Woman playing with children In about three months our lives will drastically change. My husband and I, with our two little girls, will leave the place we’ve called home for the last six years. We will probably never return.

When we first came to Congo, we didn’t know much about the place, we didn’t know a soul here and we definitely didn’t have plans to start a family in this country. My, how everything’s changed.

Just as we had a “feeling” we should move to Congo. Now we have that same “feeling” that it’s time for us to leave. It just feels right and we have wonderful plans on the horizon, but boy is this hard. In fact, we’re feeling a bit lost in our last months here. This is the only home our children have ever known. Our girls have been loved by the nanny or “Mama” who’s helped us raise them for as long as they’ve been loved by us. This will be hard, but it is time.

And so I have lots of questions about how to do this, but more importantly how to do this right. Will there be something meaningful I forget to say or do? Do we make a big deal out of our last goodbyes? Or are our children really too young to understand? There will be tears. There might even be sobs. I hope we don’t needlessly upset them.

I can’t help but think about how much easier our departure would be if we didn’t have children. Their two little lives became a game changer for us living in Congo. Once we had children and the people around us began to care for them and love them, I could feel the roots sprout from my feet and bind us here. They helped us burp our girls when they were babies, nurse them back to health when they were sick, they’ve memorized their every tick and tock.  This will be hard, but it is time.

Will our children have any authentic memories from these first years of their lives? Or will their only understanding of Congo come through the stories we tell them over and over? Will the photos they see when they’re older be the only images that remain in their heads? This will be hard, but it is time.

My husband and I always say the hardest part about living abroad is the leaving part. Goodbyes in your host country are usually forever. Sure, it’s hard leaving the United States and saying goodbye to parents and grandparents, but you know they’ll always be a part of your life. You’ll see them again. They’re your home base. They have the internet and email and Facebook and all those other lovely things that keep up connected to those we care about in the States.

When we leave Congo, there will be no email updates. We will not see pictures of the loved ones we leave here. We will miss births and weddings and all the minutiae in between that founded our friendships. This will be hard, but it is still the right time.

Has anyone left the country in which you’ve raised your children, never to return? Was there anything you did to make your last days meaningful or your departure easier?   

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Sarah.  You can find Sarah blogging with Jill Humphrey at Mama Congo.

Photo credit to Jill humphrey.