Saturday, November 14, 2015

My Role in Work Overseas and Being a Mother

I have so so many emails and blogs half written and unposted and unsent. There's something about this stage of life that has made me need to write but unable to write anything cohesive enough to finalize. It's like I'm so in the middle of so many things, in the need of processing but not past the middle enough to be able to reach the end of thoughts, to see the whole way around the story. But I need to write, and we have nearly been here six months now, so I think I will begin writing bits of some of the things I grapple with here.

First is motherhood and my role here. Some snippets I've written over the past months:

 The last couple of weeks were tougher for me psychologically, maybe because Isaac has officially started work and it's so beautiful to watch him doing his thing. He loves teaching, he loves planning to teach, he loves studying, and doing it all here where it really feels like good teaching is meaningful... well, it's a privilege, and it's really cool. As a wife it's so great to see your husband in his element.

On the other hand, it's tough by comparison. I am always wrestling with questions of what my work is and whether or not I am meaningful. Here, for now, my work is at home with the kids, but the fact is that I do not feel fulfilled by that work. I watch Isaac with some envy, wishing I had one thing that was mine, that I know I am called to and gifted for. I wrestle with questions – what is my work here? Yes, a mother, but other than that? What is my place?

And so it is that I've had days where Isaac says, “Okay, I'm off to work! Love you guys.” And I've turned away because I don't want him to see my tears, to have to carry the burden of my own longing for my own work outside of the home. Of course he sees and turns around and holds me because he's great, but in any case what I'm working through right now. 

And this one:

I knew that on arrival I would be at home without a formal role, but I assumed I'd find a way to minister informally. That's been more challenging than I expected. I haven't found ways to be involved in the neighborhood and get to know people there. I will continue to look for opportunities at church, but that's tough to do while juggling kids too. A lot of the things I would do to be involved and get to know people.... are just a lot more limited than I expected because of the kids.
It is a mix, I think, of learning to be a stay at home mother and wrestling with my role in our work overseas.

  • I want to learn contentment when this is simply the life I am called to right now. My heart needs to learn fulfillment and joy in the right things. I need to learn the honor of the simple things, serving a meal, weeding the yard, playing with my kids. There is some internal definition of what is “meaningful” in me that needs to be adjusted. That's happening now. 
  • On the other hand, I do not want to learn contentment “because a woman's place is in the home” or because “this is the highest honor of life”. It grates against me that people think that or that I may be conveying that impression. I believe my kids need to be cared for and raised and nurtured and taught. Right now it is my turn to take the role of doing all of that full-time from home because of their ages, the resources around us, and the fact that we have just made major transitions and the kids need a strong and stable home.  But I am not here to, "Raise babies while her husband works."
  • The fact that I long for other things, that my heart is restless, does that mean that God has put in me a call to other things, that He is gently leading me towards other ministry too? Or does it mean that hearts are restless and always seeking for fulfillment and meaning, never satisfied? I don't know if there is a way to know this right now, so I pray, I look for opportunities, and I take one step at a time. I have no idea what next year will look like. I have no idea what 5 years from now will look like. 
  • That's not totally true. I do know that my kids will get older, be out of the preschooler/toddler stage. Right now there is no other option but homeschooling them. Honestly, if another option comes up, I'd jump at it. I am still entirely unsure about the homeschooling thing, not sure at all that I will enjoy being a teacher.
  • Although I wrestle with my role overall, the daily rhythm of our home is in place and going okay. The kids are thriving and I cook and clean and run this ship without falling apart or being overwhelmed most of the time. I am thankful for that!
  • I have been surprised to find unanimous agreement that counseling and training in counseling is desired here, formally at the school and informally in the community. I see a lot of ways this can be used, and it's what my degree is in. Because of that, and my longing for defined work, I am looking at ways to get that MA in counseling I've pondered for so long. 
  • Although I am grappling with the limitations of being a stay at home mom of little people, I am also sure that as we settle into home here, my informal role will unfold. It will take time, but I will find a place in this community. As I manage to get to a few events, as my kids begin to finally ease into this life enough to play with other kids at events rather than clinging to me.... we make progress. I start to know some people well enough to use them as my resources to ask them to guide me. We have a group of students or staff in our home and I get excited about some project we're in. These things will blossom. It just takes time. In Dallas it took two years to feel content. It hasn't even been six months here yet.

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