I loved being Mom. It’s like my own life stopped the day the lab result was positive that fateful day 30+ years ago. I was never happier for that first few years. Fast forward 20 years and my enthusiasm for the job had all but shriveled up; motherhood became a thankless, burdensome job. But I loved my children. There wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do for them if they’d have only asked. I don’t know when they stopped liking me, but the communication changed and I didn’t like it. It seemed everything I said was antagonistic and spurred a fight. Reminders to empty the garbage met with so much more resistance and energy than just emptying it myself, and my daughter couldn’t bother to cook for the family. Dishes? If they only used one dish why should they do dishes for everyone? Seriously, since Mom was doing them anyway, doing an extra dish wasn’t really a bother, was it?
Then getting criticized for everything that did or did not happen to them is interesting, especially in that family trauma was far less than average. I began to see them as ungrateful people whom I would not be drawn to if they lived next door; emotions of any sort wane.
The day my dear husband died was the day I picked my life back up and began to live, but I clung to the love of these three souls hoping as they matured they would each appreciate and love me like I had loved them. Obviously that didn’t happen and it’s really fine that this is the way it was for me. Had it not been for the independent nature that I had instilled in them I know I would still be living my life for them, and waiting for grandchildren, and taking menial work so I could manage the hours in case someone needed me. I’ve seen it happen to plenty of my girlfriends.
I really thought I should go abroad and have a few adventures while my health still allowed. Maybe ‘absence would make the heart grow fonder,’ I thought. I traveled quite a bit during my last year in the US, so when a friend needed me to drive him to the airport in the town where one of my sons lived I happily agreed. As I dropped my friend off at the airport I called my son to schedule lunch. It would be the last time I would see him before going away to the other side of the planet. “Oh, Mom, I can’t get away. I have a meeting with management. I just can’t get away.” I cried most of the drive back for the 200 miles or so. There hadn’t been more than a polite mention of my staying over.
Prior to my leaving I made time to see my daughter for a couple days and had hoped she would take me to the airport. I actually drove over 1,000 miles to stay with her for a couple days and then leave from that airport. My last evening with her was disastrous. At one point she asked me to leave; it was about 11 pm. and then allowed me to stay realizing her own, cruel nature didn’t have a rationalized excuse. That was one of the few times she had ever seen me cry. I didn’t cry because she hurt my feelings. I cried because I saw her for the kind of person she had become and felt remorse for having birthed her. She isn’t really a horrible person, just a typical ‘millennial.’ Wondering about my third offspring? So do I.
The gift my children had given me was the best gift they ever could have- freedom. I am grateful to each of them for this and I love them so much more. They are good people and I can be proud of them for being good, hardworking, honest people. That is enough for me and I’ve moved on.
Fast forward a year and I found myself in India, floundering to reinvent myself in the unique cultures of Asia. It’s difficult on a small pension, but I’ve been managing and having a much more interesting life than if I’d stayed in the US. Thank God for visa issues that allowed me to find my way to Nepal. I’ve found Nepal to have a kinder, gentler society than India. And the people? Once outside Kathmandu’s Thamel district they are quite friendly and nonviolent.
Shortly after arriving I met another retired American expat, author of Nepal: A Tourist’s Manual. The book was very helpful, but just a book. She's created something better than a book. Amanda has put together a unique opportunity. She’s designed a way for retired people with small pensions to live well in her group home. But more than just providing food and a place to stay, she is setting it up so her guests can take advantage of all the things the money conversion gives us an advantage with, things like dental work, alternative medical treatments and creating memories with the lovely, friendly people here. Although it didn’t take much convincing for me, especially since I was already living here, it did take a bit of explaining.
First of all, Amanda’s price for the program is only $500-600 per month, but what will it include? After looking at all that will be provided I’ve decided it is the best way for a mature woman to spend time abroad, at least until she gets acclimated to her new life. The learning curve can be quite expensive, so being in an expat ‘bubble’ is great. I figure if the other women are not to my liking, or I get tired of group only activities I can easily pick up my suitcase and move on. I could even look for a roommate situation in Kathmandu or Pokhara. We old ladies can be a handful, even for each other and the worst thing that I could imagine happening would be to settle in and then one of the other women would start hating on me and it would be like junior high school all over again. I like Amanda’s ‘back door-easy out’ policy. That means a lot to me. She says you can move out anytime the rent is paid up, no problem.
I stayed there for a couple weeks prior to moving onto SE Asia. It was quite nice and I plan to go back. I will be blogging about it as time goes on. So far, I highly recommend the Star View Guest House & Retreat Center in Changunarayan, Bhaktapur, Nepal. I’m looking forward to meeting other women as they arrive beginning in August.
Check out Amanda's blog post about the project.Retire in Nepal