While we are parenting our children in a cross cultural setting, it is difficult to know whether we are doing it right or not. One of our best sources of information about how living outside our home culture affects our children is hearing from adult children of PWs. Kim Holland recently shared some insights about her cross cultural experience. She is writing more and will from time-to-time share more with Peter’s Wife. Kim was a TCK(Third Culture Kid). She grew up in Argentina and currently works as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner in Lawton, OK, USA.
Lea, a long-time friend of Peter’s Wife, shared a wonderful story of love and motherhood in a country torn apart by civil war. I trust you will be as touched as I was by this story of Daudi and his mother.
Diane, Peter’s Wife editor
An especially vicious civil war enveloped Burundi from 1993-2000. Those who suffered the most time were the women, children, and elderly. The following is a true account of a remarkable band of women and a little boy whose life was cut short by a preventable condition. However short his life may have been, he showed all of us that life was a gift that was meant to be lived. There may be many heroes on earth that have received their accolades, this is a story about some unsung heroes.
We want to thank three PWs for sharing their experiences with long-distance grandmothering.
Home-side Grandmothering of PW Kids
I appreciate my mother and mother-in-law more each time we are back in the US. They are more important in the lives of my daughters than they would be if we lived a “normal” American life, and I think we all realize that. Because we live our lives in a cross-cultural setting, they make a big contribution by giving our children a kind of foundation in American culture, in a loving, wholesome way. Our lives are characterized by a high level of mobility, and yet Grandma’s house, Grandma’s hugs, Grandma’s cooking are a constant in our daughters’ memories.
Am I really a PW? I am only doing what wives and mothers back home are doing? If I am not “out there” working, I’m not really worthy to be called a PW. I’m a failure if I can’t learn the language well. A “real” PW wouldn’t be crying over bugs in the rice, mildew in my shoes, and having to cut my own hair.
These are distortions we have all heard in our heads from time to time. They are usually triggered by a bad day or a long series of bad days. They are the ones that bubble up from some ache deep inside and are blown all out of proportion the longer we think about them. They are a slippery slope to depression.
Some of these were the very reason Peter’s Wife was first started. Twenty years ago PWs coming from nearby countries to renew their visas would stop by and visit or stay with us for a few days. The husbands would visit with my husband in the living room. They would excitedly tell of all the wonderful results for their work. Their wives, on the other hand, would be with me in the kitchen crying because they hadn’t been able to learn the language, home schooling was not going well and the ants were taking over their kitchen. Peter’s Wife began as a way to connect these women with others in similar situations. It helps so much to know we are not alone.
“Honey, I’m worried about Rachel. She hasn’t been sleeping well, and at 14 she’s too old to be clinging to us so much.”
“See if you can get her to talk, Janet. Being her mom, you have the best chance to hear from her. In the meantime, don’t worry. She’ll get over it. . . whatever IT is.”
The dark secret that haunts Rachel is sexual harassment. While going into town on the bus, a young man purposefully brushed her breast with his fingers. Insignificant? Unimportant? Hardly.