Recently, we reached two major milestones in our lives here in Berlin! One was obvious, though still a little surprising, and the other was unexpected yet welcome and not so shocking. Our time here so far has been amazingly eye-opening on many levels, and these two milestones definitely exemplify our personal journeys here so far.
The first milestone I only happened to notice because of the date on the calendar. We’ve passed the halfway point in our time here in Berlin, and will be heading home in less than 6 months now. I was completely surprised that it had passed already, so quickly, without setting off any alarms in my head at all. Annika has already started saying that she likes it here, though she still peppers her commentary with the names of people she misses at home. (Most often heard is “Maggie with the blonde hair” these days!) 6 months is the longest time I personally have ever been abroad, and what could have been a momentous occasion was really only a “meh” in my book. This could of course be related to the massively anxiety producing issues that come with our return to home and the realization of the harsh realities of life back in the USA. I continue to be a big fan of several German things, one of which is the social safety net that does not allow anyone to go bankrupt from lack of health insurance. This net also has many drawbacks that I will not enumerate here, but suffice it to say that health insurance woes upon reentry to the US are a massive concern of mine. Professionally, I know that I have less than 6 months to collect the rest of the data for my dissertation too, but somehow I’m not worried about that at all. Most novice researchers (such as myself) collect far more data than they could ever use for one single dissertation, and I know that I’ll have plenty to write about when I get home as far as my research goes. I honestly thought this would have been a bigger milestone to pass for some reason, but the indifference to the passing of time may also be a product of my research busy-ness and the pace at which our lives here are going in addition to not wanting to think about those humongous worries that will have to be dealt with at home.
The second major milestone came in the form of a joke. When we were out and about yesterday, Andy turned to me and cracked a joke with a Curious George reference in it. It was then that I realized that we had reached this awesome milestone in our relationship where we both completely understand the funny, torturous, cuddly awesomeness, tediousness, adorableness, disgusting barfiness, and balls to the wall SPASS (fun) of being the primary care-giver. I did not expect this milestone at all and the realization took me completely off guard for some reason. This is not because my husband is a troll who just plops his kids in front of the TV and plays video games while their brains turn to mush—that’s just really not his style. He’s always been a very hands-on kind of dad who makes his daughters feel special and spoils them a little more than mama does. The spoiling has lessened as he spends more time with them, yet his gentle patience persists with them long after I would have lost my Schmidt. He’s always been a really supportive and as-understanding-as-he-could-be kind of partner to me, and that really hasn’t changed at all. This realization wasn’t that he’s a good father either, rather that we have this newfound appreciation for each other and empathy for the situation that we are each navigating. Yes, the specifics are different. I most assuredly have never had to be the primary care giver in a country where I only speak a bit of the language and he’s never tried to conduct anthropological fieldwork for a PhD, but this milestone still needs to be appreciated. Dare I say Andy has acquired the emic perspective?
Upcoming milestones that we will also be celebrating in the coming months:
May: Our first visitors arrive from the USA, Annika turns 4, & 1st family road trip in Germany
June: Our 8 year wedding anniversary & more visitors!
July: Mayzie turns 2 & more visitors!
We’re very excited to welcome all kinds of visitors and to show off this spectacular city that has really started to feel more like home now. Surely many more milestones will come along the way in the next 6 months. Bring it on! We’re ready!