I have an intense love-hate relationship with my husband's work. I love the passion & commitment of those who work for the organisation. I love the NGO's values & I love what they do & am very impressed by their work. It is full of professional, intelligent & committed people. I hate the hours he works though. The organisation also has a very hard working work ethic, it even has an unofficial nickname amongst its employees, relating to this ethic. My husband's perfectionist personality also means that, in my view, he works far TOO Hard. I hate the fact that because of an audit, meetings in Georgia & a course in Italy, he can't take a family holiday during the summer holidays at all. It does tend to dominate our life, but then he is a CEO so the buck stops with him.
Last week 28 visitors from my husband's organisation were visiting, so there were meetings before meetings, meetings after the meetings, & meetings over breakfast, coffee, dinner & even more meetings about future meetings. When these people have come from all over the world, for a big regional conference, & when little old Albania has a chance for face to face talks with the 'high ups', as the national director calls them, you grab it.
I had to go along to a few of the dinners too, to meet the new boss etc. Bit of a culture shock after my usual social circle of mums, missionaries, my cleaner & 14 yr old students. By the end of the week, my husband was exhausted & even further behind with work because of all this. His emails have reached a record 200 unread ones, he has missed about 3 important deadlines, & as a result of one meeting, has heard that even though he spent the whole of his 1st yr undoing the damage of his predecessor, a corrupt local, & getting staff back onside, the accounts in order, recruiting good staff & growing the programme; the 2nd year involved legal & financial separation from the umbrella NGO, a huge task, which as anyone knows in a developing country is also a time consuming and bureaucratically nightmarish job, & now hoping to have a yr when he could concentrate on consolidation & growth, he has been told Albania is to merge with the Kosovo operation & he needs to plan the strategy for that & then implement it.
Oh & by the way, “neither you nor the CEO in Kosovo will be running it”
So we have also learned that, although they like my husband & will 'find him a job' within the organisation, he can't stay put. He has also been told his boss has 'a role in mind for him' - an advisor job, which, when you have run and managed a company on your own, is not much cop. He was also told that he won't be moved till next summer 2011, as the boss knows what it is like with children. Great, so he grants us 6 mths grace so kids can finish the school year. It still means we will have moved 3 times in 5 ½ years. At one of these dinners, in conversation, I noticed that many of them had spent 6 yrs here, 7 yrs there, 9 yrs there. They didn't seem to move every 2-3 years. Why do we have to, & will it always be like this I wonder? I feel like a pawn. Pretty powerless.
My husband says he wished he hadn't told me because he knows I will worry away at it. I can't help it. I never wanted to be an embassy or military wife. I (naively it turns out) assumed if we lived abroad it would MAINLY be in one place. Always said I just couldn't keep moving countries every few years. But then I 'always said' quite a few things. I keep having to readjust my parameters, or rather extend them to encompass more & more conditions, or so it seems.
It's EXHAUSTING, moving countries, learning the ropes, possibly a language, adapting to a new culture, environment, climate, way of life, settling the kids in school, finding a house, finding a car, getting all those residence permits driving licences etc. again. I think I'm too old for this.
And besides which, normal developing country exigencies notwithstanding, I like it here! The children are happy, the climate is great, we love where we live, I have a job, it's only 3 hrs from the UK etc. I even quite like the chaos & unpredictability. I think I might have been ruined permanently for life in the UK. I might even find it a bit boring now.......
It's also possible that we would move back to the UK, IF my husband took one of these airy fairy nondescript advisor jobs which he really doesn't want. As he says, being an advisor all you can do is 'make suggestions' no one has to take any notice. It's a fairly toothless role. I'm not actually ready to move back to the UK. Am under no illusions about it. The traffic, the expense, the weather, the class sizes (my children are in a tiny family ish school with 10 in a class) My sister has been back 10 yrs now from Canada & still struggles with life in the UK. My brother has been back from New Zealand for 2 yrs, still no permanent job, still utterly miserable. I don't want to be the third sibling to do that!
And as I said love-hate. For all his hard work & long hours, my husband LOVES his job & loves what he does. And I am so pleased he has finally found his niche in micro-finance. It has taken him 20 yrs to get there after a lot of blind alleys & wrong turnings, unemployment, risk taking, lowly jobs & starting again at the bottom in Development. I hope he doesn't lose that.