Celebrating TCK Mamas

 

“Your new baby is beautiful,” I said to my sister last week. “And I can’t believe you named her after me!”

“Wait,” my sister said. “Your name’s not Abigail.”

“Yeah. But my pen name is.”

“Oh. I forgot.”

“Yeah, but your subconscious knew. So maybe your subconscious named the baby after me.”

“I mean, I didn’t not name her after you.”

“I’ll take it.”

We’ve been on home assignment this summer, and I cherished every moment I got with my sister and her two little ones. Kay is almost two, and Abigail is just a few weeks old, and they’re both cuter than a baby bear holding a Precious Moments greeting card.

One afternoon I was giving Abigail a bottle when Kay high-stepped over and planted a sweet toddler kiss on her sister’s forehead. Something about that scene brought me back a decade.

It was like a flashback to the days when I had “littles.” I could feel what it was like back then. How incredibly long the days are. How it feels like someone is always getting the short end of the stick. How you wonder if you’re doing this mothering thing right. How you want to do ministry, but your kids are also your ministry, and you wonder if other people have figured out the secret to balancing that, and if someone is ever going to tell it to you.

I also remembered how beautiful and precious that season is, how fleeting, how full of wonder. The call to selfless love, the leaning on Jesus because you know you can’t do it alone. The way you read about the women bringing their children to Jesus to bless them and cry when they’re sent away… and again when He calls them to come because He’s not too busy or too important to bless children.

As I was pondering all this, my own children, now 9 and 12, walked in the room. How big they looked! How far they’ve come! Then I realized that I’ve come a long way, too.

See, I’ve spent a lot of my motherhood wishing I were doing better. Sometimes that’s been healthy, like when I reevaluate my priorities and commit to growing with God’s help. Sometimes it’s been less healthy, like when I wallow in guilt that I’m not the “perfect mom.”

But in that moment, as I looked at my kids, it dawned on me that God has been answering my prayers all along. He’s given me the strength to do “all things” through Him. He’s helped me to do things I never could have dreamed of. Things that make other people use words like “brave” to describe me, even though “brave” is hardly how I’d describe myself.

So, today I’m calling for an impromptu celebration of TCK motherhood. It’s a chance to thank God for the blessing of being a missionary and a mom to TCKs. It may not be our habit as moms to think of what we’ve done well, but today, let’s take a moment to recognize that in Christ, each of us is a “Proverbs 31” woman in our own unique way.

Here is a list of things I’m celebrating today. I hope you’ll create your own list. And I hope you can pass this idea on to other TCK moms in your life. Let’s celebrate each other!

Abigail’s List of Amazing TCK Mom Things

  • I birthed two babies in India.
  • I’ve traveled with children on more than 100 flights.
  • I nursed 2 infants in 6 countries. 
  • My son survived a habit of putting everything in his mouth in India. Some items on the menu included medicine without a child safety cap, a burrito made of mud and a leaf, and a single sheep dropping that looked exactly like a milk dud. (We went through a lot of albendazole.)
  • I homeschooled our daughter’s first grade year in three states, on two continents. (I followed the advice of a friend and stuck to the 3 R’s that year!)
  • I’ve been homeschooling for 6 years, and my kids have actually learned something.
  • I’ve made up a gajillion stories about two little mice named Ferdinand and Gertrude who have surprisingly similar struggles as my children, to help them process changes and cultural differences.
  • I helped my children through a traumatic leaving from our first mission field, along with the processing of a heap of emotions afterwards.
  • I sometimes chose to take pauses from my own interests and desires to invest in my kids.
  • …I also found ways to feed my interests and desires, so I could be a well-rounded person.
  • My kids like salad.
  • My kids sometimes remember whether to eat salad with a fork or their hands, depending on what country we are in.
  • I keep our home running and feeling homey when my husband is busy with ministry, and I trust my husband to care for and bond with our kids when it’s my turn for outside ministry.
  • Sometimes my kids get along…
  • …and when they feel bad for not getting along, they talk to Jesus about it.
  • I’ve read a lot of books aloud… and been tickled by my kids nearly every time for falling asleep while reading. 
  • I was privileged to be the one to share the gospel with my daughter, and to see her really understand and accept it on a grown-up level.
  • I’ve driven hundreds of miles supporting my children’s integration into our current host culture.
  • My kids have a relationship with their grandparents that I helped foster.
  • I’ve created Home and Stability out of unconventional materials in unconventional places. 

Celebrate your wins, fellow Proverbs 31 Mama. They are hard-won, especially when you are raising TCKs.

What’s something on your list? Let us know in the comments!

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Abigail Follows

Abigail Follows has lived on three continents and understood the life stories of friends in three languages. She has served as a missionary since 2010, alongside her husband, two energetic kids, and cat, Protagonist. You can read more from her at Whatsoever Thoughts, or check out her book, Hidden Song of the Himalayas.

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