Saturday, May 12, 2012

Being a Missionary Mom

Wanna know about what it is like being a missionary mom?  I get some people, after visiting us here say "Wow!  You life isn't that different from mine!" or they say "I could never do this..."  So, I thought I would let you know what it is really like being a missionary mom.

I am not going to write a complaining blog because my life is amazing.  I just want to outline some of the struggles that I have.  I have no idea what parenting is like in the United States.  I have only really been a parent in a foreign country.  You will have to let me know how our struggles compare.  Many of them will be the same, I imagine.  Some not.  In some ways my life is a lot easier that it would be if I lived in the US.  Some ways, not.  Let me explain.

As a missionary mom, I don't have to clean my house.  Ever.  I do have to pick up messes, wash some dishes, sweep/mop/vacuum on occasion, and I am in a constant battle to keep things put away, but you will never see me dusting, cleaning toilets, cleaning out the fridge or behind the stove.  I have a full time maid who does all of that for me.  She cleans my kitchen after breakfast and lunch, and keeps my house from window smudges and dust bunnies.  So that means I have freedom to do all kinds of things that I wouldn't have time to do if I lived in the states.  Write this blog, for example.  Have time to plan meals, homeschool, Sunday school, research things online.  All things that would be a struggle if I had to spend my time cleaning my 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom, 2 LR house.  Especially since houses in Guatemala get much dirtier than houses in the US.  We have no central heat and air.  That means that our house isn't climate controlled.  Think of a storage unit that isn't climate controlled.  What does it look like after a month...that is what my house would look like!  haha!  We basically live in a large, nicely decorated storage unit!  :)

As a missionary mom, I get a ton of fresh, inexpensive vegetables to feed my family, and I have my wonderful maid, Gladys, wash/bleach/rinse/chop them for me most days...all the hard things.  I just get to cook them and eat them.  We get like 2 dozen carrots, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, 3 bell peppers, 3 cucumbers, 3lbs of potatoes, 5-7 lbs of tomatoes, zucchini, celery, 3lbs of onion, broccoli,  mango, watermelon, melon, pineapple, and more each week for about $10.  Crazy, right?  The reason we don't buy more vegetables is because we don't have room in our fridge!!

As a missionary mom, I don't get much of a break.  Babysitters are hard to come by, and grandparents even harder.  We do have Gladys who watches the children on occasion if I need to run quick errands, and once a month or so she stays late so Brandon and I can go to a matinee movie.  There is no mother's day out, babysitting trading, or MOPS groups. There are very few dinners out with Brandon because it's not safe to be out too much at night.  If I go to the women's meeting at our church (which I never do) I have to find someone to watch the childcare there.  If Brandon and I want a night away at a hotel or something...well...we have to go back to the states so Grammy or Mimi can watch them.

As a missionary mom, I have very few girlfriends in my town.  3 to be exact.  I've 2 other dear friends, but one lives a town away and the other about 2.5 hrs away.  This just makes coffee dates and play dates somewhat rare.  I am working on getting a better relationship with a couple of Guatemalan women, but they both work full time so that makes spending time with them when I have time difficult.  And there are still cultural barriers that make heart communication more challenging.  

As a missionary mom, errands take hours instead of minutes.  Trying to go get cash, pay the cable/internet bill (have to go to the cable company to pay), pay rent and the electric bill (must pay at the bank), and grocery shop takes 2 -3 hours depending on wait times at the bank and if I can find a parking space.  None of that can be done online or by mail.  Taking the children makes that take longer as I'm sure you can imagine.

As a missionary mom, I have to live without Target...enough said.  :)

As a missionary mom (this happened to me this week), Brandon had to make a trip into Guatemala city to go by immigration, go by a friend's school to get some papers, and run our friend Brynne back after spending almost a week with us.  He ended up having to spend the night and all of a sudden I was alone for the evening, night, and following morning.  Not really a problem normally, but I was so tired I almost couldn't stand up, had been going, going, going all day, and was hormonal on top of that.  My poor children!  haha!  I whined at Brandon and complained when he told me and got jealous that he got to go with a friend to go see a movie in English!  Then sat on the kitchen floor and cried.  haha!  I'm such a jerk!

As a missionary mom, I can't take my kids on regular walks, there aren't really parks to take the kids to, or sidewalks to speak of for a stroller ride...even regular trips to go get a chocolate covered frozen banana have to be done with no discernible pattern of leaving and coming.  I have to be very diligent and always keep an eye out for security threats, and although we are relatively safe, this is tiring.  Not ever really able to relax when I'm alone out of the house even more so when I'm with my kids.

As a missionary mom, I don't have much of a support system in this whole mom thing.  It is hard, and lonely at times.  Not probably any harder than any mom's job, and in some ways, much easier, but hard nonetheless.

As a missionary mom, I get to demonstrate to my kids daily that we are foreigners in the world...that this is not our home...that we are awaiting the return of our King,  I get to show my kids almost daily how to feed the poor, take care of the fatherless. My kids get to be the minority group and get stared at.  They get to learn Spanish and have friends that don't look like them or have as many toys or even a bedroom separate from their parents.  They get to feel a little dislocated from any culture.   This is amazing, but it brings with a separate set of parenting difficulties.  

I don't have space in this blog to cover all of the benefits for my children living in another culture.  I haven't talked about the enormous blessing it is to live in such a beautiful country, to be a very small part of what the Lord is doing here, or how I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Let me know how your struggles are different!  Let me hear from you! I'd love to compare notes and maybe we can encourage each other.


Brynne said...

Oh, Jenny! If I had known you were sitting on the kitchen floor crying, I would have chicken bussed it back over to your house and brought you some Reeses. Hope you've rested since them and spent some good time with your husband. Miss you, friend!

Brandon and Jenny said...

Ha-Ha! It wasn't a long was just a feel sorry for myself cry. Really shouldn't be doing that anyway. :) Miss you, too!

Schweers' Mom said...

Wow...I had no idea. My hat's off to you for all you do. It may be nice to have a maid who does all that cleaning and getting fresh fruit and veggies so cheap, but I don't think I would be very good at the rest of it. I need to remember to pray for you more. Big hugs!