I've had one of those days. You know...the day where you feel really BLECH but you can't figure out any big reason why. Yeah, that day. I think it's got something to do with Ghana, but I don't know exactly what. So here it comes...word vomit. Yep, I'm going to process as I write and it may make no sense but will probably help me in the end. Just like you feel after you throw up!
I have an awesome family. I have an amazing supportive husband and four beautiful children. I have the priviledge to stay home with my kids every single day. A priviledge I do not take lightly.
I get to help people understand adoption every day--and actually get paid a bit to do it! There are many out there that would love to have my job. I never take my job for granted either. I know I'm so very blessed to have the job I do, getting to live out my passion for adoption every day.
I get to travel to Ghana a few times a year for my job. What a benefit!!! One of the places in the world that has a big piece of my heart, I actually get to visit at no cost to myself. In the future, I might get to visit other places in Africa (or other parts of the world). When my 21 year old self (before marriage, kids, career change, etc.) looks at my 34 year old self my 21 year old self says, "Girl, really?! You have been to Cambodia, and Haiti, and Vietnam, and Ghana?! I've never even been outside of the United States!" I never even dreamt of what my life would be.
I miss Ghana really bad right now, but I can't go back yet. For one thing, there's no big "work" reason for me to travel. For another, this amazingly beautiful family I have also happens to be a high maintenance family. I love them, but they are not the easiest crew to leave for two weeks. I wouldn't trade them for the world (or traveling throughout it!) but sometimes I get gripey because I can't take off at a moment's notice and visit Ghana (or Cambodia, or Vietnam, or...).
Sometimes I think, if only Eric could see. [I can hear him in my head going, "I'm with you babe! It's not like I chose to be this way!] If Eric could see then he could be single parent for a few weeks while I do my world travel thing. ;-) He could drive himself to and from work. He could get groceries. He could take a kid to the ER if there was an emergency. He could see when kiddo #3 is writing on the walls with Sharpie while kiddo #4 is putting peanut butter in her hair, all the while properly monitoring kiddos #1 and #2 for safe internet play.
But even if Eric could see, that wouldn't fix all of the high maintenance issues of me flying off to Ghana. There's still the little issue about schooling, and the fact that I do that with the kids each day. Oops. So we either need the dad to stay home for two weeks while I'm gone (NOT gonna happen) or we need someone else to step in as teacher, or my kids lose two weeks of school. No guilt there! Sorry kids--no school. Mommy's off to Africa now.
I JUST WISH IT WASN'T SO HARD. If we do manage to get all of our bases covered, it means that there is a huge guilt factor. Everybody else is bending over backward to take over my spot in the family so that I can go galley-vaunting around in Ghana. I feel like a horrible mom when I pawn my kids off to their already-too-busy grandparents and my husband off to whomever is willing to drive him to and from work.
Hmm... That's it. I feel selfish. I feel selfish because I miss Ghana and I do want to go back. I want to go back even knowing what a crazy situation it sets up for my family left behind. Because I need Ghana. [I need SE Asia too, but I don't have any way to get there right now.]
If I could I would take my family with me. Actually, I dream of doing that. Taevy has a huge desire to go. The little ones aren't old enough yet to know that they miss it, but in another five years or so I suspect they will. Samren....well he's Samren...and probably would never feel he missed out if he didn't go to Ghana. Eric. Eric. Can. Never. Go. NEVER.
It hurts me way down deep to know that my husband will never get to feel the steamed air in Accra, or wake up to the "swoosh swoosh" of someone sweeping their dirt yard. Ghana is a huge part of my heart that I will never get to share with him.
Hopefully my mom and Taevy will get to go with me sometime in the next few years or so. I've just got to save my pennies, because taking a daughter and grandma probably don't qualify as a business expense!
For some reason, it seems when I get down about my own circumstances, I get defensive of Ghana (as if Ghana needs ME to be her defender!). It has always been a pet-peeve of mine to present an unrealistic picture of developing countries. I get so sick of seeing ONLY sad pictures put up as representation of a very happy country. I am peeved when people see a child alone and assume "she must be a poor orphan." Why can't she just be running down the street to get a coke? Why the assumption that she is an orphan? You can see the pictures I'm talking about--the pictures that are carefully chosen in order to make you want to help these poor souls.
Ghana doesn't need our pity. Ghana is not a country of people living in abject poverty with nothing to put in their bellies every night. There are many, many people in Ghana that have all the food they need, a safe roof over their beds, and a way to support their family come the following day. To you and me that may look like the dirt house of a sustenance farmer. To you and me that may look like "poverty." In fact, they just live DIFFERENTLY. Really people, electricity and TV are not requirements for a happy life. Many Ghanaian families life RICH, FULL, FUN, HEALTHY lives without those modern conveniences.
Ghanaians have taught me more about living, than I have taught them. They have reminded me how nice it is to know your neighbors, and to hang out on breezy evenings, telling stories and singing songs. Ghanaians live out the commandment to "treat others as you would treat yourself." The finest is given for gifts. Ghanaians have taught me it does no good to worry about tomorrow. Why? Who knows what will happen tomorrow? [When you're in Ghana you live this every day.] Ghanaians tell me to take life "small, small" Do not worry. Take it slow.
I NEED AFRICA (GHANA) MORE THAN AFRICA (GHANA) NEEDS ME!
There might be a handful of people in Ghana that need me. Maybe you're helping a handful of people too. But let us not kid ourselves--WE are the ones gaining reward by staying involved with these people. We gain their love, their laughter, and their "instant friend" status. We come home filled up NOT because we have done something seen as good, but because we have RECEIVED something that can't be brought over in a donation bag.
I've spend time in 7 of Ghana's Regions. I can say across the line that all of the people groups I've met had JOY in common. A person who comes to Ghana and only gets pictures of a child who happens to be crying (they do that ya know), or a malnourished child, is missing the rest of the country. YES, there are malnourished children, but in most places (thankfully) that is not an overriding attribute of the children--that is their SMILES!
Ghanaians SURVIVE. They Survive with great adversity. They do it with a grace that most Americans (including myself) couldn't do it with. I would never want them to think that I (or my friends) look down on them. Why can't we handle it more the way it would be handled in Ghana? Eyes down, humbling and without fanfare, a gift is given. Sincere thanks are given. A picture might be taken. Maybe a baby will be named after you (K)! And then life goes on.
We must not perpetuate the stereotype that Americans can "save" Ghana, nor that Ghana needs to be saved. I can never repay Ghana for all that she has given to me.