“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Lewis Stevenson
Growing up, I always thought and hoped that I would get married to the man of my dreams, settle down in the suburbs somewhere with a big grassy front yard, in a neighborhood filled with friends, have a kid or two, and live happily ever after.
But life has a way of surprising you. I did get married to the man of my dreams, but we didn’t settle down in a nice little house in the suburbs, surrounded by childhood friends. Instead, we moved way across the world, where we knew no one, and had not one, not two, but FIVE kids.
Now, to back up a bit, my parents are from Hong Kong, but I, along with my brother were both born in America. My husband, G, is from America, born and bred in Boston. My family moved back to Hong Kong when I was 7 years old, and because my Chinese was nowhere near good enough to get into a local school, I was enrolled in an American school. So by day, I was surrounded by fellow ABC’s and other Americans, and by night/ weekends, I would be with my parents and occasionally my many other Chinese relatives.
One thing that Chinese people like to do is to get together and eat. And when they eat, they talk. And because my brother and I went to an international school, we often were called things like, “bananas” – yellow on the outside and white on the inside. Or criticized because our Chinese wasn’t good enough, or we didn’t know all the proper way of navigating the Chinese culture and etiquette. Now, I love my family and all our 50+ (sometimes crazy) relatives, and most of them said these things, not out of spite, but to casually comment and make conversation, but fast forward 20 years later and these things still are fresh in my memory. I don’t recall my feelings ever really being hurt, or feeling inferior, but just, different. And when I graduated high school and went off to college in America, all the feelings came rushing back when I felt like the token Asian in the white American crowd, but too westernized to hang out with the Asian crowd.
Now fast forward to today. Today I am 30. Today I am neither in America, or Hong Kong, the two places where our families are. Today I am in Bangkok, Thailand, where I’ve made my own family. Our not so little family of 7. We don’t have a big grassy yard, or live in the suburbs, or have just one or two kids. We live in a townhouse, next to an amazing school that my husband teaches at and try to figure out, by the grace of God, how to navigate life with our 5 kids, ages 7, 5, 4, 2, and 11 months.
Some days are so crazy and I just want to hide under the the covers, away from little hands that always reach for you and little people who seem to have a bottomless pit for a stomach when it comes to snacks. But the other times, the moments when I just stop and look around, and can’t help but be oh so thankful, for this crazy, multi-cultured family of 7, and this amazing community here that we’ve found here in the heart of Thailand, somewhere we’d never thought we’d end up. As I said…life really does have a way of surprising you…sometimes in the very best of ways.