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When the kids aren’t on board

I cried in class again yesterday.  Two minutes into class, actually.  With the teacher I only have every couple months and hadn’t seen in a long time.

Cambria told me the other night that she doesn’t want to live in Japan.  She’s told me this before, but the way she continued her thought that night really, really struck me.

“I didn’t want to come to Japan.  I wanted to stay in Florida and New Hampshire.”

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The change in perspective is what did me in.  When she says she doesn’t want to live in Japan, I think, life is about being places we don’t want to be sometimes.  When transferred her voice to the past, I hear, “You made a life-changing decision for me that I didn’t want.”

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To be fair, she was three when we moved here (the second time), lacking much comprehension of the implications of the move and capacity to express her opinion.  I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill.  I’m certain this won’t be the last time that we, as parents, make a decision in the best interest of the family that isn’t unanimously accepted.

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But even more so, I don’t want to ever cause Cambria to feel that her feelings mean nothing.  I’m not necessarily saying that we ought to move back to the States.  I am necessarily saying that our kids need their voices to be heard and considered with respect and weight.  I am necessarily saying that we need to be willing to sacrifice other things in order to not sacrifice our children, if our listening to and respectfully considering their voices tells us that sacrificing them is what will happen otherwise.

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I know (secondhand and personally) too many missionaries’/preachers’/ministers’ children who were sacrificed for The Cause.  I can’t imagine the heartbreak on all sides of that regret.  I am so blessed by the families who have shared their personal pains with me in encouragement for our generation to change this epidemic.  I’m blessed to have a teacher who radiates love for his family in such a way that you can’t help but realize what an invested father he is (rare in America, unheard of in Japan), whose four children exemplify his success in such.

What are your priorities?  What do you need to give up to achieve success in them?

Categories: Christianity, home, homesickness, kids, missions, mothering

5 comments

  • Sarah

    Great question to linger on. I pray that you would have the words to support and encourage Cambria as she struggles. You guys are great parents.

    • Sara

      Sarah, I always appreciate your comments, on here and on Facebook. You’re one of the few families we know who have been in our situation (that is, living in Japan, not on base, not married to a Japanese person), and I so treasure knowing that you know exactly where I find myself. I’m so blessed that God brought us together.

  • Olivia

    Sara,

    I have been meaning to comment on this since you first posted. I can totally identify with this — less because of the missionary lifestyle, but because of the parallels to the military lifestyle and the eldercare process. I can’t begin to describe the tremendous guilt and sadness I have felt at various times over the last couple of years because of the effects of our choices on the boys. Bitty’s wailing at the dining room window when I drove away to San Antonio for a month of duty — with a deployed daddy and someone he’d never met as a caregiver — still rings in my ears and tugs at my soul. But as hard as that was for me to watch as a mother, he doesn’t even remember it.

    Something you wrote struck me, “I’m certain this won’t be the last time that we, as parents, make a decision in the best interest of the family that isn’t unanimously accepted.” Sometimes our decisions aren’t even in the “best interest of the family” in the immediate sense. Sometimes its a choice to sacrifice what’s best for our little family unit for someone else’s benefit, and that can be okay too. It’s the example of selflessness you’re teaching them — the same one you were taught.

    You know I’m not great at this myself, but for what it’s worth: Maybe the key is to find the balance.

    When we were at pivotal moment in end-of-life care last year of deciding whether to keep Momma home for the last few days of life or to take an apartment at the assisted living facility down the road, I was so deeply conflicted. All I could think about was that I was supposed to be willing to do it all for her to the very end.

    What changed my mind was the advice of a dear sister in Christ. When she heard my dilemma, she pulled me aside and told me her story. She said her mother had done the same for her grandmother when she was a child, and instead of the memories of having her grandmother near, she remembered only the hard (gross) parts of taking care of a dying loved one, as well as her mother’s exhaustion. Other people’s advice had focused on me needing to take care of myself, but her comments had so much more impact, because they pulled me out of the emotional fog of “what I could handle” and “what I owed my mother.” Once she explained to me that this one decision might undo all the good of having my mother near my children over the previous year, (my words, not hers), the choice was clear. I did NOT want my children to experience bed pans and turning her earthly body and having her pass in the house. Though the driving back-and-forth was a little harder on me, it was the right moment to draw the line and put the kids first.

    I know it’s an extreme example, and I hope I haven’t shared too much, but I want you to know you’re doing okay. The girls will grow so much from this experience, and some day they will be able to put it in perspective. They may not appreciate every aspect of it, but they will see that it was a wonderful and unique opportunity on so many levels…and then they’ll have a chance to agonize over the same types of decisions for their children and appreciate you all the more. :)

    Children are strong. I know everyone says that, but seriously, my children blow me away with their strength when the chips are down. They’re rock-solid. Constant. Comforting.

    Hang tough. You are good, godly parents. Have faith that when you begin to lose your balance, God will lovingly place some sister or brother in your path too, and you’ll know when to draw the line and put the kids first. We’ll be praying for all of you.

    With love,

    Olivia

    • Sara

      Olivia, I only just saw your comment when I was writing my latest post. I really, REALLY appreciate your sharing such a deep experience. I’m going to reflect on it apply it as a lifelong reminder. I say it too often and do it not often enough, but I really need to talk to you more. I crave what you offer as a friend. This comment means so much to me, thank you for taking the time to write, and I really am sorry that I didn’t see it earlier. Hugs to you all.

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