And for once I was SuperMom

Monday, November 28, 2011

Why I Can't Feel too Sorry for Myself

I have a jealousy problem. A big one. I go into my friend’s homes and I’m jealous of the space they have. I’m jealous of the two cars that they have. I’m jealous that they’re considering buying a house. We are terribly financially behind most of my peers.
We spent two years in Africa and that choice put us only looking at the American dream and not actually achieving it. I don’t allow myself to regret it.
Here’s why:
We don’t have a dishwasher, I found myself complaining about it with friends the other day. Which I am ashamed of, only a small minority of people in the world have a dishwasher. Nobody, but nobody has a dishwasher in Nairobi, I wouldn’t know that fact had I not lived there.
As I click through the list of blogs that I follow I run across one from a girl I knew in college, they are in Uganda awaiting the adoption of a child. My heart sinks as I see her list one more court date that they have to attend. I have seen the fallen faces of parent’s after one more court date when a judge did not show up because they were ‘sick’ or on ‘vacation.’ I walked with friends as the adoption process dragged out for years, watched as corruption kept children out of the arms of the families that so wanted them. I saw the tears and hugged the children. I’ve been to orphanages; I’ve held the babies that were left behind. They all had colds. I have talked to friends who were bravely fostering these children, heard stories about children who would never be adopted because their incarcerated father wouldn’t give up parental rights. I have admired their courage as they gave their weekends to love on children who weren’t getting held enough, admired their courage to love a child that would probably never be their own to love. My inner cynic rises in the back of my head as I look at my friend’s hope, and then I beat her down and tell myself to be proud of my friend’s willingness to love and have hope.
A colleague of mine from the school that I taught at in Nairobi was kidnapped in Somalia four weeks ago. Her name is Jess Buchanan, she was working for a Danish demining group and was taken in an area known to have Somali pirates. Last I read she was being held for a ransom of 50 million Kroner, when I finally had the guts to convert that amount I learned that is about 8.6 million dollars. If you want to find this out you have dig in the US media, Justin Beiber’s hair is a higher head liner than one of our own citizens being kidnapped for ransom. I know because a friend posted about it on Facebook. And I know Jess, she’s not just some Chaco wearing do-gooder who I toss a passing prayer to the heavens and hope everything turns out all right. I know her, I know that she would probably rather be caught dead than wearing Chacos. I sat at the lunch table with her and laughed at her hysterical stories, heard her re-tell tales of her students, and wished her well when she moved to Somalia.
This is all why I don’t regret living overseas for those two years. My worldview was blown to smithereens. It’s hard to be in the US where in one opening of a browser site you can be knee deep in cluelessness and a thousand miles away from the heartbreak of the rest of the world. It would be so easy to feel so sorry for myself because we live in a small apartment with no dishwasher, but I know that in many parts of the world there would be a family of ten smashed into my apartment with a very good chance of no running water and no electricity. So I can’t feel too bad for myself, something that I find to be a blessing. I can’t turn a blind eye to the suffering of the world. Another blessing.

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