I don’t want to. I don’t want to. I don’t want to. If stamping my feet and screaming like a toddler would change anything that’s exactly what I’d be doing. If tears would change anything, I’d cry, but nothing will. So instead I let it all bubble up and pretend I’m ok with it. Talk about how we’ll be able to enjoy the produce of the pazaars again instead of supermarket fruits. Chatter optimistically about how we can rearrange rooms in the house and the places we can enjoy again, new. But inside I’m screaming, “I don’t want to go back” and I feel my chest start to compress.
I’m angry. With the system that sucks. And with us for having dreamt we could beat it.
I’m frustrated at unfairness of a system that allows foreigners to bring their families to my country yet tells me to leave with mine.
I’m infuriated at the letter that stated “shoes” instead of “should” yet turned of all our plans on their heads.
But mostly I’m sad. Just really, really sad.
The past seven months I’ve watched my children blossom in this environment. Last night M chose to have his first sleepover at his Grandma’s – a huge leap for our little man who in just December wouldn’t go anywhere without Mummy or Baba. At the anniversary party M’s wonderful preschool had yesterday, T was gabbering excitedly about how he’s looking forward to joining in September. They’ve made plans for what their summer would contain, and believe this way of life will continue. And it’s all being snatched away from them.
We spent the day alhamdulillah as a family once again, G having caught the first flight back once his passport was returned. Nothing fancy, a few hours in the zoo, cooing over baby giraffes and accumulating grass stains pretending to be lions, followed by a simple lunch and adventure playground fun. A lazy Sunday. A normal day. But so extraordinarily extraordinary in the scheme of our lives over there.
There’s something to be said for the simple life Iznik gives us, and much beauty to be treasured in our days. But the summer is stifling and the winters are cold; the weather’s a simple metaphor for the town. I’m trying to tell myself that it will be good for them, that now having flooded their brains with English, a re-immersion in Turkish will solidify their bilingualism, a benefit to returning to their other world… yet I know it doesn’t really work like that, that we’re not immersed in the life or the culture of the country. We’re outsiders in their homeland, and I don’t know how we go about changing that. Going back, whether to Iznik (simple and easy) or Istanbul (dramatic and chaotic) scares me more than moving to an entirely new country.
But it is what it is. For whatever incomprehensible reasons, the British government think that marriages to foreigners erase your rights to a family life in the country you and your children are citizens of and we’re just lucky Turkey welcomes me unquestioningly. We get to be a unit, we get to be a family and I have to be grateful to the country for that. And I have to grateful for the time we’ve had here, however short and however fractured, because, aside from the bounties our kids have gleamed from being here, being home has helped me regain my strength.
I’m reassured that the way I’m raising our kids is not outlandish and that kids not wearing shoes is not a parenting fail. I’m reassured that our children are on track ‘academically’ – even if my defining scale doesn’t meet EYFS. I’m confident our children are adaptable and happy and understand so very clearly what family is. And I’ve refound faith that being a square peg in a round hole is not the worst you can be and being true to yourself will suffice. Thanks to coming home, I’m whole again and will figure out a way to stay that way this time and we *will* make Turkey work for our family, for now. But still I’m angry and I’m bitter, and gosh how I hate that latter feeling most of all.
“I don’t want to do this – I don’t!!”