Every morning I wake up and turn off my alarm 10 minutes before it rings. I go through my routine of waking up my son, preparing myself then proceed to the kitchen to rummage through the cupboards for “breakfast”.
After breakfast, we run out to try and call the elevator…praying fervently that it will be empty going down all 27 floors.
Not gonna happen.
We walk outside and immediately all eyes turn to us. I feel like I am walking with a poop stain on my butt…no ….no it’s the morning after and I just got caught….being an expat!!! My scary walk of shame. Not even sure why I am ashamed. Is it because of my short, curly hair when everyone else has long, straight , black hair? Or maybe it’s the absence of my almond-shaped eyes, thick lips and large rump.
No, I think it’s because of my smooth, silky chocolate skin. It makes their jaws drop, their eyes twitch and their fingers point as they laugh uncontrollably.
Yes, this has been my every day walk of shame for over 3 years. I think it’s time I get on home.
I woke up this morning feeling angry. I walked to the bus stop feeling angry. Got on the crowded bus angry.
I was very angry at China this morning.
Angry at the people because I have to carefully watch where I step as I walk for fear that I will step in human waste and green, bloody phlegm among other things. Angry because even though you patiently wait for the bus and it stops right in front of you, someone will come and shove you and your kid out of the way so they can go in first. Nevermind that the bus is so packed people are almost hanging out of the windows and coming in through the back doors.
Mostly, I was angry because as close as we are to getting out of here, the one obstacle standing in our way is so threatning, it makes me feel helpless. I am angry that no matter what I do or say, the visa process is still so annoyingly hard. I am angry at the prospect of staying here another year…well, staying in Chongqing. Although I have many choices in cities, at this late stage in the game, it may be too difficult for me to secure a teaching position in a desirable international school.
I realize the visa process is just that…a process. For weeks now I have been trying in my own strength to guide it. I became angry when I realized I only briefly sent up a prayer when I woke up this morning. I didn’t take the time to talk to God properly. Why? Because I am feeling emotionally and physically exhausted. So, instead of starting the day on a positive note, I started on a negative. I wasn’t a good example for my son as we walked on those dirty, slippery and crowded sidewalks. Words that shot out of my mouth, daggers that cut down the local people staring at us open-mouthed and gestures showing them I could be just as ignorant….were not a positive learning experience for my son. I was not a picture of Christianity.
Therefore, I have decided to re-examine myself. I have decided, to let go and let God when it comes to the visa process. I have decided to have more than one word with my Father when He allows me to open my eyes and see another day. I have decided to repent for my unfounded anger. I was angry…and I need not be.
I was recently reminded of a sad encounter I had with a young Chinese mother in a crowded Women’s Hospital. I was at the hospital waiting to be called on. Now, if you’ve ever been to a Chinese Hospital you will know that each doctor has about 300 or more patients to see in the day. A waiting room becomes something like a Hostel for the suffering!
This young woman about my age moved and sat next to me when she saw my husband Jaison sitting next to me with his hand tightly gripping mine. Her first words were broken English, shyly passing between her lips while her eyes were cast down, but I understood. Mind you, my husband and I are an interracial couple and it is somewhat rare to see a black woman with a Chinese man. I guess she felt inspired.
She went on to tell me about how she met a Nigerian man 7 years prior and fell head over heels in love. Her family strongly opposed the relationship. So much so, they forced her to marry someone of their choosing from her hometown. Since that time, she has battled depression until present. The man she married claimed he didn’t love her, but wanted to have a baby.
As I obsorbed all of this information and heartwrenching story from a perfect stranger, she dropped the craziest question: “What should I do?” I was completely baffled and taken aback. She asked my advice because she spent 7 years looking for this Nigerian man. At the time of me hearing her story, she had tracked him down to a medical school in America. She had not yet tried to contact him. I told her perhaps it just wans’t meant to be and that she should try to learn how to love her husband and to teach her husband how to love her. She cried a lot right there in the hospital telling me her story and hearing my lame advice.
Our names were called. Before parting ways, we exchanged phone numbers and I told her I would pray for her.
Almost 2 years later, she happily sent me a Wechat (Weixin) message that she had found him. He was married and living in Africa. She wanted to go see him to see if he still loved her. I was shocked and didn’t know what to tell her at this point. I could only hope she would think about the ripple effects of her choices. Perhaps one day I will hear from her again. Not sure how I hope her story will end…just that her heart will somehow mend.
One hundred percent of the time I love being able to go out and teach. One hundred percent of the time I hate leaving my babies behind. All their new accomplishments are being witnessed by someone other than myself. I am green with envy and the giant, green monster named “Jealousy” rears its head every chance it can get. Yes!! I said it! I am jealous of my husband. Why? You ask. Well, he got to see Connor’s first roll-over moment, his first real smile and heard his unbelievably crazy giggle before I did. He took him for his first hair cut and didn’t even bother to bring me a strand to save. He took him swimming at the baby pool house and I didn’t even know about it until I came home. I am lamenting about lost opportunities, lost joys of seeing my little one develop. I am lamenting but also rejoicing.
I am rejoicing that my babies have a “Super Milk Daddy”. This is what the few Stay-At-Home Dads here in China are called. He is who my children wake up to, the person who makes their breakfast, lunch and dinner. He takes them out to play and he kisses their boo boos. He encourages Ethan to learn even when he doesn’t want to. It’s all gooooood…..except for the fact that I feel like I am letting them down by not being there throughout the day. Sometimes, I have to literally stop and think about all of the tasks I used to do all by myself as a single mom and know that my husband is taking them on head-on never complaining.
I have a “Super Milk Daddy-Husband” and I love him more each day…even when his accomplishments with the boys make me feel inadequate as a mother and wife. Now I know exactly what married fathers all over the world are feeling when they have to disappear every morning into an office carrying a briefcase full of non-essential documents, which they will use to do non-essential work that seems to keep the non-essential business of this world revolving. I AM IN THEIR SHOES. I am a Super Work Mommy wishing to be a Super Milk Mommy.