Day One (Reverse Culture Shock)

We are home from Belize and I can’t stop throwing the toilet paper in the waste basket. This is probably too “up close and personal,” but due to plumbing challenges in Latin America, it is necessary to discard toilet paper (after use) in the trash can. Madelynn caught me the other day and said, “Oh, gross, Mom! We throw that in the toilet here!” She seems to have no issues with culture shock.

I, on the other hand, have noticed a bit of reverse culture shock for myself. Back in Minnesota, I am charmed to be driving a car again. After six weeks of walking, riding bike and taking taxi’s it is lavish to have a vehicle at my command to come and go and go and come anywhere, anytime I want. My only real errand the first day back was picking my kids up from school. I was nearly giddy, like a child on an Easter egg hunt—wanting more places to search and find and drive to.

The first night home, my kids put on winter pajamas even though it had been a rare March day reaching 60 lovely degrees.  Madelynn rubbed her arms up and down exclaiming, “Ooooh! Cozy!” And I knew it had nothing to do with the weather—coming home simply feels comfortable.

But, I noticed as I was unpacking, I feel like I am always starting over. I take a sabbatical to write, but the transition of living life (“keeping up with life” is probably a better way to describe it in America) still takes adjustment.

Jordan’s school conferences were this morning and I was told I need to help him learn how to say his shapes and colors in Spanish (I guess that’s what I get for going to Belize and teaching him how to say greetings and basic conversation in a second language—I completely by-passed Kindergarten prerequisites!) Funny how he is advanced in many areas and still all I heard in the meeting today is that he is behind.

So much of life is about starting over.  When I was married to Shawn, life naturally fell in line…it was on a continuum. Each day continued towards each tomorrow’s goal. The days and weeks and months tallied up the sum of all the previous days into what I defined as our future. Like putting money in a savings account, time added up in a similar way—growing and incurring interest.

Now life looks different. I find many examples in my daily life of things that don’t continue, don’t mature or give return. Styles change. Friends move. Technology becomes obsolete. People die. Life starts over.

It’s like my journal entries all begin on the same day. Day 1–try to lose weight. Day 1–find something creative to make for supper. Day 1–get eight hours of sleep, drink eight glasses of water, try to find eight minutes of sanity. Day 1–don’t forget to teach Jordan shapes and colors. Day 1–sign Maddi up for soccer or gymnastics or swimming (but not all three at once because that will make you crazy!) Day 1–try to figure out what I want to do with my life.

There’s impatience in me. I wish I was on Day 30 –five pounds lighter, dinner menus planned, A+report cards, an active yet not stressful social calendar set, sleep and water consumed, sound direction on where life is headed.

People have asked me, “Is it harder to come back than to leave?”

I would say, the hard part is learning to be satisfied even when life changes, especially when life starts over. Being content even on day one (however many day ones there are).

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