I wish I could say that life in Europe was the best I ever had. That I lived it to the fullest and loved every minute. I wish I could say it was all I hoped it would be. But it's no secret that my time away was one of my greatest challenges. It's hard to disappoint the ones I love and say that I didn't make the most of my time; that I rather didn't care for it much at all. I know I sound ungrateful, but it's the honest truth: living in Belgium was not my finest hour. And if I had to do it all over again, well, I would.
Yeah, I know it's a hard one to swallow, but I know who I am today would not be without all I was yesterday. Right now I love life and feel more joy for the simple suburban lifestyle I live than I ever once did. Besides I saw Paris. And the Alps and the Mediterranean and drank Italian wine, lived in a Grand Chateau, made lasting friendships and had another wonderful redheaded viking boy. And who could deny those memories? But alas, I stray. All those things never compensated for the days I felt isolated and the times I worried about my children's health, the language and culture barrier or the challenge of winter with a husband deployed. I never got over being a stranger in a strange land.
The affect I had on my family IS my regret. My moods often, yet not always, set the tone for loving or loathing living in Belgium. But the need to bail out at high tide and come home, well, THAT I will never regret because I know the whole family has benefited from the great return. The biggest pay-off has been genuine happiness in our home and this sweet knowing that I am where I belong.