I’m 43, have been a trailing wife for the last 20 years, never had the opportunity/time/right family situation/legal right to start my own career path and now that the setting is finally perfect is it not too late for me???
A few months ago it suddenly dawned on me. Now it’s my turn. For years, I lived the wonderful colourful life of a trailing spouse. More than twenty years ago we landed in the US. Young couple with 4 suitcases and only one E1 visa. Sorry, no work permit for the spouse, we were told. And that was fine. Resorting to a part time, under the radar solution, I became an ABA therapist. Moving between my clients’ homes I had a great addition to my graduate studies.
Then it was babies’ time. And between the many moves, visa constraints, and hubby’s lucrative income, I whole heartedly surrendered myself to the wonderful task of being a full-time mom to two brilliant little toddlers.
Singapore was next with its restrictions on spousal employment. After jumping again and again through the hoops of LOCs and working permits I ended up starting my own business of lectures and consultation. It was wonderful. But at some point, it wasn’t enough.
And then came Hong Kong. Everything seemed to be just right – a welcoming immigration policy, full time spousal employment permit, two independent teenagers who now needed a role model of a working productive mom, and a husband who was anxious to finally anchor to my back those wings he promised on the night of our wedding.
But was I ready?
Again it was the hubby who fiercely fought the demons of my self-doubt. With the help of LinkedIn we gathered all the pieces of the vast experience I suddenly realized I accumulated along the years. My work in the embassy in Singapore, serving as the speaker of a youth village in Israel, working at the university in Australia, all accompanied by the years of studies – BA, MA, PhD, NLP. All receiving a new meaning under the umbrella of my recent endeavor in Singapore, creating the self-confident relocation specialist I was now realizing I am.
And with that confidence I was ready to go get myself a career. And I so did.
It is from this point in my life, in which I feel is the start of a new and exciting journey, that I now wish I could send a message to the younger trailing spouse I was for all those years. A message that will calm down those worrying thoughts that have always crawled at the back of my mind – Am I missing the train? Am I letting go of my chances? Would it be too late for me?
And if only I could send myself one message it would be – Relax.
Enjoy the beautiful adventures you’re going through. Gather your tools. Part of them are your kids who will use all the support you now give them to become self-assured and capable in years to come. Collect your knowledge, use your time to study. Don’t worry if you’re not sure it’s exactly the right subject. One thing will lead to the next, and in the end, all dots will connect. Take these part time jobs, volunteer. Keep filling your backpack. And when the time would be right, the right trail will be there for you to easily conquer it.
By Dr Taly Goren, a long time traveler between nations and continents,
relocation specialist, parents groups facilitator, mother of two adolescent TCKs,
and the wife of a Hi-Tech Expat frequent flyer.