Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Mommy Indulgences

Right now I’m studying the Word with a group of friends, working through the book of Daniel. The study was written specifically to women in the US with a call to be set-apart like Daniel, who refused the richer foods of the king’s table for grains and vegetables. If you are a vegetarian and hoping I will now expound on the glories of meatless living, I’m sorry to disappoint. The focus was determining to seek what God wants from us as opposed to what feels good or comes naturally.

It’s easy for me, on the other side of this ‘terrestrial ball’ to smile a sweet smile and say that a lesson on over-indulgence really doesn’t apply to me. After all, haven’t I just committed to living in a place without steady running water or electricity for years on end? Isn’t the nearest shopping mall, dentist or post office in the next country? Some days I feel I couldn’t over-indulge myself no matter how hard I tried!

It’s true that I am free from assaulting ads selling me an endless list of ‘necessities’. Free from that barrage of choices at the coffee shop – will that be a venti nonfat sugarfree decaf macciato with whip? When you are an alien, it is a whole lot less tempting to get that cute new sweater at that cute new boutique – even if I wanted a sweater (of all things!) in this heat, and ordered it online and shipped it across the world, no one will be impressed here. They haven’t heard of that boutique and don’t care for sweaters. How do I indulge myself? I thought about giving up something for Lent. One friend suggested meat. I count it a special privilege to eat a few bites of beef twice a week, so that didn’t sound like a nutritionally sound thing to sacrifice… how to exercise some self-control even here … I’m still chewing on this idea of over-indulgence…

And in walks my knight in shining armor.

Two years ago Kent and I started this awesome new tradition: Talking. Alone. Sounds revolutionary – I know. But as most anyone with three young kids will tell you, it’s not that easy to find time to talk when you are alone and not completely exhausted! So we instituted a little family meeting just after breakfast to go over the events of the day. At first it was rather formal, but within a few months we had caught up on all the major stuff and could talk less about logistics and childcare and more about what we really think on a given issue. It was during one of these chats last week where I confessed this temptation to exempt myself from this over-indulgence issue in Daniel.

Kent shared something really profound with me (yet again), and since it’s still churning around in my head, I will share it with you. Here it is true that we do not face temptation to indulge in spending money per say, or to indulge in fabulous vacations, pink poodles or fancy cars. (Okay, maybe those didn’t tempt me in America either – at least not toward poodles or cars.) But one thing we are tempted with every single day is to indulge ourselves in solitude and familiarity. Stay. Home. Shut out that complicated, hot, messy, foreign world outside and stay where it is comfortable and familiar and you can mostly understand everyone who is speaking and eat more or less the way you want to. Ouch. I know I have over-indulged there! I have used the excuse that I just don’t speak enough Swahili yet, etc. It’s truly exhausting to go out to market once again, stumble around looking like an idiot, speaking like a 4-yr-old, and find out at the eighth store that what you want to buy isn’t there after all. (Or maybe you find it, buy it, come home and figure out you paid 2-3 times too much for it…)

Indeed I have over-indulged in solitude and familiarity, but not as often as some might think. I haven’t yet figured out how to do all this language and culture learning while renovating a house and homeschooling 3 children. News flash: Kim does not know everything and cannot do everything! This first year here I have put the family and schooling above language and culture learning. And while I find that limiting and frustrating, I know it is right. It is likely the reason our kids have handled this transition so well. So I will ‘shelve’ the jug of guilt over all I could be doing in the community.

This summer over school break we will all, I hope, get out there and get good at speaking Swahili, and until then I will have to be content with looking like an idiot.

It’s good for me.

Like eating brussel sprouts.

So do you over-indulge on something? Are any other Mommies out there keenly aware of what you sacrifice or give up to care for your children?

Random Ride

I have keenly felt my lack of storytelling and family news here on the blog. There are such great things to share, and so little energy for sharing them at the end of a day. Especially a day like today. So I will subject you to the tidbits of our household instead. Hold on. It will be a random ride!

Stuff running through my head…

A lazy Saturday morning (now 3 days ago) I gave James one of my favorite chapter books from my childhood – The Happy Hollisters (what’s not to love about 4 siblings in the 50’s who solve mysteries?). I read it in Grade 4, but James is supposedly reading at that level 2 years earlier than I was… Anyway, the book is 183 pages long. He was done before lunch. Yes. 3 hours. Done. Stunned me a bit. Today, Tuesday he has finished 2 more the same size since Saturday. This kid needs a library!

Today the boys found a stick bug in the yard outside for the first time. We had been looking for months ever since they learned about them in school. Lo and behold! Our own stick with legs rocking slowly along like the praying mantis we know so well. What a creative God we love! I didn’t get to see it, but the boys say he had gorgeous blue and yellow spotted wings like a butterfly, but when still looked just like a stick to me. James and Joel were timid at first, running around excited. Then discovered the terror it induced in their younger sister… It entered the house twice… to my knowledge… (pictures will come)

I had a great conversation this afternoon with my Congolese friend Rachele about how funny it is that black people use whitening cream while white people use darkening cream. People with curly hair want straight hair. People with straight hair want curly hair. No one is content. Here everyone wants to be fatter, while in the ‘first world’ everyone wants to be thinner. Rachele was honestly shocked that people could ever really want to be thinner or darker…

It was one of our hottest days here today, muggy and in the 90s. Still better than I remember the rainforest to be, but hot nonetheless. Got out loose linen to wear and enjoyed every sip of ice cold water. Making my rosebush very happy – went from 1-4 blooms just today! Our water pressure is so low that most showers are basically cool/cold, but I really don’t mind right now!

Anna has become my shadow at times even refusing to go to the potty if I won’t come along for the social fun of it. Doesn’t the girls group going to the bathroom together start in jr. high? She is so incredibly verbal talking about everything she sees and asking me an unending barrage of questions that I don’t often want to come along for the social fun of it, introvert that I am. I did a bit of stitching this afternoon, Anna was right there in her princess sparkle purple tutu ‘measuring’ the couch (I finished half the couch cushions last month) with my tape measure. I’m chopping veggies for dinner, and Anna is right there (tutu intact) asking and tasting everything. I try to savor all this shadowing. This too shall pass. And all too quickly!

In a series of unfortunate events, I had everything planned for beef stew for dinner tonight. Sweltering heat is really not beef stew kind of weather… But what can you do? There’s not exactly pizza delivery here. Not even late-night stores. We ate it anyway. Anna never minds another chance to have potatoes! She says at dinner, “Mom, you know we have TWO kitchens in our house.” (referring to her toy kitchen as well) She promptly wanted to get down mid-meal and go prepare a potato stew for us. I held her off until after dinner. She followed the exact steps I had used earlier in the kitchen. First put in the meat. Then cut the vegetables and put them in. Then the potatoes. (Hers cooked in the oven for whatever reason.) Then she set our table (a wayward dining room chair). She sets the pot on the ‘table’, opens it up and says, “HMM! That smells… dinnery!”

Spoken like the true daughter of two linguists…

There’s my crazy day.