Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Hard

I don't like to write when things are hard because I don't like sounding whiny or ungrateful. But with some distance between now and "the hard," I decided it's time to write it all down.

Moving is hard. Period. Whether you're moving across town or across the world, the chaos, disruption-of-normalcy, and shear amount of labor is hard. After our "honeymoon" return to the US with our wonderful visits with family and friends over the summer, life got hard pretty quickly.

We lived in a hotel for one month. Yes, the room had a small kitchen, and the hotel served breakfast every day. But seven people in a hotel room for one month gets very tight very quickly. It was a mad rush in the morning to get out the door in order to get Madi to seminary at our church (20 minutes away) and get the rest of the kids to our Ivandale house to meet the bus. And the nighttime routine of big kids needing to finish homework while little kids needed to go to bed created a contentious, grumpy atmosphere.

And then the shipments arrived. Chaos beyond chaos. Boxes upon boxes. I loathed myself for having so much STUFF. There was so little space in our Ivandale house, we could barely make progress of unpacking, because there was just no room to put anything away. We lived amid boxes for at least a week. We went from no floor space, to paths between skyscraper piles, to slowly moving lots of the boxes to the basement and unpacking the rest. 
In the middle of all the shipment crazy, we decided to renovate our kitchen. What were we thinking? Really? So now, there was also the construction addition to the box mess. This is my old kitchen in my driveway:
All of this "hard" was somewhat expected (or chosen), so when life decided to give us an unexpected challenge, I just about died. Our new (but used) minivan, died a quick sudden death. It happened on a Friday night when Owen and I were about to go to our first big social event with friends. At first we thought the minivan needed a new battery, but it turned out to need a new engine.

Between the expense and the emotional toll of figuring out what to do about transportation while it was in the shop, it just about put me over the edge. Here are the guts of our minivan (which pretty much symbolizes how I felt about life in general that week):
Two days after getting the minivan back from the shop, our truck's transmission died. It's still sitting, unfixed in our driveway. Oh life can be hard!

These were the temporal challenges. The tangible ones. The ones that could be fixed with hard work or money. As my children went back to school, we also faced the hard of re-establishing friendships and finding a place of acceptance. Our ward exceeded all my expectations (thank you Hamilton Ward!), and we received amazing love and support from family (thank you Mom&Dad Abbe, my parents, Allison, and Uncle Truman!!). But school for the kids wasn't as smooth. There were nightly tears. Here's one heart-wrenching conversation I had with Charlotte not too long ago:

"Mom, this doesn't feel like home," Charlotte said looking around the house.
"What do you mean?" I asked. "What does home feel like?"
"Well first, home is warm, NOT cold!" (She's still getting used to the autumn weather). Then with some thought she added, "Home is Clara, Tate, and Yuli. Home is Indonesia."

Yes, we all miss Indonesia.

And then my Mom. My strong, healthy, hard-working, hoe-to-the-end-of-the-row Mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. On the one hand, the news was devastating. I'd never truly contemplated the mortality of my parents. And the last thing I want is for them to have to suffer.  On the other hand, it gave me heightened perspective on what really matters. Our family prayers became much less focused on material things (like praying for the kitchen to be finished or that we could come up with money for the car repair) and much more focused on sincere hopes, like that my mother's surgery would be successful and that she would feel our love and support.

Hindsight is always 20/20. Our kitchen is finished. Most of the boxes are out of sight (actually most of them are in the basement!). Our minivan is fixed. My mom's surgery was successful. I can hope that the worst is behind us...but that's not a guarantee. But at least I can write about it now. We're here - alive and kicking!