If anyone ever had a support system, it was this mom, in the mountains of India. When we decided to stay and seek emotional, mental health in the midst of life and work overseas, we knew something would have to change. It wasn’t one thing. It was a hundred little things that made the difference.
Like standing in a deep dark hole, you look around, and the Spirit of God draws your attention to crutches lying all around to pick up and lean on, to begin to slowly climb out of your hole.
Crutches (I never knew this could be a good thing!) in the form of friends, strangers, habits, preschool teachers, audio books, coloring books, counselors, doctors, visiting parents, flower pots and window boxes, a blog. My neighbor the nanny, masseuse, informant, educator, and watchman. She had a spare key and let us in when we lost keys. She came to tell us when our scooter keys were still in the ignition, when we had left the dryer running indefinitely, when there was a band of monkeys waiting outside the front door. Our friends who helped us out at the coffee shop. Who made cupcakes for my husband’s birthday for me, who essentially carried out my daughter’s large 1 year birthday party in my home (a cultural requirement), who spent the night with me when my husband traveled. My grocer who let us build up a massive tab when the government decreed all cash useless and the entire nation was in a financial crisis. Our guy friends who ran errands for us or added minutes to my phone when I ran out.
There were so many challenges and triggers for me personally in that season with babies/toddlers in small-town-Himalayas, and I built up this massive support system—like layers and layers of scaffolding, thousands of stories high.
A few weeks ago I was cleaning my beautiful kitchen island (with a sink, dishwasher, and garbage disposal!!!!), and I felt that familiar lost feeling.
And right then I realized that I had lost my support system. An imperfect, quirky one designed for rustic living in Asia, but an intricate support system that worked.
I began to see that one of my tasks in relocating is to build our new support system for where we are now, both in a new location, and also in a different emotional state.
I no longer need someone to stay with me if my husband is traveling. I’m stronger mentally, and my kids are a little older.
But what I do need is a neighbor who texts that my garage door got left open, friends to go to the park and take walks with, a sister to call when I’m freaking out, a grandma to come give me gardening advice. I need a friend to babysit so my husband and I can go on a date (the first one in 2 months!). And I need a new routine, a grocery plan, and two hours of solitude a day.
Yup, that’s what I said. Two hours. No one can make me feel guilty for this because I’m starting to understand everyone benefits from my time alone! So I’m sticking to it, and believing I can continue making it happen almost every day!
If there’s one thing lacking in the American culture that I see, it’s the ability to lean on each other. To acknowledge our need for a support system. It takes accepting the goodness and grace of others. It takes being indebted to one another. This is normal for many cultures but makes Americans so very uncomfortable.
Today, I encourage each one of us to look around and accept that help and that grace that we need. Everyone of us needs a few crutches.