Under the Weather

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Mark’s drawing on the first day of school

The night we came back, my pre-sleep thoughts were positive. I even congratulated myself on a smooth transition from France to Canada. “It all went pretty well, after all,” I mused. There had been no tears (not in public anyway, and my mascara is waterproof), no last-minute urge to not board the plane, no deep regrets since everybody was going back to school or to work.

I drifted off to sleep counting the number of items on my to-do list.

The next morning, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and squirrels were squirrelling around. Birds may have been singing too, but I wouldn’t have heard them because Mark was watching TV.

I took a deep breath and organized my thoughts. Right. Empty backpacks. Do laundry. Fill up the fridge. Open the mail. Heigh-ho, heigh-ho… It’s home from work we go…

That’s when I started losing hours.

I lost hours putting clothes in the washer, the dryer, and sorting them, I lost hours buying basic groceries and I lost hours doing… stuff. Said stuff didn’t include sitting down and relaxing, that much I remember. Fuck. Apparently, the trip to France didn’t solve my time-management issues. Has the supermarket always been that far? Has yogurt always been that expensive? Why did everyone felt the need to ask how my day was going when it was obvious no one gave a fuck?

Okay, maybe I hadn’t readapted to Canada quite yet and I was possibly a bit stressed out.

By the evening, I was feeling completely overwhelmed. There was still so much to do… and it was apparently time to sleep.

The following day, it was pouring rain and I’m pretty sure the damn squirrels in front of the house were mocking me—stupid creatures. I had a sore throat and I felt feverish. Feng was dealing with a toothache and we were both realizing Mark wouldn’t start school before another full week (which is, in parenting time, two eternities of chaos and darkness).

It went downhill from here. I developed a full-blown cold (probably a virus I picked up on the plane) and I could barely function. Feng was coughing and dreading the dentist’s verdict on the tooth. More rain was forecast for the Labour Day long weekend.

That’s when the fridge we had just filled with groceries decided to give up on life and on us—in a loud, last middle-of-the-night attempt to alert us on a hidden pathology we didn’t suspect, it buzzed and vibrated to death. We woke up to a watery freezer and a warm fridge.

We lost ice cream, fish sticks and chicken nuggets in the battle. One pizza was saved and cooked for dinner. RIP, uneaten food.

“No, Mark, no hurricane here!” I stated. “The house won’t be destroyed, promise. We are safe!” I added as cheerfully as I could, completely under the weather.

On Thursday, Feng dropped us off in front of the school. The day had come, Mark would officially be a senior kindergarten instead of a junior kindergarten which may not be a resume-worthy achievement but was nothing short of a miracle for an almost five-year-old who has been counting down the days to his birthday since March.

That is, if Mark was actually going to step inside the schoolyard. He was dragging his feet, his gaze down. You can’t fool me, buddy, I know this walk—I invented it when my dad used to take me to school because I was secretly hoping he would completely forget I was there and walk past the building (it wasn’t much of a stretch to hope, my dad occasionally did forget he was taking me to school).

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Er… can I go to school like, tomorrow? Not today?”

“Oh, Mark…” I looked around. The schoolyard was mobbed with parents and kids with too-big-for-them backpacks. “Sorry, you do have to go today.”

Mark nodded gravely, holding back tears, so I did the mature thing and I started to cry real tears. I couldn’t help it. I can deal with Mark crying (hell, half of the time, if he cries, it’s because I infringed on his “rights”) but watching a five-year-old being stoical possibly the saddest thing in the world.

Eventually, we dried our tears and he agreed to go.

I spent another day running around and accomplishing apparently nothing while Feng was at the dentist, then we picked him up at three.

“How did it go?” I asked.

“It… went by fast,” he acknowledged.

“He sounds like me when I’m doing something I hate,” I told Feng later. “I’m not sure ‘it went by fast’ is the expected comment for a first school day.”

Feng shrugged, still worried about the fridge issue, added to the tooth issue the dentist had just discovered.

“And that painting he did at school… I mean, it’s dark, isn’t it? Looks like a Picasso Período Azul, when he was depressed.”

Honestly, I feel a bit down myself as well. I can’t help wondering what the hell I’m doing here.

I’d better find my purpose again, and fast.


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. I’m sorry you’re struggling with everything just now…. It sounded like you were a little unsure about leaving France and I just read your last post about Canada being hard…
    If it’s any consolation I’m sure Mark will soon get his bearing and start enjoying school again.
    And it’s always a special kind of exhaustion when you come back from traveling (esp. back to “home country”), are jet lagged, caught something on the plane etc. I’ve been there and felt that way too, especially coming back after my brother’s accident. It really made me rethink things.
    Hopefully you’ll be able to get some rest, the sun might come back? And you’ll find a purpose again?
    If you ever want to chat, you know how to reach me 🙂
    PS: sorry if I read too much into this! It’s just that I feel like I can relate

    • I thought of you and the emails you wrote after your last trip, actually. Of course, circumstances are completely different and you were dealing with a tough situation while I was just… on holidays. But yeah, I feel this post-traveling exhaustion, this weird state between tired and restless, one foot here and the other one there.

      En tout cas, merci de tes mots 🙂

  2. Ugh, you have my sympathy – hope you are feeling better and (fingers crossed) the rest of your family didn’t get it. I always have such a hard time transitioning back to September, and it must be extra tough having just come back from a trip.I’m still adjusting!

    • It’s weird, isn’t it? Feels like despite the fact we are no longer students, September is still the beginning of the year… with all the associated challenges.

  3. Your fridge broke!?

    There are two levels of kindergarten?

    I have been so emotional recently, and I can’t tell you how much… what’s the word for it… solidarity? it made me feel to read about you crying when you and Mark were trying to part.

    We’re having the blues, and it’s still summer!!

    • Yes, the freezer compartment broke. It’s fixed now… story to come about this fascinating experience 😆

      And yes, there are two levels of kindergarten. Seems normal to me, France has three.

      I’m sorry to hear you’re on that weird emotional roller coaster as well… Did something trigger it or is it just that weird fall mood?

  4. Hi… I just read two of your articles back to back. The first one gave me hope( I have just been granted a PR visa to Canada ,the second …not so much. I hope can become friends. I have been worried about starting afresh and most people I tell i’m Relocating to Canada are wary and always try to give me ‘realistic advice’. Please help me.

    • Welcome to Canada!

      Of course, moving here is scary. We’ve all been there! It gets easier over the days, the weeks, the months… presumably, you wanted to come here, right? Focus on the positive sides for now and take it easy 🙂

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