For the first part of this series click here to read.
Living overseas can be adventurous and exciting. It can also be lonely and hard – even if you have a family. I’ve had my seasons of it all – or at least I think I should have by now, but I’m sure as seasons come and go they will each return at various times in my life.
One season that seems to return quite frequently is the Season of Feout (pronounced fe-out, combo of fear and doubt). This one pops up when I mention things or people from the US and my kids look at me with a blank stare. It also pops up in the fall when many Facebook friends start posting pics of their children at the pumpkin farms, hayrides they’ve taken, or tree leaves in their brilliant autumn colors. These I mentally add to my “list” of all the things I’m failing at with my kids because I have them here and not there. Here where there are no pumpkin patches, where the leaves don’t change colors, and hayrides? HA, we live in a mega-city. Here where they can’t get to know their grandparents, nor their cousins. Here where they constantly have to say good-bye to great friends who move. Here where “here” may be a new location in a year.
Do you relate to these “feout” questions I have sometimes? My mind can really get out of control with all the emotions swirling around.
I sometimes struggle – not always, just sometimes. It is during those times though that I want to “make-it-up” to my kids. I want to make up for all the losses they have because of the decision I made years ago – way before Uwe came into the picture – to live overseas. When we go to the US (or Germany) I want to take them to all the “fun” places – so they don’t miss out. I want to take them to baseball games, to amusement parks, to zoos, to farms/ranches, to fairs – whatever I can find. I sometimes want to make sure they “experience” the culture, not just hear about it through stories of my past.
Maybe you’ve not had these feelings above, but maybe you felt your children “deserved” something for all the loss in their lives. You know that the transitions are difficult, so you buy all the kids a smartphone so that they can “keep in touch” with their friends better. Or you think everyone deserves an iPad mini because let’s face it, it sure would make travel easier on the plane if everyone had their own. Or maybe you feel just the opposite. You feel as if you can’t give your children anything too nice because you work for a relief organization or are a missionary – and it just wouldn’t look good to those who support your work.
Either way, it’s all an excuse.
An excuse to do, buy, or not to buy for our kids (and let’s face for ourselves, too). Fact is that transitions are hard. Fact is my kids are going to miss out on some of my cultural activities. Fact is our kids are going to be fine. Yes, they will be fine if I take them to every fun thing I can find, or if we just play in the grandparents’ backyards. They will be fine if I buy them all an iPad mini or (more likely) not buy any. Point is, they will be fine. I shouldn’t, and neither should you, fall into that trap that we should “make-it-up” to our kids for living overseas. If you want to buy them an iWhatever, then do it. If you don’t have the money, don’t feel guilty. If you want to “experience” a cultural event like a baseball game with your child, then go. I really believe that our kids will remember the time we spent with them more than the actual event or gadget we buy them.
How do I know that our kids are going to be fine? I’m married to a TCK, have TCKs for friends, and have watched countless TCKs grow up. They all survived the experience – and most would say they are glad they grew up the way they did. That’s how I know my kids are going to be fine. This is how I get through those Seasons of Feout – I remind myself of other TCKs that were taken on this path. I don’t have to go far to be reminded – I just have look across the dinner table.
Your Turn: Have you ever had a “Season of Feout”? If so, how did you get through it? Please share in the comments below.
*Note: As far as I know “Feout” is my made up word from “fear” and “doubt”, but if it should be a word in another language please forgive me.
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