(Welcome to the 5th in our series: A Monday Morning Guest Post in Multicultural Mothering. You can find Kalley’s cullinary adventures at http://www.ianandkalley.com/kalleycuisine/)
Kalley: I grew up on a cattle ranch near Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I couldn’t wait to leave my small home town after graduating from high school and attended university outside of Los Angeles. That transition was perhaps the biggest change I have experienced to date, and I loved every minute of it. After university I served in the US Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine, meeting my husband in Kyrgyzstan where he was also a volunteer. We both lived in New Mexico on the Navajo nation, and then moved to China. We are currently living in Zurich, Switzerland. While neither of us is fluent in a language other than English, we have both studied a number of languages and hope our daughters will surpass our abilities.
————Far From Home ————–
I have a strong sense of home and it pervades my personality. My father recently moved out of the home he had lived in since he was 2. My mother had lived there her entire married life. My older sister has moved into that same home with her three young children and they will likely live there for the next 20 years. My childhood home was a 45 minute drive from any gas station, grocery store or friend’s house so my sisters and I learned well to find entertainment at home and would stay there for days on end. Thankfully, this home is a beautiful Colorado ranch with all the fresh air and open space a kid could want, but our dedication to this one place has built in me a strong desire for place based traditions and experiences – perhaps to a fault.
My husband and I have chosen to raise our family overseas – moving from place to place as wanted and needed – as international teachers, and this decision invades my thoughts on a weekly, if not daily, basis.
At least once I month I am angry. I am angry because I can’t find a suitable place for my perception of a birthday party. I am angry because our small apartment has a cramped concrete balcony where my 3-year old rides her new bike around in circles. I am angry because my daughters will not experience Friday night high school football games – growing from the young kids who play tag in the dark to the preteens who practice flirting to the teenagers who actually watch the game and cheer for their classmates.
About once every other month I feel guilty. The guilt comes from not being able to support my mom as she goes through a medical crisis (and from hoping that my older sister is strong enough to help our mom on her own). It comes from not seeing my niece grow from an 8-month old who can barely sit up to a walking, talking toddler, and from not meeting my nephew until he is 10 months old.
More often than angry or guilty, I feel sad. I am sad because my dad doesn’t have the chance to wiggle my infant’s kneecaps and fold her ears while marveling at the flexibility of little ones. I am sad because my daughter doesn’t always recognize pictures of her aunts. And I am sad because it feels more appropriate than angry or guilty.
And more frequently than any other negative emotion I am scared. I am scared that without the consistency of place I experienced growing up that my daughters will feel lost, and that, more realistically, they will wander the globe leaving me far from my grandchildren when that day comes.
Fortunately, for as many times as I have negative reactions to being far from home, I also have positive thoughts about the experiences we have. My daughters will know the absolute deliciousness of bitter lemon soda. My oldest calls churches “temples”, and knows to be quiet and respectful inside both. She can count to 10 in three languages. We make the most out of every new friendship and every old visitor. And our home is our family unit, able to feel joy whenever and wherever we are together.
Do others have fears similar to mine? Do you also find they are balanced with positive experiences? Where and what do you seek on the days when the scales tip toward negative?
3 thoughts on “Far From Home: A Guest Post by Kalley Hoke”
I would love to share the world with my kids. My daughter has big plans for our future travels, and I can’t wait to join her. We’ve always lived here, in this house close to family, but just as you feel angry and frustrated by the limitations put upon you by so much travel – I feel angry and frustrated that I can’t give my kids more of the world, right now. Sometimes I wonder if, wherever you are, however much you move, mothering is one-part worrying that we’re not giving our kids enough of the tangibles or intangibles they need.
Thanks for your touching, thought provoking post. I love how D calls churches temples!
The scales used to tip towards negative much more until I made a concerted effort to keep in touch with my family, and the people I met in different places, became close to, and now love. They are what I take with me when I move from place to place. I Skype with my family, send emails and call friends, even I don’t hear back! The major change happened after L and R were born and back from the hospital. That’s when I needed outlets, and support. So I started to share their photos on a private website. As I grew more confident, less afraid of being “out there,” I started this blog. So far, it’s really done me good.
Another thing is I don’t really consider anywhere other than my living space with with M, L and R “home”. Similar to what you said in your post. I hope that feeling passes on to my children and gives them confidence and a place to come from. I certainly miss the people I love, but I am slowly getting into the internet world, which makes us all closer. Hence I am very happy to have all of you mum friends of mine guest post….It’s my way of keeping you more present in my life, and creating a little group who can support each another, when we can’t just come over for tea or dinner.
Our parents were expats, we are expats, so one might think that we are used to being far from home..but the truth is that when family bonds are strong, you never get used to the distance and I have exactly the same feelings you do, even if we have many “homes” in France, UK, Greece, Italy and Spain, the feeling that our daughter will grow up miles away from everything we have loved is filling us with questions, doubts and yes… sadness..
Over the years I have found a few ways to deal with it and turn negative feelings into positive:
– We took objects from our homes in Europe, placed them in our house in China, so when we go back, we don’t feel like we left everything behind.
– I tied around my wrist little bracelets we exchanged with my sisters and cousins and whenever I feel blue, looking at them makes me feel like a little part of them is always with me.
– We created a private blog with my best friend who moved to Argentina when we moved to China and we have to write, post a picture or a video every week. This is our way of keeping in touch by sharing those “little” things that we usually forget to talk about when we meet again. It makes us feel like we are sharing details of our daily lives and brings us a bit closer.
These little things don’t stop me from feeling guilty, sad and sometimes alone, but they surely cheer me up when those feelings are overwhelming!