Calling On Your Expat Village: It Happens

by farrah on February 4, 2015 · 13 comments

Yesterday was awful. One of my guys woke up feeling pretty bad and I was worried. We’ve had that ‘American Flu‘ but C always seems to linger around illness a little bit longer than the rest of us. His cough was nasty and he was hot. Like really hot. Mentally I took stock of the situation: husband out of the country, sick child… this isn’t going to be good.

Fortunately, I have made friends in Oisterwijk with the parents I see every single day. After two years, I consider them friends, and if I needed help I knew I could reach out to someone. Without family nearby- your expat village becomes your family. And if you’re lucky enough to live in a place like I do— the residents feel the same.

I have a friend that I usually call in crisis times like these and she helps me with the boys. Unfortunately her own son was ill, and wasn’t going to be going to school. That was ok. I had backup. In fact, I had several parents I could ask. I did reach out to another mom I’ve known for a while- and she gladly offered assistance.

With B and L off my mind until 3pm, I could focus on C. We had a doctor appointment at 11am, and I was sure that a quick trip would fix us up in no time. Well, that wasn’t the case at all. The doc didn’t like the sound in his lungs and told us to go to the hospital to see a kinderarts (child doctor)Now, let me tell you- if your Dutch doctor is telling you to go to the hospital to see a pediatrician, you have the right to freak out a little bit. You aren’t sent to the pediatrician for just anything. In all of our time here, we’ve never been to the hospital for the boys nor seen a pediatrician. She advised me that we might need to stay overnight- and after that I went out to my car and cried.

I called my husband who happened to be in Portugal for work, sobbing. He knew that C was sick from the texts I had sent him in the morning, but I’m sure this took him aback. He wasn’t due to come home for two more days. What about the boys? Who would stay with them if I was in the hospital? I couldn’t leave C- he would have absolutely flipped out.

I had to find the hospital, carry a very heavy 4 year old around, and ask everyone for help and directions. I abandoned my car at the front of the hospital knowing full well I might end up with a ticket or a towed car. But when your kid is very sick, you just do what you gotta do. We found the emergency area, and I had to ask someone sitting there to stay with C while I moved my car. Gladly she obliged.

We were seen by a very kind doctor. C was hot, his ears red and he was in no mood to be there. I wanted to hear that the fluid in his lungs wasn’t so bad antibiotics could help and we could go home. Fortunately, the parents I was messaging with were offering assistance. I had after school care. My friend Ace said they could sleep over with her. Everything would work out- I just had to ask.

Sometimes it’s hard to ask. I was raised where you didn’t want to inconvenience others. You didn’t ask for help. You struggled through and just had to deal. Well, to say it bluntly: As an expat you can’t deal by yourself sometimes. You have to ask. You have to reach out- you have to accept help. There’s nothing wrong with needing your village.

I don’t know why I have a hard time asking for help- mostly it’s the fear of putting someone out, which is silly considering if someone asked me for help I gladly do whatever I can. So last night after I had received offers for the greater part of the day- I asked my friend to please bring me a thermometer. She lives just across the way, but it was cold and bed time- and she has a little one of her own who is also sick. But with all of my fancy thermometers- ALL of them had dead batteries. I couldn’t go through the night without having one just in case. I thought- ‘Would I feel put out if someone asked me for something so simple?’ No.

Without hesitation she jumped to it and brought me what she had. She even offered to go to the store and buy me a new one. I went to bed feeling at ease, knowing if he spiked again I would know it- and we all woke up today feeling much better without a fever spike at all.

The bottom line is this: We all need a village- be it metaphorically or literally to help us get through. Parenting takes a village, as does being an expat. Having a core group of people you can count on is priceless, and when you live thousands of miles away in a foreign speaking land- you must have that network. When you move overseas- you have to reach out to people- they’re going to become your lifeline.

I had friends messaging, fellow parents offering to help, and my friend Cindy the relocation expert even asking what she could do. As scary as the whole day was, I knew I wasn’t alone.

This morning we woke without incident from  the night before- and I’m happy to say C is on the mend. Scary, yes- but also I feel like no matter what happens here- so far away, I have my village to turn to for help.


Expat Life with a Double Buggy

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marloes February 4, 2015 at 8:48 am

Ah that’s not an adventure you wish to add to your expat-adventure list… Thankfully he is feeling better and I’m so happy for you that you have found such an amazing back-up system!


2 farrah February 6, 2015 at 9:08 am

No, but hey, now I know where the ‘calamity’ entrance is located and where to park 🙂


3 Ellen February 4, 2015 at 9:59 am

I hope everything is ok now! How is C? Sterkte! Ellen


4 farrah February 6, 2015 at 9:08 am

It is! Much better. I’ve kept him home all week just to be sure, and let the antibiotics do their thing. Thanks!


5 Ann February 4, 2015 at 12:16 pm

I think it’s the beauty of being an expat. Those connections are so strong. For strangers in the US, even if they knew you were new to the area, are they likely to offer assistance or assume that you must know someone?

I was very relived the first time we had to depend on a local friend who offered to watch W when I went into labor for S. What a relief to know that at any time of night, she’d be ready, even though she had a baby herself. She even made plans to come over if W was sleeping.

I’m glad you have your village and that things are looking up health-wise now.


6 farrah February 6, 2015 at 9:12 am

I’ve really felt like people here make an extra effort to offer help to me. You know- the Dutch are very much reliant on their family for assistance, and they understand that it must be rather difficult to be in our position. The GOOD thing for us though too- is that we’re pretty well versed in not having any family support, being in SC we were pretty much on our own.

BUT- even there, it was so big and spread out that I don’t feel I had the ‘village’ feeling I have here. I have/had two friends there that we relied on many times in the past- but they’re busy too! They work, juggle kids, etc and weren’t exactly living within walking distance. Not to mention their kids go to different schools. So yeah- it was harder.


7 Ace CB February 4, 2015 at 6:53 pm

We all need the village sometimes. We’re all in the same boat and we’ll always have each other’s back. =)


8 farrah February 6, 2015 at 9:12 am



9 Leighann February 4, 2015 at 7:09 pm

so glad he’s on the mend and that you had people you could count on!


10 farrah February 6, 2015 at 9:12 am

Thank you – and me too 🙂


11 mom February 5, 2015 at 12:47 am

Gosh, I am sorry this happened to you and the boys while Andy away. Brings back the scariest moments for me when you at delivery with the twins and Gram breaking her wrist at your house. Glad all turned out okay for you and “your village”. As it turned out for me with help from the village on Brittle Creek.
XX. Mom


12 farrah February 6, 2015 at 9:16 am

That was pretty much a disaster.


13 Kim March 16, 2015 at 8:23 pm

It is so important to have people you can rely on when you are living in another country. It is great that you have such a good community of people to lean on and all turned out well #expatlifelinky


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