The window is open and blowing fresh air into my bedroom while I’m sitting in my favorite spot of the house; my side of the bed. I am desperately trying to keep my eyes open from early morning Seminary starting up again this week. Only 14 weeks to go. Yes, I am counting.
The factory is processing something meaty and sweet today. That’s a strange mix of smells but I’m not complaining. At least they aren’t processing dog food, nor are the neighbors burning their garbage. Those are REALLY stinky days in our home, making us sick to our stomachs.
The past week was very enjoyable. I spent my mornings sleeping in until I gently woke myself up from enough sleep. I enjoyed yoga, walking with my dear friend Barbara and just taking in the adjustment to having my two oldest kids come home. But by the end of the week it got rough and “mean mom” came for a visit.
By Saturday night I knew mean mom needed to go back to her dark place and chill out, but how? Why was I so upset? So disappointed in my oldest kids behavior, more Ginger Snap than El Gringo? And why was I feeling so out of control?
With Sunday coming the next day, I felt I needed to take the time to sit and reflect on how “I” was truly feeling and what I felt was causing my immense frustration. I realized that I felt out of control because my oldest two felt their lives were out of control. I was upset that all of my hard work and sacrifice homeschooling my kids the last 2 years didn’t stop my kids from feeling this way. What was I to do to help them?
I had to admit that families are effected on every level when the balance of a family is upset. I just couldn’t figure what was truly upsetting the balance. Instead of holding my breath for the answer to come and continue to allow “Mean Mom” to be a part of our lives, I realized that the first step was with me. I needed to apologize to my kids for how I was reacting to the way that I felt. I also needed to try to help them understand that I wanted to find a solution to the unbalance we were feeling. I didn’t know WHAT the solution would be but I knew that if I practiced faith in finding a solution, a solution would eventually come.
Church actually went REALLY well the next day. It seems to be getting better and better each Sunday. I even had a new member of our ward come up to me, after the sacrament was administered, and ask if he could please translate the rest of the meeting for me. I did hesitate, not wanting to draw any attention onto myself, but I felt a sweet calm within me, encouraging me to allow him this opportunity. So I said yes!
I actually REALLY enjoyed the meeting. I realized that in the 30 months we had lived here, I had only heard a sacrament meeting translated to me 3 times. 3 TIMES! I was nervous to hear what people actually were sharing. I didn’t know if I would agree with what was being said, nor did I know if I would feel anything good from what I was hearing . . . but I did!
I heard people share their intimate experiences with the Spirit, I heard their council and advice from lessons they had personally been learning and most importantly, I felt the Spirit share with me that what they were expressing was truth. What a joyous gift we have to be able to hear one another and decide if what they are saying is truth or not and then allowing ourselves the right to add that truth to our lives. We are truly blessed!
Monday came and a fellow homeschool mother shared with me the name of a speaker who advocates homeschooling children. Intrigued, I was led to watch a video that reminded me of most of the reasons why I homeschool my children. With that sweet and joyous reminder, as only the Spirit can do for us, I was able to calmly share with my 3 oldest children my gratitude for being able to homeschool them. I felt joyous as I shared my feelings and saw the lights of understanding start to emerge within their eyes. The “mean mom” was going back to her dungeon of fear.
Then last night, while having a discussion with my husband over the phone, I recalled a term that a dear friend shared with me, something unique that is specifically happening to our children, something I hadn’t really given much attention to before. Our kids are NOT “NORMAL!” They never will be. Yes, NEVER.
Because they are 3rd Culture Kids!
What are 3rd Culture Kids? “TCKs are people who have spent a portion of their formative childhood years (0-18) in a culture different than their parents’. Most TCKs will return to their parents’ home country at some point in their lives, undergoing repatriation. TCKs tend to develop their identities while living abroad, thus blending their “home” culture with the culture of the world around them. People who have attended international schools, who are children of diplomats, “military brats,” or children of missionaries are just a few examples of TCKs.
I realized this morning that I need to learn to respect that my kids aren’t having a childhood that I can quite understand. They feel vulnerable, misplaced and even alone in a big huge world filled with people. They need constant reassurance that they are “okay” and that they will succeed in life. They don’t need permission from society to belong because they already do. Heavenly Father says so!
My kids may be living outside the USA, creating this official title of 3rd Culture Kid, but shouldn’t all members in the LDS church be considered 3rd Culture Individuals? From the moment a member decides to apply the principles of the gospel in their lives, they begin to change. So much so that they start to look very different from their friends or even from the families they are raised in.
This choice affects the choice of foods they eat, beverages they will drink, activities that they will participate in during the week, how they will spend their leisure time, even what they will wear or how they will decorate their bodies. That is a tall order in a world that teaches ANYTHING GOES!
So how do I raise my unique brand of 3rd Culture Kids? The same way I would anywhere on this earth . . . LOVING THEM! Embrace who you KNOW they are today but who you KNOW they can become. Encourage them to discover who they are, for there is only ONE them in this world and there never was, nor will there be another one of them.
Tell them WHO they are . . . a daughter or son, a sister or brother, a cousin, a friend, a helper, a reader, a guitar/piano/trumpet/recorder player, an artist, a historian, a scriptorian, a scientist, a mathematician, a seamstress/tailor, a cook, a baker, a writer, a dream maker, a teacher, a leader, an adventurer, a Rubik’s Cube solver, a Lego creator, an apprenticing mother or father, a healer, but most of ALL . . . they ARE a Child of God!
They are seen. They are known. They ARE heard. So they are NEVER truly alone!
Scripture reading time after a LONG day. Our Bishop gave us a Book of Mormon Challenge to read the entire book in 6 months. So we had to upgrade our usual amount of reading 6 fold. It was a rough first few days but now we are starting to get the hang of it.
See, the solution is coming. And now I have work to do. I have been given the opportunity to learn more about raising our unique kids. It has been confirmed again that I know that the Lord and our Father in Heaven are mindful of them and their unique situation, as well as mine. For I have no idea what I am doing – but They do.
They KNOW who my kids truly are and they will bless me as I get to learn, line upon line, how to help them the best ways that only I can. Knowing this does bring me comfort and joy, as I hope it brings to you as well. I am learning more and more that there are no accidents in this life. Yes, mistakes are made and we tend to call them accidents because we did not intend to make those mistakes. But I believe that even mistakes are part of this BIG, BEAUTIFUL PLAN!
For the more we learn, the more we grow to become like Them!
Thanks for listening,
P.S.: The smell is now making me nauseous. Time to take El Gringo shopping for his birthday. Perfect timing.