One of the most common questions I get when someone finds out that I’ve moved to Ecuador is “Why?”
That’s understandable. It’s not a very common thing that average people do. And it takes a significant amount of effort to move a family of 4 to another country and set up all over again.
So these are my reasons for wanting to leave my home and start fresh.
So first off, living in another country was not a foreign concept to me (well, technically foreign, but you get what I mean…). When I was in my early 20’s I moved to Guyana to volunteer in a missionary effort. That’s actually where I met my wife, Deseree. She’s from New York and was volunteering in Guyana for a few years too. We got married and spent a year together in Guyana before moving to Canada, where I’m from.
Actually we probably would never have left Guyana, except that immigration laws changed and made it much more difficult to stay long-term in the country. We also found it challenging to work, seeing as she’s American and I’m Canadian, so we could only work in our respective countries unless we went through some intimidating paperwork. So we decided to move to my hometown in Canada.
Our experience in Guyana hugely affected our decision that we recently made to move to Ecuador. We both loved it in Guyana. Life was fulfilling, we were spending a lot of time volunteering and helping others, and the simple lifestyle of a third-world country really appealed to us. It definitely wasn’t easy, though. Guyana is actually a pretty challenging place. It’s hot. The bugs are insane. Actually for a while we lived next to a village called “Mosquito Hall”. Appropriate name. So it wasn’t that we had a laid-back easygoing lifestyle… but then again that’s not the sort of people we are so I don’t think that would have appealed to us.
At any rate, ever since we went back to Canada we were talking about getting back out somewhere; if not Guyana, somewhere else. About 2 years after returning to Canada (2013), we had our first daughter, Eliana, and a year and a half later (2015), our second, Talia.
So this is where we really got into a daily grind of every-day life. I was working full-time at this point at a pretty demanding job, Dez was a stay-at-home mom. We really wanted that for our kids. Living in Guyana emphasized the advantages of an “old-fashioned” upbringing to us. We loved how often the moms were able to spend time actually raising their own kids and we wanted that for our family.
I was getting more and more stressed though as time went on. My job was getting increasingly stressful. I had some health issues going on that were sapping my energy and I was coming home exhausted. I was also dealing with some depression. I didn’t have the energy to play with my kids. I mean I did play with them… but I was lazy about it. Even having a normal conversation with my wife after work seemed like a mental exercise for a tired mind. I’d have difficulty paying attention, which was a source of frustration for both of us.
It’s hard to allocate exactly how much of the problem came from which source. Working a hard job is tiring for anyone. I had some health issues which compounded that. Add into the mix getting used to parenthood and increasing bills and I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed. I knew I was feeling this way, but I didn’t see another option other than this “daily grind”. From my perspective, this was the role of the Husband/Father so I accepted it as-is.
As I said, ever since we moved back to Canada my wife and I talked about moving to another country again. But because of the fact that I was obviously struggling my wife starting doing research.
Now my wife is not the average person when it comes to research. She is intense. Before too long she had worked out a list of suitable countries, requirements for immigration, possible weekly schedules, costs of living, ways to budget for the move, how we can support ourselves once there, list after list after list…
At first this just stressed me out even more. It seemed like more was being added to my daily grind and I was already feeling overwhelmed. Then something happened that made me change my attitude.
So at this point I was in a rut of coming home from work, collapsing on the couch, having supper with the family, then doing the bedtime routine with my girls… read a few books, have a bath, brush their teeth, put on their pajamas, sings them some songs, say a bedtime prayer and put them to bed. I thought I was fulfilling my responsibility as Daddy, this was quality time that I was spending with my girls, lots of snuggles, chatting around bedtime, etc. The girls were always asking for their mom but I thought that because they’re still little, they need her and that’s normal.
There was this one long weekend we had that totally changed my perspective.
So I remember at the start of the weekend thinking to myself that I really wanted to spend time playing with my girls. I always remembered going on camping trips and things like that with my dad as total highlights, and I wanted that with my girls. So I resolved to myself that this weekend I wouldn’t pass them off to Mommy if I was tired, that I would spend as much time as possible with them.
We had an absolute blast. I took the kids to the park, we played dress-up and make-believe, we wrestled, played soccer, ran, jumped, explored the moon (not for real) and all sorts of stuff that is of ultimate importance to a 1 and 2 year old.
Towards the end of that weekend I felt recharged instead of exhausted. On Tuesday I went back to work, and when I got back home the girls were bouncing off the walls in excitement to see me. Normally they’re happy to see me, they’d give me a hug and a kiss and stuff, but this time they were quite actually ecstatic. Dez told me that they were asking for me the whole day long.
That was a new thing. Before they always were asking for Mommy. They’d enjoy snuggling me and playing with me but ultimately it was Mommy that made things better, if they were feeling fussy they wanted Mommy, throughout the day they needed to keep tabs on Mommy. Daddy was the guy that worked, fixed things, and put them to bed. I remember the feelings as I processed that change. I wanted that to happen more. I liked it. This is when I really realized that I needed to make some changes.
I started to talk to Dez more and more about how I felt about this. We talked about the simple lifestyle we had in Guyana. Also we discussed what specifically is overwhelming me. Then we looked at those plans that she had drawn up of what life would be like in another country.
It took me a long time to change my mindset. I was a workhorse with blinders on, not realizing that I was taking the hard path that didn’t lead to where I wanted to go.
Something that was really nice about serving in Guyana was that we made a lot of international friends. We started getting in touch with them again, asking them which country they were in now and what it was like. We prayed a lot about it, we did a lot more research together, and then we made up our mind that we were going to do it.
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