This post has been sitting on my computer for two weeks. It has been ready to go, but I just have not gotten it posted for several reasons:
1. Our modem crashed and we were without internet for ten or so days. I was so thankful when the man from AT&T finally showed up on my doorstep yesterday.
2. We went on vacation.
3. Isaac broke his arm, and had to have surgery.
Needless to say this took a while to get up. I am finally ready to dive back in to blogging and catching up on my 365 blog. Lets hope nothing else happens.
So here is the post that I intended to share almost 2 weeks ago.
written on March 25, 2011
I have been thinking a lot lately. I’ve had several occasions in the last few weeks that have made me pause and think about who I am, and what makes me….. me.
I think too much sometimes. Often times when I am talking to Jonathan about what I have been thinking about I have an “ah-ha” moment.
The other night, we were talking about our life and how the road we’ve traveled has not always been easy. It has not…. believe me.
Those 2 years in the Caribbean were amongst our hardest, but I would never ever trade them. As we were talking about those days, I teased him that there should be a lot less complaining here in the States. Times were hard on the island of Saba. I basically washed laundry in a stream by banging them against rocks. Well… not that bad, but laundry was not easy. Most everything we had to do over there took more effort than it did here.
I remember the day our microwave broke down, and I had to wait until I found the fix-it man walking along the side the road. I flagged him down and asked him to come and fix my microwave. There were no stores to go out and buy a new one. There was not a warranty to call upon. You had to wait until Hodge came from the neighboring island of St. Eustatius to fix things, and hope that you just happened to pass him on the street.
I’m sure Hodge’s family missed him when he was away, but he had mouths to feed. This was how he provided for them. I was always thankful to see Hodge. It was comforting to know he was around just in case you needed his help.
Along with waiting several days or weeks for your appliances to be fixed, there were times when you had no gas to use your oven. Gas came in tall propane canisters like what you use for grilling outdoors. We had a large canister that would sit outside and was hooked up to our stove and oven. If you ran out of propane, it could take a few weeks before you were delivered a new one. It was never fun when you were in the middle of making Thanksgiving dinner and your propane ran out.
I guess what I am saying is I think we forget just how good we actually have it…. until we realize that each culture has different trials. I was privileged to live and grow in another culture. When I say grow what I mean to say is grow-up.
You see when I was discussing those days with Jonathan, I realized that there was a moment in the Caribbean that defined me. There was a moment that made me who I am today. I can never trade it. I would never want to. That moment taught me something. It is something that I will never forget.
You see when we moved to the small island of Saba, I was 6 months pregnant. I was beginning to be miserably pregnant. After I saw what our new house looked like, I was even more miserable. After I had my first lesson in laundry, I literally cried myself to sleep. The first time I woke up to several cockroaches on the floor, I wanted to go back to sleep and never wake up. And then I was expected to drive on these narrow crazy roads and learn to drive a stick shift on some of the steepest hills I have ever seen. I knew I had to learn. If I didn’t, I would be stuck at home doing laundry with my lizard friends.
Each day the tasks set before me seemed daunting. The shopping alone was enough to kill me. Each time I went to the market, I had to push little 18 month old Jex up the steepest hill you can imagine… just to get home. I would push him in our double jogging stroller. The second seat next to Jex was meant for the new little one I was carrying in my tummy. For now, while little Stella took a ride in my belly, our groceries would go for a ride in her seat.
In the nine weeks that I was there before Stella was born, I didn’t gain a pound. I was getting in shape walking all those hills, and pushing double strollers. After nine long weeks, I couldn’t wait to go back to the States. I was headed back to Utah to have our baby girl. I was leaving Jonathan there. I was sad that he had to stay, but so relieved to not have to deal with the horrible tasks and unfamiliar life I had been living the last nine weeks.
Stella was due to be born during Jonathan’s semester break, and he would join me and Jex then. Everything would be wonderful. I would have 4 months in the states to prepare, give birth, and recover from having a baby. Jonathan would be there when Stella was born, we would share a few weeks together, and then he would go back to begin another semester of school. Jex, Stella and I would join him soon after.
I wasn’t too sad to leave him. I was so selfish in all my thoughts. I thought all would be well, as long as I was off this island. All I could think about was getting off the island. Jonathan’s face when I took off on the airplane was a painful reminder that all wouldn’t be well. He wasn’t being selfish, he was thinking about us, and how much he would miss us. He worried that Stella would come before he could arrive. He was afraid that Jex would forget about him. I thought of none of those things. I thought only about going home. We were both scared, but my thoughts of just getting back to the States overtook all the other worries I really should have been having.
I remember when my parents picked me up from the airport. I went on and on about how dreadful and hard it is to live in the Caribbean. Can you even imagine saying that? “It is hard to live on an island in the Caribbean?” It did however, just take some adjusting. Looking back, I realize how immature I was. My parents needed comfort that I was happy, and able to handle all that our life would endure over the next two years, but I was not comforting them at all.
I soon realized that I was wrong. It was not easy…. being apart was terrible. Yes, there were no cockroaches and I could put my laundry in a real washer and dryer, but I was missing my other half. We spent many nights talking and crying over the phone. Then, Stella came much too early and Jonathan was not home yet.
How did this happen? It wasn’t time! She was healthy and beautiful, but we had to rejoice together over the telephone. Jonathan came for a 2 week visit when Stella was one week old. He saw her for the first time in an airport terminal.
After his visit, we said our goodbyes for another six weeks when afterward I would join him back on that dreadful island. Yes, even though I missed him dearly I was not looking forward to moving back there.
However, I did it. I went back, and when I did I thought everything would be so great between Jonathan and I. Yes, we still loved each other very much, but there was this distance. We had to bridge the distance somehow. There were four months of our life that we had not shared. The birth of our beautiful baby girl happened thousands of miles apart.
After a lot of soul searching, I had my moment. The moment that defined me. The moment that helped me grow-up. I realized that it didn’t matter how hard things were on the island. What mattered was that I was doing them my husband and children. I realized that life was good when we were together, and it was hard when we were apart. I COULD DO ANYTHING, IF WE DID IT TOGETHER. Even bang rocks together to clean my laundry, and I was going to do it without complaining. I was going to look for the good in every situation. I would enjoy my journey. Do you know what happened?
I grew to absolutely LOVE that island. Jonathan and I cried and cried in the backseat of the tiny 19 seat airplane the day we had to leave…. because we didn’t want to go. Our life was so simple, yet so full. We grew in ways that I could have never imagined. Our marriage became so strong as we learned to rely only on one another. I learned to find the good in everything, including the four months we spent apart. It was hard, but I have lots of good things to say about it. For instance…. my relationship with my mother grew as I had to rely on her so much. After a very difficult birth, Stella was born healthy but probably would not have been had I stayed on Saba to give birth. Had she waited to come on her due date when her daddy would have been there, she may not have made it. I tried to learn something from every situation we faced while living outside the U.S.A.
Finding the good in situations has since become habitual. I do it without even realizing it at times. I still ask myself, “What can I learn from this?”
I am so glad I let that moment define me. I am so grateful that I learned something from such a trying situation. I am happy that Jonathan and I pulled together and made our marriage and family what it is today by defining those moments that seemed so hard over six years ago.
When you think back on your life, I am sure you find moments in your life that helped to shape you. I have four other moments that easily come to mind….
Use those moments. Be who you are supposed to be. Don’t let any one change what those moments have given you, no matter how hard or trying the lesson was.
My BFF recently read me a quote that went something like this:
“It is better to be the best first-rate version of yourself, than a second-rate version of someone else.”
That is what is on my mind these days.