I hate it when I disappoint myself. Last weekend Chris and Iddy left town for a few days. I wasn’t looking forward to being here with the girls without my guys, but I also wasn’t too worried about it. I’m comfortable enough here after having lived in Malindi for about 10 months. But as it turned out, I’m not quite the supermom I thought I was. My biggest concern was that for 3 days I wouldn’t have anyone else to absorb any of Abby-Jones and Ruth-Michael’s energy, and I was afraid that I would take it all in until my fuse was all gone and I exploded on them. Lately I’m feeling more and more like the mom I never wanted to be: short-tempered, bossy, and just flat out no fun.
Almost every mom I have ever talked to has described the phenomenon in which things go wrong most often when the father is away. As I thought more about this last week I wondered if that is the case, or is it that the same things I can handle well knowing that Chris is there if I need him turn into melt-down issues when I feel alone. Loneliness is an incredibly powerful emotion. I don’t think I have ever encountered it to the extent that I have this past year. Our first eight months here were packed with back-to-back visitors. Since the new year we have had relatively few. Of course the family time has been great for us, but it didn’t take long for that nagging darkness to start seeping in. Right now there is only one other American living full-time in our whole county. We have been able to make a few very precious close friends, but I miss so much the feeling of being a part of a community of people to fall back on.
As I drove around with the girls that first day after Chris and Iddy left I wondered what I would do if something happened and I needed help. I could think of two people I could try to call, but what if neither of them answered? What was my plan B? Sometimes God doesn’t give us a plan B. When God is your plan A, you don’t need a plan B. This is easy to say and incredibly hard to live.
I decided to take the time when Chris was away to reach out to a family that I had been wanting to get to know a little better. Starting a cross-cultural friendship with someone of a different religion, up-bringing, and worldview is actually pretty challenging, and I had forgotten how much Chris helped me navigate these kinds of relationships. After reminding myself of several cultural norms that I have learned a million times but keep forgetting I had a really nice time with this very sweet family. At the end I was pretty exhausted and ready to just be in my home with my family and not have to think about everything I was doing and saying. The rest of the evening consisted of AJ being overly eager to grab her dinner plate, spilling the contents all over herself and the floor, then being sent to time out where she proceeded to pee on the buckets of dog food that I had her sit on, and then the puppy chewed through one of the unopened bags of dog food. For my pride’s sake, I will spare you the details of my reactions to these things. I was pretty down that night and feeling like a crappy mom and dog-owner, but I figured a good night sleep would make it all better. When the dog had me up at 4am needing to go out, then wanting back in, and out, and in, and then I noticed he had pooped in the bedroom, I lost it. I realize nothing about this series of events is anything other than the usual bumps of life, but being awake in the night makes everything seem worse, and not having the person you are used to counting on compounds the frustration. Now I know there are a lot of single moms out there and women with husbands who work all the time, and they are nothing short of super heroes in my book.
This whole experience got me thinking, is God really enough for me? If all I had in this world was God, could I handle my life? Even Adam was lonely when he was by himself on the earth. God knows that we need other people to support us, but at the same time, no other person can ever support us perfectly or entirely. So I find myself searching for the balance between needing and accepting the help offered by others and also resting in the knowledge that God and I are a complete team. I got up the next morning and felt the renewal of God’s mercies that He has promised for me every single morning. I enjoyed the company of my two daughters. I was invited for dinner at my friend’s house and I received encouragement and fellowship that I needed so much. I survived, and we welcomed Iddy and Chris home when they returned. I learned that I can’t rely on one person to sustain me. Me and God are enough. God knows when I need support from others, and He provides it, but He always thinks I am stronger than I think I am. He waits a little longer to send in the rescue than I would like. He is pushing me and growing me. It’s as if he is preparing me for something. I am a woman in training. But what am I training for? Only God knows.