A giant leap or a small step – crossing the Atlantic

What does the word “home” mean? A house, a home, bricks and mortar? After eight houses in eight years, my home has to be where my family is. Sounds romantic but with a couple of toddlers I can’t say I ever have time to sit with my feet up, reading the paper with a vat of coffee by my side. That’s the ideal, isn’t it? The last time I got to sit still for five minutes I had fallen down the stairs and couldn’t get off the floor. So moving to the Midwest of America didn’t, at first, seem to be the uprooting trauma many anticipate…

Walking in Chicago's snow

Within 24 hours of moving to Chicago from the UK, I had learnt that little children have the ability to cross social barriers, whereas adults come to a stuttering halt. Adults might see these barriers as twelve foot brick walls with barbed wire on top, but to children they are imperceptible. Namely when my three year old asked me in a very loud voice in the bank: “Why does the lady have a big, big tummy?”

Granted, it was true, but perhaps the social graces required in polite society are not yet on my daughter’s register.

We landed at Chicago literally with a bump, after a fairly smooth flight. My two daughters, aged three and six months, were pretty well behaved, but it is called cabin fever for a reason. Hyperactive and bored babies and toddlers, though, seem to get back stage passes not available to the rest of the passengers. To my husband’s chagrin this meant a trip to see the captain, and even the chance to sit in his chair and press the buttons, after we had landed, I have to add quickly.

Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate sculpture (more commonly known as The Bean), Millenium Park, Chicago

For some reason the children suffer with jetlag on the outbound trip and we tend to suffer on the way back. It took them about five days to get over the six-hour time difference, and of course children wake up at different times to adults. The baby started her day, and ours, at 5am every day for four days but then rewarded us with two days of sleeping through without a feed.

So here we are at the start of a new adventure. When everything is new it’s always exciting. My eyes are open. And how you view your new adventure depends on the filter you put on your eyes. Are we stuck in a grey, flat, icy landscape, thousands of miles and several time zones from our family? Or are we about to discover a new way of life? Let’s see.

Frozen lake near Chicago

I'm a journalist, public relations and marketing specialist who has a passion for international travel, history and photography. Experiences have included backpacking in South America and the Far East, touring Europe in a camper van, working in villages in Africa, travelling with the British Army in Kenya, Oman and Northern Ireland, working in Saudi Arabia, living in Kuwait, Chicago and the United Arab Emirates.

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