Our first 3 and a 1/2 years were spent living in an old duplex in Zeeland, Michigan. We rented out the top unit to a stream of interesting tenants and even had my brother living above us for a while. Tyson was brought home from the hospital to this house, our tiny baby boy. When Tyson was a little over a year, we moved into what we thought was our forever home in Hudsonville. We were expecting Jori, so obviously, we needed a house with more bedrooms and more bathrooms before our second child arrived! We lived on Elm Avenue for a little over 5 years and then had the crazy idea to move to South Africa. So we sold our forever home and moved into an apartment for 4 months before getting on a plane and heading into the wild unknown.
In just over a week, we will celebrate 5 and 1/2 years in South Africa. We've lived on three properties in that time, our latest home has been our landing spot for less than a year. Our years here have had moments of great beauty and great pain, but if we had remained in the states this would have also been true. There are times when I listen to Tyson and Jori express their feelings that life in America would be So, Much. Better. than the life they are living here. This usually happens after seeing pictures of cousins enjoying time together or old friends making new memories that we would have been a part of if only we'd stayed where we were.
Yet I know that there are aspects of our life here that most likely wouldn't be the same if we had remained in one spot. Tyson and Jori have always been friends, but living in a place where they often only have each other has strengthened their bond as brother and sister, but more than that, they are friends. This doesn't mean they are free from the usual sibling squabbles and teasing, but the way they can make each other laugh... I wish I could bottle it up for the moments when they are screaming bloody murder at each other while getting ready in the morning and just blast the sound of pure, unadulterated joy into their ears and minds and hearts. Remember your love for each other my sweet children. You two, who I thought would surely have other siblings at this time to grow up with and grow old with. Until God tells us something different, it will be you two only, so hang on to each other!
I am a mom who says no, probably more often than I should with regards to some things, but there are areas where saying no is so easy for me and my counterparts in the states have to struggle against the pressure put on them by the media and their peers and all of the incessant pleas of their children that "Everyone else has one except for me" and "All of my friends are going so why can't I". Our kids are free from most media input, as we don't have any network TV and their access to the Internet is pretty limited as we don't like parting with our laptop and we haven't given them the password to use wifi on other devices. That doesn't mean they don't have an awful lot of screen time, but it is usually in the form of DVDs or TV shows we've downloaded with no commercials. We live far enough off the beaten path that getting too involved in extra curricular programs is something we can pretty easily avoid.
Tyson and Jori fill their days begging to walk to the tuck shop to buy a baggie full of sweeties for 10 Rand, which at less than a $1 isn't a bad way to spend their allowance. They also jump rope, going outside to play with neighborhood kids if they happen to be passing by. They'll even go out and play with our big baby, Nala, when she isn't sleeping. Nala, the dog we promised them before we moved to South Africa. It only took 4 and a 1/2 years of living here for us to keep our promise to them! Or they watch movies, play on the iPad often hanging all over each other as they take turns until one of them, usually Jori, remembers that she doesn't like her brother hanging all over her and just like that the peace and quiet is broken and they are fighting and I am doing my best to ignore the noise as I just have too much to do and not enough time to do it! They usually make up pretty quickly, and when they don't, I end up with 2 clean bathrooms and all of my laundry folded and put away, so it's not all bad!
I am a different woman living here in a foreign country than I would be if we had never gotten on that plane so long ago. My experiences here have shaped me as a wife, mother and friend. I am sure that not all of the differences in me are good. There are parts of my life here that consume me and take my focus off of working on the inner me. I am often too busy, running through my days at a pace that only seems crazy when I have crashed on the sofa early in the evening, unwilling to even get up and make supper for my family. "Have a sandwich, eat some cold cereal, make yourself some oatmeal. Just let me be". Not exactly mothering at its finest, but then again, my kids and husband are all pretty laid back and go with the flow people. Maybe this wouldn't be the case if we were living the typical life of a family in West Michigan.
Then there's this guy. My main man, Darin Fey. I do not know what I would do without him. OK, there are days where I am frustrated with him, so I drink the last of his Pepsi Max or treat him in a less than loving way, even accusing him of choosing other people and projects over me and his own children. How could we ever doubt his love? This man who carries the burden of supporting us, who loves us all even when we are acting slightly insane, my dear husband who survived a brain bleed a mere half year ago. I often feel like I am running on empty, but I don't know how Darin keeps up with all of the things that get put on his plate. Even when he is surely feeling just as fried as I am, he is mostly positive and even keeled. I'm not going to paint him as perfect, because he and I both know that simply isn't true, but he is perfect for me and he is the best dad to Tyson and Jori.
The four of us Feys are getting ready to face whatever 2017 has in store for us. Together.