I’ve heard two things recently that I want to address. The first was when I was chatting on-line with an old friend I haven’t talked to in years. She says she loves keeping up with me on facebook and stuff, and at one point she said something like, “It’s so great to see you following your dreams.” This left me completely speechless at the time. Eventually, I was able to answer her, but I have to tell you it was strange. “Is that what people think?” Was all I thought.
I am not living my dream. If I were living my dream, I would be a stay-at-home mom with plenty of time to write. If you would have told me ten years ago I would be living in China, I would have laughed in your face. That certainly wouldn’t have been a part of any dream I had. From all I learned, read, and knew, China would be THE LAST place I would live. In a way, this is a good thing, because I have learned that my previous prejudices were completely wrong.
The other thing I hear about ten times a day, everyday, is, “You’re such a great mom, a supermom, I don’t know how you do it, etc.” I hear this from my students, usually the ones who are mothers. They can’t understand single mothers who actually take care of their own children. They can’t even imagine how hard it is financially. And home-schooling is way beyond them.
Here’s my answer to both of these things. I am just surviving. I am doing whatever I can to keep mine and my girls’ heads above water. Every day I am treading water just to keep from drowning. There is no long-term goal. I’m just trying to get through each week. There is no choice or decision in this. My first job is to provide a home and food for my girls, however I can. I need to keep them in clothes, and hope they don’t need to go to a doctor when I’m low on money. And hope nothing horrible happens to me to leave them stranded. Our life is precarious.
I home-school them, because if they went to school I would never see them. And I hate Chinese schools, and consider them a form of child abuse. And if I want them to go to any American university I need them to be able to pass the SAT in English. It’s my responsibility. It was my responsibility since they were born: home, food, clothes, education, all of that. If I did not have this responsibility, I may not even be here in China.
Some Christians wear a cross necklace, some Jewish people wear the Star of David, Buddhists in Thailand wear a Buddha or a monk, and the idea is that is it is always there in the forefront as the guide for daily life. I have a silver necklace of a mother and two children. I got it shortly after I became a single mother. This is the reason I make every decision, every single one. This is the reality.