*****Don’t forget the giveaway! I don’t want it to get pushed to the bottom of the blog where it is hard to see and no one else will enter!*****
Why is it we always want what we do not have? In the spirit of “keeping the blog real,” I just thought I’d share where I am right now… Coming home is a bit strange. For one, I feel out of place. It’s an odd feeling to not have a “home” in your own country. Granted we have very welcoming family who bend over backwards to make us feel at home, but we’re still living out of a suitcase for the next 6 weeks. We’d have to go to another continent before we’re truly at home, and that’s a strange feeling since we’re in the place our passports say we belong. Today my grandma told someone, “They’re from China!” As an American, that’s an odd thing to hear. It isn’t just that we don’t have a home in the states, it’s that our life is just so different. We perused the meat counter at Costco yesterday; it seemed strange to think that we used to purchase our meat neatly wrapped in little plastic packages, and now we normally buy it from a vendor on the side of the road. It really feels like our life in China is just a dream. Sometimes conversations turn in directions that just don’t have any connection to my own life right now. School happenings, Christmas pageant practice, what to buy the little ones for Christmas… from the daily routines to the daily groceries, it is all the stuff of the normal American life. But not mine. Finding common ground takes some work right now, so a lot of times I just sit, quietly listening.
I’ve been thinking a lot about where I’ve been. I used to not want all this to be the stuff of my life. Before we moved to China, nothing could have held me back. My enthusiasm for this new adventure was sky-high, and I eagerly anticipated throwing off the encumbrances of my life in America. The mortgage, the car, etc. – it all seemed like it would just hold us back from experiencing a new way of life.
But now, from my vantage point on the other side of the big pond, those things I used to see as encumbrances now seem like they’d be quite comfortable. They’d be reassuring in their relative predictability, and it would be easy (in many ways) to slip back into the structure and cadence of the life all of our peers and family lead. Don’t get me wrong, everyone’s lives are a bit different. And I know they aren’t easy. But we know how it works. We would come home and get jobs. We’d buy our first home, and I’d finally get to decorate a place just how I’d like. We’d probably start a family fairly soon, and then I’d mostly be a mom. We’d work on our nest egg, go on family vacations, and work hard to make sure our children lived well-balanced lives. We’d take the challenges and crises in stride as best as we could, and we’d keep moving forward… The familiarity of that life path is comforting.
But, I’m so torn. The instant I start dreaming about my American Dream, I start realizing what I’d miss in my China Dream. I wouldn’t be able to go cuddle babies in the middle of the day… babies who have no other moms to cuddle them. I wouldn’t be able to experience the unique challenges and character building that comes from life in another culture. I’d lose the tight-knit community I’ve grown to love so much. Jacob and I would undoubtedly not spend as much time together as we do now. My (hypothetical) kids wouldn’t grow up speaking two languages, wouldn’t naturally understand that life for most of the world isn’t like the “Disney Park” version they’d see in America, and probably wouldn’t be as comfortable in cross-cultural situations. Our lives would become more cluttered and complicated. Most likely, I wouldn’t be working on a daily basis on projects that deal with the basic needs of orphans – nutrition, medical care, etc. This is my passion, and I know I could never fully leave it behind. Already their faces are before me wherever I go, and I’ve only been gone a week!
Ugh… this makes no sense. You can probably imagine the chaos that is my brain right now. All I know is that I want it all. I want the comforts of home, and I want my beautiful, crazy, painful, and unpredictable life in China. I want my own children, and I want to be a mother to the ones who wait. I want my own home, that I can decorate just how I want… but I want to do it without thinking of how many heart surgeries my decorating budget would cover, which is probably an impossibility. I want financial independence, but I want to work full-time for a small foster home that can’t pay me. I could go on…
Sometimes when it gets so complicated that my brain grows tired, I want to forget it all… to go back in time 4 years and never step foot in an orphanage for the first time. Then I wouldn’t have to be responsible for this weighty knowledge. But, I do know. And I am responsible for what I know. (And, most days I WANT to be responsible for it. Please don’t think that the only reason I’m in China is out of a sense of guilty obligation.) But, I admit I’m sometimes jealous of people around me who don’t seem to know the pain and brokenness I’ve seen. It seems like life would be so much simpler.
Isn’t the grass always greener on the other side? Before I wanted China. Sometimes I now want America. But now I know enough to know that I don’t really know what I want.
A few editorial notes… These are just my thoughts. I’m not speaking for Jacob too. Obviously decisions about whether we stay or go will be made by both of us. Secondly, if you are a member of my family and are immediately alarmed by this post, please don’t worry. I’m OK. Writing is cathartic for me, and I know we have many friends who pray for us after reading the blog.