Monday, 28 August 2017

Regaining focus and balance

This month on Velvet Ashes it is all about welcoming new cross cultural workers, in particular last week was focused on  Welcome to Ministry Life. I'm a bit late to post, but here are my thoughts on this at the moment:


None of the events by themselves were big, so I didn’t notice at the time.  We do have a couple of big stresses happening in the background at the moment, so I guess a few small ones didn’t really register with me.

As my kids get older I'm enjoying being able to ride my bike again. 
I don’t even remember when it happened, but one night my kindle screen stopped responding to touch. I didn’t really think to do anything about it, or that it was a big deal. I think I just stopped reading before bed.

Quietly the water in the taps dwindled and then disappeared altogether. The next two weeks were filled with washing outside, carrying water inside, waiting for people to come to fix the water pump, occasionally having water inside until the tank emptied again, rejoicing that it was fixed finally, but then twice it broke down again (for different reasons each time).  Considering I spend most of my day looking after snotty, muddy, partly toilet trained,  sweaty kids, including cooking and cleaning up after the huge mess of eating- water is quite important!  It was an annoying fortnight, but then it was over.

During the tail end of the water pump debacle, one of our kids had a bit of a temperature. I think it lasted about a week, but unlike other times it wasn’t constantly high. So I didn’t really think of it as a stressful event, it was like we barely noticed it (compared to those other times when we are on the look out for other symptoms and wondering if its going to be something exotic such as dengue fever). Then the other child became feverish as well, also not constantly high, but spread over a week or so. There was one night when he vomited a few times, but thankfully our water pump was well and truly back in action by then. So it didn’t seem such a big deal.

And there was another scorpion inside, thankfully they only seem to feel comfortable making themselves at home when Husband/Daddy the Scorpion Slayer is around. I’ve yet to have to deal with one myself. Our preschooler now knows what to call them, not “lobster” or “crab” as they have been mistakenly identified as before.  A lot less fanfare accompanied this  4th scorpion, compared to the first one we found inside, so it felt like a bit of a non-event.

And then there was the evening we lost a backpack, and the day I realised some old, good friends had not been on our newsletter list for a few years and none of us noticed.



Most of this was happening in July, I was kind of glad at the time. I had more free time to deal with it all. My Bible study group didn’t have its normal weekly meetings on, and friends I meet for almost weekly playdates were also all out of town for The Summer. Less obligations – I thought that would make life easier.

I was finding I was struggling each day, feeling stressed and bored.   I didn’t feel like I was doing a good job of looking after our kids.  I was starting to think maybe we should reorganise things. I could be doing more fun and fulfilling things than this.  Looking after young kids each day has always been a bit mundane, but it was getting to the point of too much (made even more daunting by the fact that we are looking into home based education).  I could probably hire people to do most of what I do, so I could be free to do other things.

However now that Bible study is on again, and my friends are back I have a different perspective.

After talking with a group of Christian expat women I stopped to think about our overall purpose and focus and realized I do actually want to do what I’m doing now. Soeun and I have tried other configurations of time and activities, and I have done other things before the kids were born, and may do different things as they get older.  But I think for these years I’m happy if we can plan it so I don’t have any other big commitments, even if it gets mundane at times!

When I'm not too tired and grumpy I actually really like that I get to see my toddler learning to speak in sentences, and see my preschooler improve his egg cracking skills. And if it means my Cambodian Bible teaching husband is free to do his thing it is defiantly how I want to be spending my time. Plus it brings me in contact with the other leaders wives who are also looking after their kids, and praying for them is possibly even more useful than any Bible or English class I could teach. It just doesn't sound as glamorous or  productive in our newsletters, and is usually not as fun and fulfilling.

And home based schooling sounds a whole lot better than what seems to have been the done thing 30 or 40 years ago. Boarding schools seemed to have been the norm for missionaries back then, even for really young kids.

Now looking back on July I can see lots of the things that I enjoy, that are restful and recharging were absent so that tipped the balance a bit. Not seeing friends, not reading books. And the balance was further disturbed with extra stresses added in- the water pump and sick kids meant we had less time to sleep, rest, cook properly and eat.  The good things were taken off one end of the scale, and some bad things added to the other side.

But now it’s almost the end of August and it feels like I have focus back and balancing is in progress, yay!

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