Who are they supposed to turn to? Who is supposed to guidethem, direct them, comfort them, lead them? Who? Their grandparents? Theirfriends at school? Their teachers? Who? Who in the world is supposed to takecare of my children’s emotional needs when Kobi and I are falling apart? Well, we are… and we’re not there for them.They’re fightingand falling over each other. They’re lost and have no lighthouse to shine theirway.
Being a nomadic family has its very poignant disadvantages.
And why are we not there for them? Because, we’re exhausted.Yet again, we’re in a new town, a new home, a new land of strangers where we haveto make ourselves belong (again), to redefine ourselves (again). And that’s alot energy to exert (again). Imagine the amount of effort it would take if youwere to change jobs every two months. As the new kid in town you would have anenormous amount of work to do: find meaningful work (or volunteerism), make afriend or two, define a new schedule, find out where everything you need islocated, create time for yourself, and get some work done.
We’re entering week two in our new home and still have notestablished enough stability to get around to fitting ourselves into our newlife yet. Kobi and I are drained emotionally and can’t seem to find a minutefor ourselves. We’ve been planning every day, for four days now, to go to theneighboring school to present ourselves as volunteers. Though we tell the kidseach day that “today, we’re going to the school” ,twice we even had our shoeson to go, and once we were actually in the school yard waiting for the principal, it’s has yet to happen.
We want to create a normal routine and schedule, but thereverse died in the car and 2/3 of our kids had awful infected skin abrasionswhich were not getting better. A good deal of this week has been designedaround taking the car to mechanics, and the kids to doctors. Getting aroundwithout the car means more effort on our part (again) to find buses and taxisand move from place to place, also in the rain. Sick kids means finding extraspecial patience to gently take care of their more-delicate selves, in additionto purchasing, and then remembering to administer the medications and thecreams three times a day to the right kid at the right times.
We want to exercise together in the mornings, but they need usat their side as they don’t feel safe being alone, yet. So today, we tried totake them with us, and ended up with three whining, complaining kids the entiretime. And while yelling and screaming at them was temporarily gratifying, itdid not make for a stress-relieving workout, nor a good morning.
We plan to do formal studies with them three times a week.We’re working out of mathematics and Hebrew reading workbooks. Solai juststarted her very first English reading workbook! Last week, we even started making marvelous ABC books. They actually lovelearning, and even when not in the mood, once they see that I’m serious, theyget into the learning groove and progress beautifully. But for the last monthit seems, each week there was something else going on that prevented us fromlearning on a regular basis.
The details and excuses bore me. The bottom line is thatthis is not what I meant for my trip to be like. I know it’s not a vacation,but a way of life. I know that back home, we also had those times when we feltbogged down my so many blah things to take care of and felt totally stuck. Iknow that back home, also, there were those times when I felt I would scream ifone more person asked me for one more thing; if one more kids complained orfought or dropped one more plate of food on the floor. I know, I know. Andwhile it is comforting to know that I’ve been here before; it still feelsawful. It hurts when you feel like you can’t control your time, your life. Ithurts when you feel lost and can’t quite see how it is you are supposed to findyour way out of it. It hurts when you are dying to have a few minutes toconnect to yourself, and day after day, you can’t seem to get that very basicneed met.
So, who is supposed to take care of my kids’ needs?The same two people who are supposed to take care of their needs first. Thesame two people who are supposed to take care of the needs of this family. Thesame two people who are supposed to make clarity and routine in a world of constantmotility and change. And those same folks, both of them, have a lot of thingsto talk about, to work through. And when they do, they will also be able totake care of those three magical children who are so patient with theirparents’ whims and crazy dreams of volunteering around the world.
As every dip in the road has shown, where’s there’s an up, there’s a down. And so this down has led to marvelous discovery and a reclarification of what is important to us.