We live 15.556 km. from Copenhagen, Denmark. That is 22 hours by plane. If you take the fast route. Even worse, it is approximately $5556 away for a family of five. Out of peak season.
It is too far.
I lived in Denmark for the first 31 years of my life. Denmark was my home. I have lived abroad occasionally, but Denmark was always “home”. Denmark is still home to me. There is no doubt when I get Danish ground under my feet after being away for months or years – I feel it instantly. It is unconditional. Not even the grey weather can scare me off. I love that tiny, flat country.
But I also love Australia – the giant country almost furthest away from Denmark, that I now call home.
Two homes – 15.556 km. apart. That is not a very practical arrangement, I can tell you now. And yes, it is hard to juggle. Ridiculously hard. Of course it is.
The Absence of Family and Friends Is The Worst
There are many reasons why living 15.556 km. from Denmark is hard for me/us. However, the worst part is, whitout comparison, that my children don’t have the same, close relationship with my family and friends as they would have if we had lived in Denmark. They don’t get to see them regularly and build up those close, long-lasting relationships.
Luckily our children are quite social and generally good at fitting and settling in. When we visit Denmark it only takes them minutes before they warm up to my family, but with friends it takes a little longer. We always prioritise my close family when we are there. Seeing friends is harder. Especially because my parents live in a tiny village hours from where most of my friends live. Some friends we see every time we are there, but some we have only seen once since moving to Australia. Some we haven’t seen at all. Of course it will never ever be the same relationship as if we saw people regularly.
The fact that we are always guests everywhere we go in Denmark and have nowhere to invite people to makes it a bit tricky to see people as well. We always have to go to friends’ or family’s homes – or even meet at parks or cafés – and that can be hard to fit in sometimes with small, wild children.
Feeling Lonely Amongst People
For me personally, the loneliness is the toughest. It has been 5.5 incredibly lonely years, to be honest.
Not having anyone around that understands my traditions and culture has left me feeling alienated on several occasions. Not having those “old” friends who accept me completely. And this; not having anyone who knew me before kids. For some reason, this exact point is crucial to me. I somehow feel that no-one really knows me. Here I am “just” Abby, Billie & Lulu’s mum, but inside I still feel like the person I was before I had any kids. The person who loved being out and about, the person who travelled, the person who partied all night long, the person who was social all day every day, the person with a bunch of awesome friends, the person who called skateparks and ski slopes her second home. That person is still me. Now. She didn’t die with motherhood, but no-one knows her here. That is lonely.
The Practical Side of Things
We have no family here in Brisbane to help us out with anything. I know we have chosen this ourselves but that does not change the fact that it is hard and it would be nice to be able to go to my parents for dinner once in a while, or have my niece babysit the girls or call my brother when we need help with putting up a wall somewhere.
The time difference also makes it hard to uphold relationships across the globe. Not only does it cause immense jet-lag, but is also makes it extra hard to FaceTime with family and friends while the girls are awake – and when they finally go to sleep I rarely have much energy to sit and chat all night. Unfortunately.
Then there is the most boring part of it all, the financial part. It is very expensive to fly from Australia to Denmark when you are a family of five. Kids fly free until they are 2 years old after that they pay full price. SO for the next year and a bit Lulu is still free of charge. Hopefully we get to take advantage of that rebate before it is too late.
So Much To Miss
I sure do miss a lot of things about Denmark.
I really miss having my friends and family come by our house every now and then. Or to meet up in a local park with a bunch of old friends. I miss that.
Or to be able to just go to my mum & dad’s for the weekend when Josh is busy. Or even just send the girls there. Or ask my sister to babysit for an evening while Josh and I go out with friends. I miss going out. And spending time with my brother and his family on Sunday afternoons. My girls’ little cousins. I hate that they cannot see each other more frequently.
Yep, I miss Denmark. No doubt.
I miss my family and friends and I miss the Danish society and system on my childrens behalf – especially the school system. But I also like it here in Australia. I especially like the climate and the possibilities a country with such diverse, amazing and easy accessible nature gives children. Being able to spend as much time as I have and will the next couple of years with my children is also something I would never have been able to in Denmark. I am grateful of this – even if it sometimes brings me close to a breaking point. (Full-time parenting is hard. Revarding, but ridiculously hard).
No Regrets, though
I do not regret moving to Australia. If I would do it again? I think so. It has been 5.5 hard years, for sure. It has also been 5.5 years filled with adventures that I would not have been without.
Saying goodbye to everything I knew to start a new life in Australia with a 5 week old baby in my arms 5.5 years ago was daunting, but also exciting. Little did I know what I was in for. Luckily I have had Josh beside me all along and I am ridiculously proud of us both for what we have accomplished so far building up a life for our little family here in Australia.
But is it really worth it? It seems like there is so much “missing” going on? There is – and it sure breaks my heart when my children miss their Danish family.
This past week Billie has been sad a couple of times. She says she misses mormor & morfar a lot. It breaks my heart that we cannot just go and visit them or that we have no idea of when or even if they will ever come and visit us again.
I will never forget how Abby cried all the way through security on our last flight. It was horrible. She talked about it this morning. She remembers vividly.
My parents are not getting any younger. My mum turned 75 last month and my dad is getting close to 80. I sometimes find it unfair that my children cannot get more “out of them” now while they are still fresh and energetic. Hopefully they will still be for years to come, but you never know what life brings. I just wish we could spend more time with them now, that’s all.
Living in Australia has definitely put a lot of thing in perspective for me, especially regarding my family and I often catch myself feeling…
Sad when my family is gathered in Denmark for a birthday without us.
Jealous when my parents go to Copenhagen to babysit my niece and nephew.
A little bit furious when someone complains that their family lives a whole two hour drive away so they cannot be bothered visiting often.
You see, the biggest advantage about living so far away is that when we do see my family we are together so intensely (this can also be a disadvantage at times, I should ad). When we are in Denmark we spend a lot more time with i.e. my parents than we would have if we lived in Copenhagen. Then we would probably have visited them for a weekend every now and then – now we visit for six weeks. Enough time for grandparents and grandchildren to build up a very close and special relationship. A relationship I never thought my children would have with my parents. A priceless and beautiful relationship.
Yeah, I am more than certain that THE most important thing I have learned from living in Australia is to appreciate my family. No, it is most definitely not a perfect bunch, but missing them daily has made me realize that they aren’t that bad after all.
Now, I am secretly dreaming of flying home with the girls for the Danish summer this year. Send us a winning lotto ticket and we are on our way!