The 3 Year Mark Recap: To Stay or Not To Stay?

My life in a photo

My life in a photo

Zoie turns 3 in just over a month’s time.

And this means we would have been in Sydney, Australia for almost 3 years (come June). It seems almost surreal, really, to think that Nic’s PhD journey is almost all done!

And the one thing I’ve not really bothered thinking too much of, has now come back to me in full force. To stay or not to stay, that is the question.

It’s a tough choice. All our family, our friends, our work, our church is back in Singapore. There in Singapore lies our ties, and the fact we can get the $1 cup of teh-tarik at the food centre and that $3 bowl of yummy bak chor mee. I miss church back home, miss the style of worship, I miss our weekly cell group meetings, I miss hanging out with the “gang” which has since about doubled in size (no) thanks to the number of kids between us!

And yet, there’s Australia. No doubt it has won our hearts… but perhaps the bigger pull factor is that it has won the hearts of our kids. Jayvon, being 8, has the most vivid memory of life back in Singapore. He misses the arcade back there, he misses the extended family, and he has told us on more than one occasion that he would LOVE to go back…. If he didn’t have to go to Primary School. Hahaha! (Like I said, he has memory – and those 2 months in Primary 1 has given him the shudders of the weekly spelling quizzes). Life here is so much simpler. Hardly any homework. He is in Year 3, which is his NAPLAN year, and in a recent meeting that his form teacher had with the parents, one asked how they could help the kid to get ready for NAPLAN… and the teacher’s reply was, “Don’t worry about it.” And then she moved on to the next question.

Yup, I can see all my Singaporean friends’ jaws dropping collectively right now. I feel you. I was flabbergasted too! Haha!

Jayvon, having struggled through his awkward Kindy start, and an equally challenging Year 1 & 2, has finally found his footing, learning how to balance work and play, how to work hard (he proudly tells me his accomplishments in the classroom) and play hard (for the FIRST time since we’ve come, he received 2 play date invites this year from 2 different classmates, and he was ecstatic!)

Xavier has started Kindy this year, and with his older brother in the same school, he has it MUCH easier. He has taken to hanging with Jayvon about every break that they have (much to Jayvon’s irritation cos Xavier “doesn’t let him have fun with his own friends”) but it’s been almost 2 months since the start, and Xavier’s breakthrough was in playing ball with his own classmate just last week – instead of running after Jayvon.

Zoie is enjoying herself in her childcare, having older brothers mean she enjoys playing with the older kids – and they enjoy having her too. She has her heart set on dance lessons next term, so we shall see. Haha!

They speak with an Aussie-twang (Xavier & Zoie being the most pronounced of the lot), they have the palate of Aussies (Jayvon has recently taken to asking for carrot and cucumber sticks for his recess breaks. Like… WHAT?), they can spend all day at the beach, and all in all they’ve assimilated to the Aussie way of life much, much better than Nic and me. Well, better than me anyhow. Haha!

I’ve had so many people ask me “Are you staying on in Australia?” “Are you going back to Singapore?” and if I were very honest, my answer to you then really depends on where I am in that mental battle! Hahaha! Some days I feel like we should just all go back to Singapore. It’s so much easier with friends and family around. I miss not having a regular monthly salary. I am sick of struggling with the budget all the time. I want to buy nice things for my kids. Then other days, I feel like we should just stay on in Australia. There’s so much more to offer the kids here. They have so much fun here. It’d be almost too cruel to subject them to the Primary school education back in Singapore, and to study Chinese – ohemgee, it might kill us all! Then another day, I’d be pro-Singapore once again. I would meet random strangers who gush about how they love Singapore, and I would agree. The level of security, how I can bring the kids out on my own and walk back with them at 9 p.m. without having to constantly look over my shoulder. How they would miss out on having fun with their aunties and grandparents. How they would miss out on church back home. And my job! How could I not go back to work at CHC? But then Australia tugs at my heart-strings again… and it continues.

In other words, I am still struggling. Still praying about the best decision for not just me and Nic, but for our three kids. And I know of people who’re very “for” one decision or the other, but the truth is, there is so much to weigh, that I feel it deserves a lot more thought and prayer.

I don’t envy other parents who might be in this same situation, thinking of whether or not to uproot their kids for a chance at a better life. I just think our decision was made harder – because we’ve already uprooted them once, three years ago, and if this next move is going to be easy for them.

Till then, there’s at least a year more to Nic finally graduating. A year more for me to enjoy my status as a stay at home mom, and to spend time with the trio.

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