While I was “away” on “maternity leave,” I invited some amazing women to come and share their hearts with y’all. The series was such a success, I decided to make it an on-going thing here! Every Thursday, mamas of every stage + season will be dropping by to inspire you with their strengths and their shortcomings–because in this age of Mommy Wars, what we really need is a reminder that none of us can Do. It. All.
Today, I’m thrilled to welcome my dear friend, Christie! We met in college, where she was a couple years behind me. Now we’re both married with children, but while I came to settle in the suburbs of Seattle, God had some glorious far-flung plans for Christie and her family! Could you share a little more about yourself with us, Christie?
Hi there! I’m Christie. I live in Bangkok, Thailand–a hot, humid city full of pink taxis, Buddhist temples, delicious food, and friendly people. My family consists of me, my husband who is half-Thai, half-white/American, and our two little girls (ages 3 & 2).
So, to fill everyone in — how did you wind up half a world away from home?
In February, my little family moved from Southern California to Bangkok to work with a nonprofit that restores women coming out of prostitution. Since moving nine months ago, our full-time job has become learning the Thai language (SO challenging) and adjusting to life in Thailand (a HUGE adjustment!).
When we moved to Thailand, we lost most of our day-to-day competency. As foreigners, we’ve had to re-learn how to do basic skills (like doing laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, driving) in a whole new culture and context. Even though we’ve lived here for months, we are still adjusting. We’ve recently had to learn how to replace our gas tank when our cooking gas runs out and how to get a new car battery when it dies. All of this learning takes up a lot of time and energy.
So amazing what God is working in your lives! In addition to learning a whole new culture, what do you (dare I ask) DO?
My husband and I split our “stay-at-home” time and “work” time roughly 50/50 to give us both the time we need to become competent Thai speakers. This means my husband is a half-time stay-at-home dad and I’m a half-time stay-at-home mom.
My “work” time involves language and cultural learning (meeting with a Thai tutor, reviewing lessons, talking with friends and neighbors, etc.) and it involves other work for our missions organization (keeping in touch with supporters, answering emails, etc.).
My “at home” time involves mostly caring for my dear kiddos who are usually sweet but sometimes act like a threenager and a terrible-two-year-old. I fix them snacks, take them to the pool, help them go potty, break up fights, read books with them, etc. I am also usually able to squeeze in some cooking, shopping, and/or cleaning while caring for them.
I’ve always enjoyed cooking simple, healthy meals for my family. When we moved to Thailand, this went out the window for about six months. We relied on yummy, cheap, high sodium Thai street food to carry us through. I’ve recently begun cooking again and really enjoy it.
To stay healthy and bust culture stress, I do a short workout about three times per week, and I try to get the sleep my body needs, which is a LOT here.
My husband and I together work hard to keep the house tidy. By 7:30 most nights, almost everything is back where it should be. A disheveled house makes us both feel crazy. A tidy house helps us to relax in the evening.
I blog about life in Bangkok a couple of times per month over at Scattered Snippets. I really enjoy taking time to reflect, craft a post, and share it with my readers. I also read two or three books every month just for fun, and I enjoy taking pretty pictures, usually of my kids.
So humbled right now. She works; she writes; she’s learning to speak Thai! What DON’T you do, Christie?
There’s so much I don’t do!
I’m not a full time stay at home mom. My husband carries roughly half the load on childcare and housework.
I don’t work full time.
My kids aren’t enrolled in activities — no sports, dance, art, or music classes. I don’t homeschool. (My 3-yr-old goes to a nearby private, Thai preschool five mornings a week. My 2-yr-old will probably join her in six months.)
I don’t do my makeup or hair anywhere close to everyday. I don’t keep up with fashion. The home we rent came pre-furnished, so I don’t have to decorate and I don’t want to.
These days, I don’t bake. Not even birthday cakes or Christmas cookies. I don’t cook fancy.
When it comes to cleaning the house, my husband and I try to do the minimum to keep the house from being gross. But, sometimes it still gets gross. The cost of labor is very low here, so I am hoping to hire house cleaning help.
I don’t post often to my blog or aspire to be well-read. I’d love to do more, but don’t have the time and energy right now. I just post when I feel inspired, and I always enjoy the creative outlet.
I don’t work on Saturdays. Instead, we enjoy time as a family, and my husband and I take turns watching the kids so the other can have a more extended personal space to pray, read, go on Facebook, go to a coffee shop, or whatever else is restorative.
I don’t usually work in the evenings. On a daily basis, our kids go to bed early (around 7-7:30). Sometimes I squeeze in a bit more productivity at this time. Often, I don’t.
What I’m picking up from everything you’re sharing is such a beautiful balance between work and family and faith–and then just letting all the non-essentials go. I think that’s something any mom, no matter where she lives or works, can be inspired by. Amazing.
Before we say good-bye, are there any tips or tricks you can share from the trenches?
In the midst of the many hats I wear and the challenges of raising a family overseas, I am learning to ask God throughout my day what it means to be faithful to Him in the present moment and asking Him for the strength to do it.
Sometimes being faithful means tackling a pile of dishes (we don’t have a dishwasher) and practicing new Thai grammar while my kids nap. Sometimes, especially when I notice anxiety creeping into my soul, being faithful means setting aside my language study for half an hour to brew a cup of tea, pray, and rest.
I am so grateful that God doesn’t call us to be successful. In most areas of my life, success isn’t entirely within my control. Instead, He calls his followers to be faithful people who rely on Him. With His help, that’s something I can do.
Just reading those words is such a balm to my mama heart. Yes: He doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called, Amen?
Thank you so much for joining us today, Christie! And if y’all are as blessed by Christie’s heart and story as I am, please hop over to Scattered Snippets to read more about her life and mission work in Thailand!
We have been blessed by some wonderful voices so far in this series…but there’s still one missing. Yours!
Are YOU a mom who Can’t Do It All? (And really, who can?) We’d love for you to share your story here at Baking Humble Pie! Just contact me with your previously unpublished submission of 500-1000 words, answering the following questions:
Who are you?
What do you DO?
What DON’T you do?
What tips + tricks can you share from the trenches?