We have been spending a lot more time at our house these days what with the whole not really leaving with the exception of hospital visits and doctor appointments (and trips to visit our friends from the Congo). Time at home with the girls has meant a lot of You Tube videos and board games. One day last week we got out some videos from our time in Africa and watched them for at least 2 hours. We have been back almost a year. Crazy.
Of Anni’s 6 years she has spent 2 years in America and 4 years in Africa. Watching the videos brought back many amazing memories and difficult challenges. Memories flooded our minds and we laughed a lot and then we cried. Annikah and Evy both started tearing up and asking when we were going back. After a few minutes it was clear this was not just an emotional outburst but something deeper. Evy ended up throwing herself on the floor crying, “I want Africa! I want Africa!” and Annikah sobbed through tears that she misses “my friends, my school, and how hot it was everyday. ” Evy added that she wants “my swing and wadudu (bugs) and go swimming.” Tonight at dinner Evy cried for about 30 minutes about missing her best friend and partner in crime Marti and all she could muster the strength to say was “I miss marti” again and again through her sobs. It was so sad and precious. They struggle to put words to their loss. I know this because I do as well. We talked through this sadness and we made a list of all the amazing things about there and here. We all struggle to express with words the gratitude we feel for having been a part of different worlds, for getting to see and feel and touch and taste and experience it all. We remembered how much we missed America when we were there and how we longed to see family and eat Mexican food in the AC. We laughed that now we wish we could eat street food with friends while watching the fishing boats. We loved there and we love here. We embraced living there while unable to leave behind all of what made us American. It is a weird, uncomfortable, but beautiful space and our girls are still working it all out in their little hearts and minds. It has been a year but a lot still feels new and raw.
A couple days ago a friend posted this link about TCK’s (third culture kids) who spend a part of their formative years living in the space between cultures and worlds. So much of this is true for our girls. A lot of it deeply resonated with me. I have cried myself to sleep at night wondering why the heck I took my babies to a place where they got malaria and nearly died. I have wondered if we were making the best choices for them. Parenting any children is wicked hard and requires lots of dying to self and some days I fear I have not made the right decisions for them. But then I see how much they embrace cultures and value people that are different from themselves and I defend those same decisions. I have seen them excel and create a space for themselves in places where it seemed none existed. I have watched and been in awe of their ability to make friends anywhere. I think they are so brave to thrive where ever we are and be courageous and embrace life in the moment. I know that despite their kid complaining and whining they are grateful kids and have felt my heart swell while overhearing Anni telling a new friend that in Africa kids cannot always go to the doctor. They know because they have seen a life that is very different than the American brand of comfort and security. They have empathy in ways simply talking about it could not teach. I know they will and have faced struggles too but I am jealous they learned so much so young and we pray that God uses it and them for His glory.
Our girls are fearless and many days I want to more like them. Annikah and Evy loved Disney just like any kids but as Anni watched a slide show of our pictures of a trip to Rome 7 years ago she “ohhed and awed” and asked when she could jump on a plane and explore it for herself. Jason and I looked at each other and had a quiet moment thinking “our kid is rad” that was priceless. She has asked when she can go to Egypt, Rome, India, and Micronesia on several occasions. She seeks adventure and feels deeply impacted when she hears stories of people of different cultures. When we pray for the people in the world those prayers burrow deep within each of us because we know names and faces and stories of people we miss dearly that reside across oceans and time zones. I know for sure our girls are amazing and complex and I love them. They have seen and experienced much and packed a lot into their years so far. I am privileged to get a front row seat for all that unfolds in their lives. I pray I am worthy of the task He has laid before me as their Mama,