Privilege and Sacrifice

Time has moved slowly this week.  Zoë has been sick with a high fever. She missed three days of school. It's funny how sometimes it's just so nice to stay at home and relax, while other times...all I want to do is get out.  She's back to school today so instead of getting out there, I'm sitting in the breeze on my porch, looking at the ocean - writing this blog.  I cannot complain.

Lately, I've been reflecting on our lives  here, maybe because of the frequent farewells or maybe because next month we are going home to visit.  There are SO many good things here.  I LOVE that I am working part-time and can pretty much catch up on life on the days that I don't work.  I've been chatting with some friends from home lately, and they all seem to have that feeling, "I just cannot catch up.  No matter what I do, I'm constantly busy and behind in life."  They feel trapped by their laundry, their house projects, their dishes, their meals.  I totally get it, because I used to feel that way too.   Working full time and raising children is no joke.   You feel exhausted when you get home from work, only to start job #2  - cooking, cleaning, preparing for the next day, not to mention getting homework done, getting everyone fed, bathed, quality reading time with kids, and getting everyone to sleep.  By the time the kids are in bed, you just feel EXHAUSTED.....  gearing up the energy to do it all again the next day.   Staying at home with young kids is just as exhausting, if not more.   I remember feeling that way and having to remind myself to not get caught up in the crazy storm of life, and just to enjoy the moments - those moments of connection we have with each other, with nature, with real life.

Here, I have more time.  I can actually sit on my porch and write a blog (Fanny is actually in the house cleaning as I write this...which is one of those bizzare expat privileges I am still not 100% comfortable with{See last week's blog}) .  I can read books.  I can meet friends out for lunch.  I can go grocery shopping (to the 10 different places I have to go).  I don't get caught up in laundry and cleaning because I have help - and it's crazy affordable.  I can connect with Warren because we can pay for a babysitter without spending our week's budget.  Last night we went to dinner and came home to children asleep and a clean house for only $7.50 USD, not including the cost of dinner which was also reasonable.  Warren's job can be intense, and he does have to travel a bit, but it's WAY less intense than his job in Atlanta.  And....I have help!  He is able to spend more time with us and he LOVES what he does!   I can work part-time and keep my foot in my profession.  We feel happy.

The kids have so much freedom.  They run around everywhere.  They spend a lot of time outside. They swim all of the time.  They have an hour and half of outside playtime a day at school!  They go to school with kids from over 40 different nations.  They understand that the world is a huge place with all sorts of cultures. It's pretty amazing.  Their school focuses on the whole child and not on a test.  There is absolutely NO high stakes testing here!

 A friend of mine recently posted on facebook that she had a really hard time letting her 7 year old child run a 1 mile race by herself.  I read her post, and thought, "That wouldn't even occur to me to worry about that."  I wouldn't give it a second thought.  Maybe we have different parenting styles, but I think the difference is more likely due to our location.  It just feels so safe here.  I've really learned to give the kids a lot of freedom, knowing everyone looks out for the children.

We go to resorts nearly once a month.  We get to snorkel and paddleboard and take in stunning views on a regular basis.  Just sitting here, I am surrounded by beauty.  It does something good for the soul to be able to see a striking sunset on the water every day.  I get to run along the sea wall every week!

We go to resorts, because Suva does not have a lot to offer on a daily basis.  Our biggest entertainment is the movies.  We do not have museums, and festivals, and parks upon parks loaded with playgrounds.  I miss the culture of the city.  We have such amazing, fresh food and fish here...but there is little variety and it all depends on the season. We certainly don't have Morelli's or Starbucks or any of the foodie restaurants we frequented in Atlanta.   Because the kids do not have high stakes testing, I frequently find myself worrying if they are caught up to their peers in the States.  Will they be able to go back into the grade they should be in, or will they be behind?  How will I know?  What if one of them has a learning disability?  How could they even deal with that here?

We have to say goodbye, A LOT.  We grow close to people, and then wish them farewell.  A part of our hearts are always leaving us.   We always have lice.  I am terrified if my kids fall and break their arm, the medical system here will leave us in a lurch...with possible permanent damage.  Every time my kids get sick, I worry a bit more than I did at home....what if it's dengue?  What if they become allergic to something and the hospital doesn't have epi pins?

A HUGE part of our hearts are SO far away.  This is by far the biggest sacrifice.  I miss my family.  I miss my friends.  I feel sad that my kids don't get to spend time with their cousins and grandparents. Skype is awesome, but it's not the same as real family time.   I feel so bad for my parents and Anne.  I know a big part of their hearts are all the way across the world.  It's expensive to travel back and forth between the States and Fiji so we cannot (and our family cannot) do it as often as we would like, especially for really important occasions, like Glen's funeral or babies being born. I don't like to feel like I'm hurting people, and I feel like it hurts our family for us to be far.  Thank goodness technology is what it is.

I've finally found the time to put together photo/memory books of the last five years.  As I've been filtering through thousands of pictures, I realize how important and integral family is to me.  We've made all these sacrifices for our family to live the life we live.  We're here because we are HAPPY here.  We are providing experiences for our kids that are once in a lifetime.   While there are hard parts, the benefits outweigh the difficulties.  I feel so lucky to be here.  I am so glad that our family has the opportunity to connect with each other, this culture, and nature.  For now, I am just going to relax and enjoy the moment.

post long run! views help the distance.

Andie getting an award for her creativity.