“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
by: Kerri Young
When we first arrived in our new home in the Middle East we were, as can be expected, a little overwhelmed.
Life is different here. Not different bad. Just different.
We traded our yard and white picket fence (literally) for a fourth story flat with three balconies (which we love!). I exchanged my mini-van for public transportation in the form of a taxi, bus and Metro, which I will write about in another post sometime soon. We cannot buy brown sugar, vanilla extract, macaroni and cheese, pop tarts, most breakfast cereals, fruit snacks or shredded cheese at the grocery store (and those are just a few of the things we are missing). Our language skills, and thus our ability to communicate effectively with the local people, are on par with my two year old’s ability to communicate with us. But, we are learning….slowly.
In a nutshell, everything just takes a lot more thought and requires about twice the amount of time it did when we were in the states. We have to think ahead and allow ample time to accomplish anything. Add that to the stresses of being exhausted, overwhelmed, homesick, and trying to set up a home in a foreign country without the ease of a vehicle to transport all our new household goods, and you have the perfect storm of every child’s dream: parents who let you do things you don’t normally get to do. That’s why for the first six weeks we were here my children had Cocoa Puffs for breakfast every morning.
For the record, I absolutely LOVE cereal. Any kind of cereal. Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Apple Jacks, Frosted Flakes, and even the healthy ones like Raisin Bran and Grape Nuts. But when we were still in the states I did not make it a regular habit to allow my children the pleasure of eating sugary cereal on a daily basis. (I saved the sugary cereal for myself and ate it for a late night snack.) =) Because that’s what “good moms” do.
So, the fact that my kids were eating Cocoa Puffs for breakfast for six weeks straight kind of stressed me out at first, even though I was physically and mentally incapable of doing anything about it at that point because I was just SO EXHAUSTED. My margins were stretched to the max in every direction, but that didn’t stop the mommy guilt from setting in. As we stumbled out of bed each morning to face a new day and I poured another bowl of Cocoa Puffs, the voice inside my head would scream accusatorily, “Cocoa Puffs?!? Again?!? Your children need a healthier breakfast than that! Your friends back home would be appalled!”
Yet, the Cocoa Puffs continued until one day, without even being cognizant of it, I woke up and the newness of our surroundings had worn off a little. I wasn’t quite so overwhelmed anymore. My house was mostly in order. I had quite a few successful trips to the grocery store under my belt and I was able to find some easy breakfast recipes (with ingredients I could find here) I could quickly conquer in the morning. Miraculously, our need for Cocoa Puffs disappeared and my kids didn’t even complain (though I would be lying if I said they don’t still ask for Cocoa Puffs when we see them at the store).
I tried not to think about it and certainly didn’t make it common knowledge until our friends moved here in late July with their three girls. After they had been here for a week or so, I had a conversation with her in which she admitted her kids were eating Cocoa Puffs for breakfast every morning. =) Oh, the joy and light that filled my heart with her confession. I couldn’t help but laugh and ease her mommy guilt by admitting I had done the exact same thing for the first six weeks after we arrived.
That’s when the Holy Spirit whispered an invaluable truth in my heart: it’s okay to feed your kids Cocoa Puffs for breakfast every morning if that’s all you can manage, for a season.
What wonderful comfort and peace that realization has provided me! As moms, I think we are unfairly hard on ourselves when life’s circumstances prevent us from being the moms we wish we could –or sometimes used to– be. Instead of wallowing in self-pity or guilt when uncontrollable situations have us stretched thin, I suggest we need to do two things:
- Put aside what the world tells us is best for us and our kids and stop worrying about what people will think.
- Allow ourselves room to breathe and REVEL in GRACE if we aren’t operating at 100 percent for a season.
Precious reader, whatever it is you think you are failing miserably at today, it will pass. And, in the meantime, God’s grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9). Before you know it, those Cocoa Puffs will only be a thing of legends…
Disclaimer: Excuse the cheesy video. My husband recorded some footage of our youngest expertly feeding himself Cocoa Puffs, so I had some fun with it and thought I’d share because it made me smile. (And to prove that I wasn’t kidding. See that chocolatey milk in the bowl? My kids really DID eat Cocoa Puffs for six weeks straight!) =)