“Mommy, why does everyone always have to leave?”
My daughter cried this question out through her tears this past Friday as we walked away from her school. She had just finished saying good-bye to a classmate who was moving back to her home country after three years in El Salvador.
Tori didn’t take the good-bye well.
She never takes it well. Someone leaves after a few weeks, or a year, or three years and she simply can’t cope with it. She can’t cope with it because in her life she is always losing someone, or something, or an identity, or a friend.
She lives there in between all the losses.
My kids are TCKs…Third Culture Kids. That means that they don’t belong to their home culture, and they don’t belong to their host culture. They belong to a “third culture” that incorporates aspects of all of these cultures.
An unfortunate side effect of TCK-ness is constantly losing things in your life. Every loss, small or big, becomes a painful opportunity to relieve the long list of things that just don’t stay the same. Nobody seems to stay and nothing seems like it can be counted on. When we are here, we aren’t there but here will not always be our home. It’s confusing for a child.
Words like “home” and “friends forever” simply do not apply.
Tori has grasped this all too well, as her question revealed. It does feel like everyone is always leaving, and it does feel like she is always grieving the loss of something. Living with the loss is part of her story.
When we chose this life we knew that there would be good and bad, and we knew we would change our children’s stories dramatically. I worry that my kids will have committment issues, and I think I’ve probably screwed them up in some way. But, I also think that the good outweighs the bad.
We are obeying God’s call to serve Him in El Salvador and I know that He is good. So I trust Him with my children’s hearts, and I pray, and I have faith that God can carry us all through the losses.
I was reading through your site today and this article from before Christmas struck a cord. To live inside of God’s will sometimes demands sacrifices… and what pain this can bring when the sacrifices are made not only by us, but also by our children.
Fred, it’s so true! Sometimes we are called to lead or children into a sacrifice. It’s definitely hard to understand and trust in those moments.