Why September Is Not My Favorite Month
Sep 22, 2020 | 5 min read | Trisha Wynn
My stomach flip-flopped as I read the email: “‘Back to School’ parent meeting Thursday evening at 17:00.” Oh joy.
It’s that time of year again where my pride gets a good reality check and I realize anew that I did not grow up in the Slovene school system. I am a second-culture parent. I was raised on chocolate milk and pizza on Fridays in the cafeteria. Plenty of sticker charts, marble jars, lots of encouragement, and pats on the back as I coasted through the American elementary school system.
My children, on the other hand, have only experienced school in the Slovene language—wearing slippers inside the school building, shame-based classroom management, fish Fridays in the cafeteria, and Nutella (or patte) on bread with tea for snack.
I am raising third-culture kids. They are growing up in a culture that is not the one their parents were raised in. This is a great thing. I love this. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I just might skip the first month of school.
Basically, every September I realize again that I am the foreign mom. The one on the outside. The one who doesn’t really understand the whole picture. The one who bravely smiles through the parent meeting only to leave having understood about 70% of the agenda. It’s painful, it’s humbling, and it’s exactly where I am supposed to be—on the outside.
September used to be my favorite month. I would decorate my own classroom and excitedly welcome a new group of students into my own little kingdom. I taught elementary school for a long while before we moved to Slovenia, and I was pretty good at it. I knew the school culture inside and out. I knew what to expect. If we were still living in the States, I’m sure I would either be teaching again or be serving my fifth term as PTA President. Either way, I would be on the inside.
But I live here and I am the outsider mom.
My kids wear shorts for approximately one month longer than anyone else in the country.
I serve my family Mexican food twice a week.
We eat guacamole and watch the Broncos on our day off.
I make multiple trips to the bookstore to finally track down the right school supplies.
I google translate permission slips before I sign them.
I take my kids out of school for two days in November so we can celebrate Thanksgiving with our JV teammates.
I hug when I’m supposed to shake hands.
I forget my Slovene words when I get excited.
I have to ask another mom to help me understand the agenda during the parent meeting.
However, I am also a Christian mom.
Our family talks about repentance and forgiveness because we sin against each other a lot.
We (sometimes) have Bible time together.
I tell the Slovene kids that come over to play that they can’t use the same expletives they hear in the movies in our home.
I help my kids question the evolution lessons that are taught regularly at school.
We name lies that are sinking into my kids’ hearts.
We pray together.
Thankfully, I am not only an outsider mom or a Christian mom; I am also a daughter of the King. I am loved, cared for, and delighted in by my heavenly father. He knows how uncomfortable it is to leave the safety of “the inside.” He knows full well what it was like to be an outsider. To not fit in or say the right things.
I think he might even get a kick out of my attempts at being right where I am.
So I will walk through another September holding my heavenly father’s hand. It won't be perfect. Chances are, much of it won’t be pretty. My second culture-ness will continue to bump into (and probably embarrass) my resilient third-culture kids. I will remind myself again that as long as I am abiding in Christ, I am on the inside and the outside at the same time.
If you need me, I’m probably still at the bookstore.
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