How the Other Half Lives

My husband “got the offer” while I was still in college. Our first few years in the Foreign Service were dominated by student loan payments, pregnancy, and babies. The babies were much more fun than the first two things on that list, but it all added up to a triple whammy in terms of not getting to do the Good Stuff in the Foreign Service.

Oh sure, we did stuff. But that trip to Macchu Picchu while in La Paz? Couldn’t afford it. Safaris in Africa? Expensive, and they don’t welcome babies or toddlers. You get the picture. Or maybe you don’t. But anyway, it was what it was.

Our last tour before Vienna was Prague. We did do a lot there, but the kids being 4 and 8 upon arrival, and having just done three years on one income in DC, we were still a bit restricted. Me, especially. While the corporate wives enjoyed the liberty provided by full-day paid preschool, we scraped to pay for half-day. Anything I did, I had to be back to pick up my son by noon. Toward the end of the tour things loosened up a bit, but we were still definitely in kid mode for vacations. Which can be really fun, but still, the logistics easily can make a vacation seem like work. Especially for moms. Not to be sexist or anything, but multi-tasking ability can be a blessing and a curse. Ask any mom.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a mom. And I was good at it. (Better at it than any nanny, in case you are wondering.) But my major reason for wanting to do one more overseas tour was that I wanted to be overseas with money and without little kids just once.

And you know, it’s really nice!

We arrived in July, and it was the usual scenario. Kids don’t have anyone to hang out with, we don’t have any of our stuff, we don’t have a car, there’s no TV, and it’s hot. If you are an FS mom, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You have never, in your life really counted the days until school starts until you have done the arrival-at-post-with-kids thing. Never.

But this time? No problem! The daughter arrived with two college buddies to keep her company. The teenager was more or less content with his laptop, an electric guitar,  and a pair of USB speakers.

If one of them didn’t want to go to a museum, the grocery store, or whatever, fine. See ya’ later.

If the kids wanted to go somewhere, they knew where the bus stop was.

If we just wanted to get out of the house, we went out to eat. No kid menu necessary. No crayons, no Game Boy. And we could afford it.

If the milk and juice were getting a little heavy to haul home from the grocery store, I sent the teenager. In fact, I still do. And he takes the recycling out, as well.

No one got sick. Not once! (Except for the cat, and he didn’t whine much.)

School has now started, and my morning routine consists of making sure the teenager wakes up, then saying goodbye as he heads to the U-Bahn. He can come home whenever he wants to–he doesn’t need a ride. I can go out and do whatever I like and come home whenever I like. He has a key.

So, this is what it’s like to be in the FS without little kids.

It’s really pretty fun. I’m so glad we went for it!


  1. Thanks for posting this. It gives me hope. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to be home with my kids, and the Foreign Service makes that possible, but we definitely can’t afford to do all the things that a two income or childless family gets to do. I know that one day that will all change, and I’ll happily enjoy spa days and exotic vacations (hopefully). Right now, though, I’m going to enjoy being at home and witnessing all the excitement around me.


  2. Really enjoying your blog. First time I’ve checked it out, but as my old LA friends used to say, your “get-it” factor is high. Meaning we are on the same page about a lot of things. Thanks for helping me laugh today. Hope you’ll check my blog out too.


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