Confession time: I’m hopped up on the bean right now. Ever heard that phrase used in your local Starbucks? Probably not. It means hyper-caffeinated after drinking one too many cups of coffee in the morning. I invite you to check out the Urban Dictionary and tell me you don’t come away having pee’d your pants. So funny!
I can thank Drew for introducing me to the hilarious wonder that is the Urban Dictionary. Drew is my editor for this series of honest posts. (Honest posts…it sounds like I’m going to go back to being dishonest once I’ve got it all off my chest).
I love having Drew as my editor. A linguist, who better than someone who has studied the science of languages? He may let minor spelling errors slip through but you better believe he cracks down on punctuation and smileys. He is also my filter. I can trust anything he allows to go public on this website, but I also like to test him for fun. So if you see the phrase ‘hopped up on the bean’ appear later, you know he loves me.
So I’ve been wondering if anyone has thought over the past few days, why blog about this Emily? Why not just jot it all down in your journal?
About a month ago, maybe longer, we received our first shipment. I will spare you the details of it’s agonizing trek over land and sea to get here, but nonetheless it eventually arrived. In amongst the bottles of mosquito spray and every type of plaster (band-aid) under the sun, was two special items close to my heart. A Yankee Candle and a journal.
You guessed it, my MIL (who I’m convinced is making up for years of having 3 sons and no daughters), sent me those two gems. She knew I needed a place to get it all out. I wonder if it’s because she knows I’m an obsessive compulsive sharer, to those who show an interest. Some people are private and some people are sharers. Some people are introvert and energise in the peace and quiet of their own breathing. Some get hopped up on the bean and energised surrounded by the chitter chatter of anyone willing to give an opinion, spark a debate or share some advice. I’m the latter. If you are willing to talk and to listen, I am your new best friend. Give me a little accepting nod and an interested smile and we could talk for a long while. Because if there is something I do know about myself it’s that I can carry on a conversation for a long time. I’m in the analyzing and hashing out business, if you can’t tell. I’ve just suddenly found myself in this extreme change of lifestyle and I’m trying to make sense of it all.
A few people have gotten in touch with me since I started writing this series of posts. One beautiful friend…before even knowing the topic of this post summed it right up for me. She said,
“I have to admit it has answered so many questions I didn’t even know I had for you already.”
She hit the nail on the head, because I go over and over in my mind…why didn’t I prepare myself better for this transition?
To say it bluntly, I’m putting all this out there because I wish I’d been more prepared. This transition was planned, it wasn’t a shock, it wasn’t sudden. It was going to happen. I had plenty of time to get my ship-ment together. But the way I feel……well it’s just a shame I hadn’t been introduced to my very worst missionary friend sooner.
In fairness to myself, I did what I thought was wise. I got in touch with another young mum on the mission field–ok, someone I’d never met before, but still someone I could ask questions. And boy did I bombard her with question. Dumb ones like “should I bring Wellies for the rainy season” to “what can you tell me about the availability of birth control out there.” TMI?? Yea possibly. But I had packed 13 humongous duffle bags of everything I thought I’d need for our 3 year old and her 15 month old baby brother. That took some preparing! Some strategical planning. Don’t think I didn’t give it my materialistic best shot. However, for all the tea in China I couldn’t have been prepared in my situation.
I do have regrets. I regret not taking a visit first. The best thing we did when moving further north was taking a week-long visit first. It made a huge difference and that was after we had already lived in country about 5 months, so the cultural difference wasn’t so harsh. Why didn’t we think investing in a visit way back when, for us…me, was a sensible idea?
The idea of being unprepared in this situation takes me back to the first week after giving birth to Poppy. That week! I swear at one point I looked around the empty room while nursing and said the very same words “why the heck didn’t anyone warn me it was gonna be like this?” HA! And that was coming from a nurse who went through the mother and baby semester at nursing school while also in her 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy! You think you’ve read enough books, talked to enough experienced people, or you think it will just come naturally to you. You think you have had so much time leading up to ‘lift off’ that surely after 9 months…after roughly 10 years you’d be prepared. In any case, that’s what I’d been thinking.
I straight up asked someone once.
Really, why didn’t you tell me having a baby was going to be like this?
In my foggy state of new motherhood I must have forgotten her exact words but I’m sure it was along the lines of…sometimes words fail to form an accurate explanation. Ha! We can certainly find the words when we eagerly tell people how magical having a baby is, what an adventure, how the time flies by. Maybe if we want to be daring enough we’d joke about getting the sleep in now because when baby comes there won’t be any sleeping. I’m going off on a tangent I see that. But I didn’t suffer with post-natal depression, I wouldn’t even say I had the baby blues. I just suffered from baby shock for about 2 weeks. Mothers-to-be, if you want the other side of having a baby, I will write on request.
Missionary life is exciting, it is an adventure. But I’m gonna stick my neck out and say I wasn’t prepared for the reality! I was high as a kite on the thought of adventure!
Before one has entered in to a new life one has no idea what questions to even ask. I may be the only one, but I like to be prepared…emotionally prepared above all. Because if there is a second thing I know about myself it’s that I let my emotions do all the talking. In this relationship my emotions wear the trousers. Knowing that I like to have a grip on them. Sleep is one way I do that. And having no fan = no sleep…lol
So, all that to say, I know several people getting ready to come out here in the next few months; people also coming directly from France as we did. And I’m laughing to myself because I hope I’m not freaking them out right now.
Friends, fellow missionaries, I don’t know how you will respond when you get here, but I’m guessing you know plenty of people who flourished the moment their feet hit the muddy roads and took to this life like a duck to water. I’m just saying, you now also know someone who struggled from the get-go, who aside from her obvious calling and willingness and excitement for adventure she found it incredibly tough. Here are her experiences and thoughts, and if you feel these too, she’s right here with you and it’s ok. Hashing this stuff out is ok.
Here are a few of practical things I want to leave you with.
- Don’t bring white sheets, in fact don’t bring sheets in any light colour. Get friendly with navy blue, fuchsia pink for girls and John Deere green for boys.
- Ants. Teeny weeny ants that descend like armies from every crack and corner of your kitchen. You’ll try and stop them…a sprinkle of cinnamon here, a magical first world remedy there. But give up before you even start. Just rinse dishes as soon as you’ve finished with them, wipe spillages up asap. Follow their paths and find what they want and eliminate it.
- Bring smart shoes, there is nothing more important than ones shoes here. Actually there is, your whole appearance. Bring smart clothes, just trust me.