Wind of Change: Kids, we're staying

Wind of Change: Kids, we're staying

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Blogger and American expat Katbat writes about revealing to her kids the reality of living in Moscow, indefinitely.

When we decided to move we explained to the kids as best we could. Leo's firm closed, he looked for jobs in Seattle, and the best job he found was in Moscow so we are moving there -- in a nutshell.

We talked about it; we went through the good things, the bad things, what we would miss, what we would look forward to. I thought we had it hashed out, at least the basics.

The other day we were walking and I hear M ask, “So how long are we going to live in Moscow?”

Before I could even answer, P pipes up, “Well, M, Leo is looking for a job in Vancouver (that would be Portland), and as soon as he gets one we are moving there.”

I did not realise this was P’s impression. I am not sure where he came up with it, but there seems to be a whole lot of wishful thinking going on.

Let me tell you a little about my P. He is a homebody family guy. If you ask him what he wants to do, he wants to hang out at home with the family.


He has already told us he plans on living with us for the rest of his life. His career plan used to be that he will work part time as a lawyer so he can spend time with his dad, and part time as a preschool teacher so he can be with me (in my former life I worked at a pre-school).

He has since “matured” into being an astronaut and will live with us when he is not in space.

M, on the other hand, plans on rescuing animals in the Amazon Rainforest. She will call once in a while, and we are invited to visit her as long as we help rescue animals. My dad will build her rescue centre.

Once a boy asked her if she would marry him, and she replied, “Only if you will work in South America with me.” He said he would think about it.

This has thrown P into a loop. How will the family live together forever and ever if M is in South America? Maybe he will help her part time, too. Anyway, P has a dream that my whole family, and Leo's mom, will all live together in a compound somewhere.

He asked me once what I would do if I had a million dollars. After I threw around things like, “Well, pay off the mortgage and maybe buy a nice area rug,” he changed to 100 million dollars.

I think I first told him I would buy everyone in the family a house close together somewhere cool, on the water or at the beach (I was thinking in terms of vacation property). This may have seeded his “living on a compound” dream.

So, he thinks we are only in Moscow while Leo looks for a job in Vancouver. I don’t want to burst any bubbles, but reality is reality. So I tell them both Leo isn’t looking for a job in Vancouver. I explain that the type of work Leo does just isn’t done there, and that we live in Moscow now.

How long? Who knows! Two years ago we didn’t even think it was possible we would be moving here. We are here now, so we live as if we are staying.

I like to have a solid plan; I can't live as if we might leave. When we bought our first house, Leo told me not to hang any pictures (put holes in the walls) because we might move someday. We lived in that house for nearly eight years, and we still own it as a rental.

Some expats come with a contract, say three years, then they either leave or renew. Some come to work as long as there is work -- with no ties to Russia other than the job.

Then there are the ones like us. We, too, are here for the job, but my husband is Russian. It is his homeland (although he says he often feels more American than Russian).

He has a unique set of skills that are specific to living here (language, cultural understanding and being Russian and not a foreigner when doing business).

We have ties here, but this is not to say we would not move to another country -- just that the chances are slimmer than those of other expats.

So I was honest with the kids: We will live here as long as it makes sense for us to live here. Not too specific, I know, but regardless we are not planning on leaving.

If P wants to hold on to his dream I won’t kill it. It is in the slight, most unlikely realm of possibility that someday Leo would get a job he could do from anywhere. In which case we would move to Vancouver (well, Portland).

Katbat / Expatica

Katbat is a mid 30s mom of three living in Moscow, Russia. When she is not hanging with her kids she likes to read, cook, and listen to music. Read Katbat's blog, "The Wind Of Change".

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