Mother Ship (N.) - a ship that serves or carries one or more smaller ships. Raising boys in India is quite nice really. We have monkeys, scooters, plenty of dirt and mountains. The challenges are comical. I found very quickly on, that if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. Its been an excellentmotto for our 3 years thus far. I remember in June of 2010, when we arrived here, I had a major meltdown in the bathroom on day 3. I’d hit my first India limit fairly quickly. Both boys (ages 3 & 4) were sitting in big plastic buckets in our smelly bathroom, mosquito bites covering their bodies, jetlagged as all get out. I was frantically pouring cold water over them, trying to scrub off the India grime that had caked up on their scrawny bodies. I was having to hold them down like puppy dogs, so they wouldn’t scurry away out from underneath the cold water. Not the sweet, warm, bubbly, happy bath time we’d experienced for the past 4 years together! Talk about culture shock. They were in shock. I was in shock. I’m sure the neighbors were in shock too. I’m not sure my boys have ever seen me scream, cry and stomp that much. Thank God that is just a memory now. But somehow, by God’s grace, we’ve figured out life here. It looks much different than I had ever thought it would look, especially as a mommy. We don’t go to the library, make elaborate crafts, play tball, shop at target, sing in church choir, or take family bike rides. I’ve had to redefine what my ideal upbringing for my children is and have had to let go of many expectations. But I’ve managed to grasp hold of a new set of dreams. My children get to see the world. They are global kids. They have an incredible adventure every day. They see the “majority world” first hand. I think they are some of the most privileged kids I know. I’m done with feeling sorry for myself that my kids don’t get to go to ballgames, or have a huge treehouse, or wear cute clothes. Why focus on what I think they’ve lost, only to lose sight of what they can be gaining? The shift of attitude didn’t come easily. I can be quite stubborn. I clung to what I knew and what I thought was “normal” and “right”, like all of us moms do. I’d cry after phone conversations with friends back home who had their children signed up for karate, soccer and swim lessons, with loads of choices for good schools, churches and neighborhoods. I had nothing of the sort available for my kids. I’d even get bitter and resentful, like it was their fault or something. But then I slowly began to change.
I often find that once my head is up and looking out, everything changes. If I take the plunge and step out my front door in the morning, everything ends up ok. Slowly, after months of getting over culture shock and cold baths, we began to love the place we were in and the people we were with. We began to know them, understand them, become like them. Our community here became our family. Just this week, I’ve been sick with an awful kidney infection and my living room has been full of my Tibetan, Nepali and Indian friends, bringing me food, rubbing my feet, playing with my children, washing my dishes. I’ve never experienced community in this way before. My boys are loved so well, by so many. And they are learning how to love back, even when its not easy. My attitude shift didn’t come quickly, but when it happened, it took a 180. I realized how wrong I’d been. These people I live with, their kids don’t have organized sports, church choirs or fancy vacations either. Their kids aren’t signed up for after-school activities and aren’t becoming multi-skilled elementary school prodigies. Yet, in spite of this, they are content. Like none I’ve ever seen. They love each other. Like none I’ve ever seen. They have very little, yet they have so very much. In the western world of comparisons, judgements and striving, I believe we sometimes lose touch of those things we actually care about. I know most of us moms could care less if our little boys are the best at tball or if their craft looks better than the next kids. But one thing I do know, I know that deep down, we care for them to be loved and to know how to love. I know that we all have a common dream that our kids will grow up to be world changers, to strive for what is right, to love the unloved, to see the world in a different way. These are the dreams of moms. As moms, I think one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is to give them sails, let them sail out to sea, explore new things, meet new people, and learn to make lasting change in this world. So join me this Mother’s Day – let’s all be “Mother Ships” leading our kids to new adventures, new beginnings, new relationships. Let’s serve and carry our little ones to places they can only dream of, whether it be making dinner for a neighbor, smiling at the homeless man in front of the grocery store, volunteering at a soup kitchen or moving to India, let’s take them with us and teach them how to sail. “A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” - Grace Murray Hopper