I’m an independent woman. Just ask my husband.
In 2010, when we moved to Istanbul, it was first time in 18 years I didn’t have a job. I have been working at least part-time since I was 15. In college, I juggled three jobs for awhile. From 2005-2010, I worked 60+ hours a week in the restaurant business.
Needless to say when I found myself “unemployed” in my new expat life, I struggled. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I hadn’t had much free time for several years. What does one do, I thought.
Well, I signed up for every expat group and organization possible in Istanbul. I grabbed my camera and wandered around the streets. I started this blog. I started teaching baking classes. Later, I took Turkish lessons. I became the busiest, unemployed woman I knew.
Last year, I was baking every week for a coffee shop in Sultanahmet. I was a co-coordinator of PAWI. I was even more active than before until this spring when my husband dropped a bombshell on me. We would be moving earlier than we had anticipated. I was devastated, but we made the decision TOGETHER that we’d rather stay abroad than move back to the U.S. right now.
For a couple weeks, I was in denial about moving. Then, I realized I better start researching about my new country – Poland.
As I researched other expat blogs and searches regarding moving abroad to another expat posting, I stumbled upon the term “The Trailing Spouse.” There are even Twitter hashtags and workshops geared towards the trailing spouse.
I pictured myself as a lost puppy dog, tugging onto the shirt tails of my husband’s dress shirt in my mouth and lagging behind him. I was not amused. WTH? This is B.S.!
|Not exactly the image I had in mind, but close.|
I asked my husband if this is what he thought of me as I pantomimed my dog trailing image to him.
He knew the correct answer.
Shortly after we moved to Warsaw, my husband and I met some work acquaintances for a drink. One of these men asked how I liked being the “trailing spouse” so far. I tried my best to smile and said it was great, and that we had just found an apartment. Change of subject.
Inside, I was cringing. I wish I had a punching bag to take out my anger. Actually, I wanted to punch this guy.
My husband could tell that I was putting on a good front, but inside I was furious.
Unfortunately, I’m sure this incident won’t be the last time that I hear this offensive term. Maybe some expat wives are okay with it, but I’m certainly not. (One of the blogs I follow recently wrote about this topic too: I am an Expat by 4 kids, 20 suitcases & a beagle.)
I’m not a trailing spouse.
Yes, I’m a wife, but my identity is as a pastry chef.
I’m still figuring out my new life here in Warsaw. I joined the International Women’s Group of Warsaw and already have been recruited as the newsletter editor. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I start teaching my baking classes, which is something I really enjoy. I love teaching people how to take such simple ingredients and turn them into something delicious.
We’d also like to start a family.
Until then, the only trailing you’ll be seeing is when we go hiking on the trails in the nearby Polish forests.