By the time my next Mission Monday post comes out, my youngest son will be married; so, I thought I would take this day to think about the life of my MK/TCK* son, Nathan.
When my boys were young, I could quickly see that their lives would be so full of events and moments, I could not possibly remember them all. Wanting to leave them with some kind of record of their life overseas, I began writing “Mother’s Memories” each year on their birthdays as a kind of recap of their year. It’s very “low tech,” as I typed up each year, complete with goofy clip art. I printed out the page and put it in a plastic folder. In the end, they each had eighteen years of their life story.
It’s good to remember.
Nathan was born in Beirut, delivered by Dr. Kik! Before he was a year old, he’d traveled to the States twice and then to Tunisia, where he took his first steps. His second Christmas was spent in Egypt, where he met all his aunts, uncles and cousins. Traveling would take up much of my memories in Nathan’s life.
We did a lot of traveling in Tunisia, and one of his best times was searching for dinosaur bones and fossils near Tatouine. We left Tunisia when Nathan was four, and he celebrated his fifth birthday in the USA, where we spent an entire school year. He cried the night of his birthday, because he thought that meant he had to leave Ms. Cummings’ class in Kindergarten. After one game of tennis with his cousin, Brittany, Nathan decided he wanted to be a tennis player when he grew up. Somewhere along the road, he also wanted to work at McDonalds.
Nathan began first grade in Egypt, where he made great friends. This is also where he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, though he was actually baptized the following year in a hotel pool in Turkey, while we were at a conference there.
A year after that, we were at another conference in Kenya, where Nathan had a great time with us on safari. When a team of church friends visited us in Egypt, Nathan was brave enough to go into the mummy room at the Egyptian museum and declared that it wasn’t scary at all.
As Nathan grew, my memories were of the times we had together, with him helping and talking with me while I was in the kitchen. He also began to do some really cool projects with his dad, including a robot from used computer parts.
Entertaining visitors was a specialty of Nathan, even when practical tricks, like water balloons where included in the visit. I don’t think his cousin, Becky, will ever forget her time with the Ghattas family in Egypt.
By the time Nathan faced 7th grade, we had to make a quick exit from Egypt, and he now began his teenage years in America. This required lots of conversations, as he worked through cultural differences, but God helped us both through it all.
Middle and High School years may read much like any American child’s story, though Nathan’s was interspersed with reminders from at TCK perspective. Seeing his brother go off to college was an especially hard thing, though it paved the way for Nathan to join him there three years later.
I suddenly realize that I come to the end of Nathan’s 16th year and stop. What happened to keep me from writing in 2014, I don’t know, but I do know that his 18th year would have been hard to write. Though it included a wonderful graduation trip to the British Isles, his first semester of college life was marked by the sudden death of his father.
No mother should have to write about that.
Yet, here I am, letting the blogging world know this detail, because, when we choose to keep a record of our children’s lives, just like God’s record in the Bible, we have to include the good and the bad. So, as I recorded Nathan’s fall at school when he broke his arm and recorded the hurt of leaving Egypt so quickly; here, I record the devastation of losing a father at eighteen, knowing that one day, my dear third culture kid, will be able to look back on it all and thank the Lord for having allowed him to experience so many amazing things, even the hard ones, because each memory has been used to make him the man he is today.
Just as Mary hid hard words in her heart, we mothers remember too, knowing God will take each moment and use them to His glory in the lives of our children.
It’s good to remind them of that.
Grace and Peace
*MK = Missionary Kid; TCK = Third Culture Kid