I am so thankful for things that seem to transcend time zones and culture. Things that I know are the same no matter where I am or who I’m with or what language I’m (kind of) speaking.
What were once mundane tasks and chores I had to grit through with Shepherd, the things that would leave me counting down the hours until Stephen got home or until bedtime, are now the things that make me feel sane. Because culture shock is tricky, and sometimes I get worried I’m slowly losing bits of myself.
Mothering reminds me that though they may be expressed differently in this season, and may be even a little tucked away and hidden, my personality and gifts and humor and skills are all still there.
I’m still me. Which, depending on the issue or the day, is either really reassuring or really frustrating.
One of the millions of things I’ve either heard or read about culture shock and the transition to being third culture is that one will easily romanticize whichever culture they are not in. So, when I’m annoyed with Thailand and everything here feels hard, it’s easy to think to myself well, if we were in America this would NOT be happening or doing this in America is way easier and better or I would never feel this way at home in America.
And those are all lies. Because the reality is my garbage is the same garbage there as it is here. The issues I had at home are the issues I have abroad.
Sure, paying my phone bill takes way less actual time in America than it seems to in Thailand. That is true. But, the amount of patience and flexibility I have are the exact same in both places. This place just seems to reveal just how impatient and hurried I really am. It certainly isn’t Thailand’s fault that an errand taking multiple trips and a couple hours makes me impatient, annoyed, self-righteous and more swear-y than an R-rated movie. That’s on me. You can imagine what a massive bummer it is to realize that not so far under the surface of my personality lays all this nasty crap.
Apparently, all the “better” ways at home are merely a precarious system of things which keep me from snapping someone’s head off and using a 20$ expletive.
If all the nice, orderly, dependable systems in your life suddenly unraveled or ceased to exist entirely, what of you would be left?
You. You would be left. Whatever there is of you, it’s there no matter where you are. No matter what or who is holding you up or together, you are the same.
And, again, that’s either deeply reassuring or really frustrating.
Which is why I love being a mom right now. More than normal, I think. More than I loved being a mom at home.
Because while most things here are showing me just how impatient and selfish and hurried and self-centered and shallow I am, mothering shows me that there’re still parts of me I like. Parts of me that I worked hard on with Shep. Parts of me I prayed about, confessed to friends and gave to God to change and make better. A couple of those hard fought gems are still in me. And when it feels like I am being molded and pushed and prodded from all sides, it’s wonderful to find those pieces still there.
So I am loving the mundane right now.
The moments and things that used to make me want to punch someone in the face or buy a pack of cigarettes and smoke them all while drinking a long island are now the times that remind me I’m still me and Stephen and I are still us.
Yes, there are many times throughout the day where I imagine a life where I’m not generally tired or smell faintly of old milk, where my house is clean and I’m not constantly doing laundry, a time when spraying poop out of diapers wasn’t something that I EVEN DID because I was only responsible for the poop I made. Yes, I think about those times a lot.
Doing the laundry all day every day and wiping butts and nursing a baby who seems to enjoy getting a power washer hose of milk shot into his tiny face and being woken up by a teething toddler who literally just needs one of us to go into his room, scoop him up and give him a hug to make him feel better, all of those things are what help make and keep me.
And I know how quick these days go.
I swear these were Shepherd’s squished cheeks five minutes ago. Well, they kind of were, but you know what I mean.
So, right now. Right this very instant while I have a big baby growing teeth (Dear God, why? Really? I love you many and believe you to be wise, but a simple thing like teeth and how they happen to children makes me WONDER.) and a tiny baby needing me roughly twenty-EVERYTHING seven, I’m just giving in.
I’m giving into the milk smell. It’s what it is, and in the grand scheme of life, matters zero. Milky here we come.
I’m giving into the mess. How shallow: the fact that I could potentially resent my children because my floors don’t shine? Sick. Like, actually sick. I have strong feelings toward myself around this issue. I find it petty and so superficial and probably sinful that I get so worked up about my house being clean and my laundry being done and things being organized. Loving that stuff more than meeting my family’s needs is definitely a sin. And the pressure it puts on me is heavy and totally unnecessary. I’ve let it go. Right now, the reality of my life is that if you sit on the rug in the living room, chances are high that when you stand up, you will have crumbs on your booty and legs. Don’t like Shepherd’s half chewed cracker remnants? Sit elsewhere. You’ve been warned.
I’m giving into being kind of tired most of the time. I have two babies. Two people in diapers. Two bodies of which I am in charge. I am in charge of their cleanliness and nutrition and sleeping and contentment and social development and cognitive stimulation and affection-getting. That’s a lot. So it’s okay and normal that I’m tired. And when I don’t get down time because someone is sad or needs a story read to them or wants to play in the pool or needs my boob again, well, I’m not to be surprised. Because they’re tiny and their mine. All mine. And I am literally all theirs. Stephen and I are all they have. We’re their people. We are close to the only ones Valor knows well and feels safe with. And all that’s okay. Not being surprised by the tiredness and interruptions of things that leads to said tiredness, means I won’t be frustrated with it. It means I know this is my life right now, this is the season I’m in. So why fight it? Why get upset and annoyed with my life (and consequently, weather intentional or not, at the one who wants the story read or the boob sucked) when this is just how it is. Again, God forgive me for ever making Shep feel like he’s less important than my phone or my book or my meal; for ever making him feel like a bother.
I’m giving into top knots. Whatever. It’s hot and ain’t no one got time to fiddle with hair. Not here, not nowhere. Gimme a pony binder.
…and while some of this seems obvious and even silly, it’s my reality. Some of it is sin and painful to share and put into words, but it’s all me.
The mundane sacred work of being a mom isn’t contingent on where I live. And what mothering reveals of my character and heart isn’t either.
It’s me. It’s all me wherever I am.
So while some of it reveals the ugly and sinful stuff, some of mothering reveals the beautiful and lovely stuff. Some of living here reveals the gross, and some reveals the resilient and adaptable.
I am so thankful to these boys who make me a mom, and to the mundane tasks that are keeping me right now. I never thought I’d love the hard work of this so much. Funny, life.
Funny. And smelly. Specifically smelly like milk and poop.