The Guilt Ridden Migration

Hi Nix, been reading your blog for long time. I live in beautiful nz for more than a year and even delivered my baby here. Although, I love life here, I cannot avoid the guilt of depriving my parents of their first grandchild. Even my extended family wants me to come back. At times, I feel incredibly homesick, especially after video calls. I'm torn between my love for my family and friends and my decision to live here. I feel very selfish. Family should be the most important thing in the whole world. Sometimes, I wonder what have I gotten myself into. We sacrifice a lot to come here. Tell me it will get better and I made the right decision.

Hi Eunice,

Last Sunday, I cooked "economic noodles" for breakfast. Upon seeing the noodles served with fried eggs and thin pieces of luncheon meat, my daughter Albany started to wail. We started the morning very well with her smiling when she woke. She clung to me like a koala and gave me a few warm pecks on my cheeks while I carried her to the dining table for breakfast. I gave her a choice that morning between her usual breakfast of "muesli-cornflakes" as she would call it - and noodles. She picked her usual choice so I set her up to let her start eating on her own while I prepared the noodles for my wife (still sleeping) and myself.

When it was all done, the crying toddler had been scratching my head. Though she was adamant about not having noodles for breakfast earlier on, she had completely lost interest in her choice once I served myself noodles. By then the wife was awaken by the racket and told Albany she had to stick with her choice. If she wanted noodles bad enough, she would be given some only if she finished her bowl of cereal. Albany was wondering why the heck daddy cooked her favourite noodles for breakfast anyway? Wasn't that only for lunch or dinner?

"Daddy is homesick, Albany," her mother suggested, seemingly reading her mind. "We eat noodles for breakfast in Singapore."

Homesick? Perhaps. I wouldn't deny it but only partially. Other than family and friends, I am sick of the rest of "home."

Unfortunately, one lesson I learnt from my migration experience would be similar to yours. Mine, too, was a guilt ridden one. I told myself I would bring everyone over when I settle down. My beloved dog. I would say I loved him no less than any of my love interests in my life. He died within 6 months after I left him, still fit like a bull when I gave him my final pat. Throughout the days we spent time together, I always thought I would be there for him and he would die in my arms when his time was up. Yes, I felt selfish, extremely selfish, as I worked with tears trapped in my goggles that entire night when I was told about his death.

My mother. I could not even bring her over unless one of my siblings migrate to Australia to fulfill the >50% sibling rule. (I have 2 siblings) So bringing her over remains an impossible dream at the moment, until circumstances change in my favour. Being a mummy's boy, I miss her badly. My wife and her gets along very well. My mum also love Albany a lot and often lavish her praises about her during our phone calls. It will be perfect if I can get her to live with us here in Perth.

But you see, my perfect world may not be my mother's. No doubt, she will be delighted to live in Perth with us given a choice and she will enjoy Perth life, from the weather to the lifestyle but it will be silly to assume such an arrangement would be perfect for her. I would be taking her social life and her decades of familiarity with her environment away from her. That would be extremely selfish too. My mum seemed to understand the same thing. Deep down I know she would want nothing more than my family by her side in Singapore, yet  not once did she persuaded me to return. Her selflessness only deepened my guilt. On the other hand, if I were to return to Singapore by her wishes, she would be burdened by the similar guilt for she knew I would never be happy living there anymore.

I have no solution for this. Until I have anything better, my current plan is, in the scenario where one of my parent pass away, I will bring the other over to stay with me for a few months each time, until he or she is bored with boring Perth. Then bringing the parent over for the next long stay when he or
she misses us badly again. And repeat. That way, they will enjoy the best of both worlds. To alleviate the pains of depriving grandparents to their grandchildren, the only way to be make regular trips back. That has been the reason why I have no real "leave" for leisure as all AL has been spent in Singapore for this purpose. A holiday trip elsewhere is not possible at the moment. Whenever possible, I also get them to come for long stays. That is the best work around I can think of for now.

Though I have no viable solution for you, I would like to leave you a few notes to ponder over.

Prior to my migration to Australia, the NS BMT confinement period was probably the longest time I had been away from my mother. During those days, I noticed a stark difference about my phonecalls to mum. Before that, I couldn't wait for the phonecalls to end. During the confinement, I wished the phonecalls wouldn't end. We talked like it was the first conversation between us and for the first time in our lives, our mother-and-son relationship became a friendship. When I began working in Singapore, I could count with my hand how many sentences I spoke to mum in a week. This calls for a reflection. For Singaporeans who moved out of their maternal house after marriage, how often do we talk to our parents? My bet is, on the average, hardly.

On the other hand, perhaps to address my endless guilt, I call my mum almost every day after work during my drives back home. I daresay the conversations we had in a month would be more than those we would have in Singapore for an entire year. 

That makes me wonder for a long time.

When it is time for my own children to leave my side (inevitably), what scenario would I prefer? Would I forgive my children from moving far away from me? Would I choose their happiness over mine? Would I prefer to have them by my side (living in the same state), seeing them once in a while, phonecalls near non-existent? I wonder what will be your answers to these?


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    1. I second that. Friends and family who value your happiness will be supportive of your decision, regardless to stay or leave.
      Those who use emotional blackmail have something else as their priority.

  2. Visa approved yesterday. Terrified & hopeful at the same time.


  3. Hi Nix,

    if you are convenient to forward the contact of Eunice so that i can ask more details from her about NZ living as i am about to relocate in a year time. Thanks

  4. I have renewed appreciation of Singapore after living overseas. I enjoy my life overseas but I do not want to lose my ties with Singapore. At the end of the day, I foresee myself spending time in Singapore and overseas. This is how I can reconcile my being away from my family.