If you have been following us and our move to Kenya, you will know by now that our transition back here has been rougher than we expected. We realized that we had a slew of expectations of what our life would look like here, mostly on the basis of what our life looked like when we used to live here. But alas, it’s been four years since and things have changed.
Let me just say that this is not a bad thing. It just has meant that we have had to take time and effort to readjust our mindsets.
It has been some bigger things like how we were excited to head back to the church we used to go to but, after much prayer and some tears, we have settled into another great church.
It’s been smaller things too like the fact that I didn’t think we needed a microwave because we did just fine without one in 2012. Fast forward to 2017 and I tried to live without one for a week and I just couldn’t do it. I caved and bought one. Now it’s probably the most used appliance in the house.
Again, most of these things have just needed some minor readjustment from our end but it has all worked out for the best.
But, there has been one expectation that I have wrestled with for months. I debated writing a post about it because I wanted to hash it out with God and get it all sorted before I decided to write about it. But I am not there yet and I am now at peace with not totally understanding it. It is an expectation that I didn’t even know I had until it started slapping me in the face.
It’s the expectation that my kids were going to grow up like I did.
This hit me in the gut on Mother’s Day. I headed to Mercy’s school where they had prepared a special presentation for Mothers. I arrived and was ushered into the cafeteria for some snacks before the performance. As I sat down at the table (alone), I looked around at the rest of the mothers and realized how different Mercy’s childhood is going to be from mine. I grew up in a small, white, Canadian town where religion wasn’t evident and everything was clean and most of the people were all middle class who looked fairly similar. And here I was in the cafeteria surrounded by women of several different faiths, from a myriad of backgrounds (Arab, Turkish, Somali, Kenyan, British), a handful of different cultures and languages, and quite the mixture of exotic perfumes.
I tried to convince myself that this was so cool. My daughter was going to have such a rich and interesting childhood. But deep down, that was a hard truth to grapple with because it was so very different to what I know is ‘normal’ for childhood.
I started to see some really large differences that my daughters were going to experience and I couldn’t (and still can’t) quite decide if they are better or not. Education is one of them. The Kenyan education system is admittedly not the best. There are a handful of private, international schools in the area but as I have researched them I have realized that they are either way too expensive or the education is still not that great. I’ve dabbled with the thought of homeschool but my Mercy thrives around other kids and it would drive all of us insane having her home all the time. This is may be my biased opinion, but none of them can compare to the great, FREE education we can get in Canada.
And here is the part that stings: we can actually have that great education. We can pick up and get on a plane tomorrow and my daughters can have a great education along with great healthcare, water parks and playgrounds, clean and safe environments, governments that take care of them well, the comfort of blending in and not being the minority, and all sorts of amazing opportunities Canada has to offer.
But they are here because their parents have been called to serve God in this place. It is because of our choice to follow God’s leading in our lives that our children won’t experience the ‘best’ that they have access to. Because I have chosen to lay down my life, my kids may not get the ‘best’ childhood like I got.
Whoa. That’s hard to digest as a Mama. Cause don’t all us Mama’s want the best for our kids?
Enter in the Mom guilt. It’s so real, isn’t it Mommies?
You might be reading this and think I am way too overdramatic or that I am being selfish for not giving my kids the best. Maybe you can totally relate or you may have some answers for me. Trust me, I am feeling all the same feels. I have had so many mixed emotions over this.
But here are a few truths that I have come to realize:
- Yes, my childhood was awesome. I was safe and secure and well taken care of. I had a great education and loads of opportunities. But the biggest reason my childhood was the ‘best’ was because of my parents. Their parenting was on point – something I am realizing more and more as I am now a parent and find myself reverting back to things my parents did to us when we were little.
Not to toot my own horn, but one thing Kelvin and I are kind of awesome at is parenting. By all means, we definitely don’t have it all figured out but some of the basics like security, boundaries, discipline, choices and consequences, quality time, teaching them Jesus, and unconditional love we are getting a good handle of. I was chatting about this issue with my friend the other day and she said to me, “You know you can have kids grow up in Canada like you did but they have terrible parents and turn out to be messed up kids.” That was like a light bulb for me. So my kids can also grow up in a community that is a little more dysfunctional than I did but with an awesome family life they can still thrive.
- I need to let some things go and just flow it. Like Mercy’s new accent…..oh Lord have mercy on us! This accent is something I have never heard before. This poor 3 year old is all mixed up with everything we have exposed her to that she is trying to make sense of it and it comes out in some crazy accent that is a mix of Kenyan/English/British/Indian and Peppa Pig. I was determined to force it out of her by speaking only the most Canadian of English at home but I have conceded to just let her have her own special accent. She’ll just have to get used to us mocking her about it.
- God loves my kids way more than I do. He has amazing plans for them. He has given them their own lives and their own stories and their own childhood that may be different than mine but that doesn’t mean it will be worse. I need to trust that He knew that their parents would follow Him and that fact will be apart of my daughters’ own lives and stories and testimonies. He’s got them in His hand. And that is probably the BEST place for them to be.
- My kids will have an AWESOME childhood. Did I mention that Mercy rode a camel yesterday? Or that we had the most delicious, fresh, local mango for lunch? Or that the kids can swim at the beach all year round? Or that they have sleepovers with their big cousin every weekend? Or that they get to go with Daddy to the nicest soccer field and run around whenever they want? Or that they have an amazing community who love them like their own? Or that Mercy takes a tuktuk (rickshaw) to school and back everyday? Or that they often see monkeys on our balcony?
I think they are going to be just fine.