We're in the States for the next six month doing that thing that used to be called furlough. I really am not sure what we are suppose to be calling it now, but whatever. I just know it means some upheaval in the family, learning and relearning how to live in a different culture and for us a very different climate!
This time around we have two school aged kids and a 2 1/2 year old. It's been different to watch the big two kids process being here. Initially, they talked about Michigan as home, and when people would ask us where we live, they would be quick to say Michigan. But just last week, that changed. They started to tell people we are from Costa Rica. There have been definite moments of sadness and tears over our dog not being with us, over the lack of sun here, of missing our church family and friends.
It's killed me as a mom to see my kids hurting, to watch their upheaval. I say this so often, but if it was just me in pain, well, whatever. But when it's your kids...
I don't know about you, but I have to be conscious not to rush my kids through the process. It's easy to just say "oh honey, it'll be just fine. We'll be back in just a few months." I want to make it better and see them smiling and enjoying life. But I think what is the better approach is to come alongside them in the sadness, to hug them, to cry with them, and say "yeah, I miss our dog too." To let them know that it's ok to feel the sadness. I don't want them to become hardened and calloused.
In the hopes that this will help someone else, here are few things we've stumbled on that have helped in those hard moments.
- We made a photo book of our life in Costa Rica. We included photos of our house, their rooms, our pets, yard and friends.
- Everyone in the family got a special t shirt from Costa Rica for Christmas this year. Many days the boys will say they want to wear it.
- We found that talking about home, remembering the fun parts helps
- Speaking Spanish. One of our boys declared one night at dinner that it was going to be an all Spanish dinner. No English allowed!
- Listening to music that we sing at our church in Costa Rica