A Divided Life

The concept of home has certainly evolved for me over the years.  There was a time that home was wherever we set up our Christmas tree.  Then it became the room where I hung up my photos and had a key to the front door.  Now, home is where my baby girl sleeps and my husband makes repairs.  But in this life abroad, there is a strange feeling of division between this home and our home country.  We have made friends here and have created habits of life, and are trying to immerse ourselves.  But despite all this, so much of my life remains active in the U.S.  Technology enables daily connection and messages with friends and family.  Rayna’s relationships with her relatives are nourished frequently through video chat, and I’ll admit to letting Oma digitally babysit a time or two (so that I could cook, not go get a manicure;).  Today, I poured myself a coffee and snuggled under a blanket for a long talk with a dear friend, just as I would have if we were in the same town.  And with the current drama in U.S. politics, Jeff and I may be more conscientious than ever about our country.

As a limited human being, this attention and time I spend on life in the U.S. means I have less room for Chile.  I don’t have an understanding of the politics or the important issues the country is facing.  Sure, this weekend when our part of the city flooded, I got a little bit of an education regarding the water systems in the city and was reminded how fortunate we are to live in a well-located building (we didn’t lose access to running water, while other citizens waited more than 24 hours for water that was safe to drink).  But unless I’m looking for information, I can often avoid certain realities of this country.  I don’t know much about the communities experiencing poverty on the other side of the city.  I have very limited understanding of the social systems and how much access Chileans have to government services.  And though we have been here around eight months, I am nowhere near mastering Spanish.

This feels very uncomfortable to me.  Not only do I feel disconnected from my community, but it makes me seriously question what I’m doing here.  What exactly am I doing here again???!?

That’s where I have to stop myself.  I have to stop trying to have all the answers and stop feeling guilty about my slow progress with Spanish.  I have to accept the complicated feelings of living a divided life and let go of the illusion that I should have everything in order.  I will never have everything in order, no matter what country I live in.  I will always struggle to balance my friendships and wish I had more time with loved ones, no matter what continent I find myself on.  My daughter’s silliness and my husband’s hugs will nourish me no matter how spastic I get.  God’s love and blessings will be with me, even when He feels far away.

In light of all that, I’ll choose to really see each day as a gift.  Sometimes it’s a gift wrapped in stars and stripes; other days it has a more exotic feel.  But I don’t want to take these days for granted or waste a single one.  So whether it takes chocolate milk in your coffee, singing along to “Walking on Sunshine”, or biking to that far-away bakery for a cookie and manjar fix (yes, this is how I spent my week), let’s make it a good one.  Love!!!


2 thoughts on “A Divided Life

  1. You hit the nail on the head. Grace all around, every day. There’s expat life. There’s mom life. Then there is The Great Humbling: expat mom life. Slow and steady, my love. You are doing a good job. You aren’t a single backpacker that works for and NGO, so the transition can’t be fast or easy. It will probably never be complete. You have, as you so astutely articulated, a divided life. And so shall it be. 6 years in and I am still there. It ebbs and flows day to day, week to week, month to month. But the blessings are sometimes wilder too. I love you so much and am grateful for what you wrote.

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