freezing the {credit} cards

by Tina on May 4, 2012

in family, Travel

As you know, we believe in traveling as a family.  We have fully embraced our life abroad and are now actively raising three third culture kids, but not every day has been easy.  I remember the day we left the States for the first time.  I was only 22 and had a little baby on my hip as we set out on our great adventure to Spain.  The first few weeks were rough.  My college Spanish was not helping me at.all.  I could not understand a single thing that was being said to me!  With a harsh reality I realized that I was not the courageous person that I thought I was.  It had been a facade.  The whole thing.  I was like a new born kitten trembling in my own skin and I was utterly terrified to leave the comfort of our very uncomfortable hotel room. Neither Traveling Man or I wanted to admit that we were contemplating our sanity… Our friends who had gone before us had warned us to freeze the credit cards in a big block of ice in those first six months because the temptation to pull them out and buy a ticket home would be overwhelming.  And they were right.  Except our apartment was not ready for us to move in to and we had been living in a tiny hotel room with barely enough room for the bed and baby cot for three weeks.  We had one suitcase to survive out of and had to buy milk in mini cartons because there was no refrigerator in the room and certainly no freezer for our credit cards. We had always been so good about laughing at life and not taking ourselves too seriously, but as we stuck the jam out on the cold window sill hoping it would last until the next day for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches… well, the draw to quit was incredibly overwhelming.  And it wasn’t just the fact that we had eaten nothing but take out and PB&J for three weeks that was getting to us.  My guy knew I had studied Spanish in school and I felt the cumbersome burden of speaking and caring for our family suddenly drop upon my shoulders. As I laid in bed at night, rather than finding the comfort of my dreams where everyone spoke English, my eyes were wide open and I was clutching my chest with real fear.  What if my daughter fell down?  What if she started to choke?  What if my husband fell ill?  What if one of us died… and I had no idea how to even ask for help.  I didn’t even know how to call for an ambulance.  Suddenly living in a hotel room didn’t seem so bad.  At least I could run downstairs for help!  But we were going to have our own place soon… and we would be alone. I don’t know how we kept going, to be perfectly honest.  Sheer determination must have kicked in… that and the unwillingness to face the humiliation of having to go home and admit to every one of our family and friends that they were right. Somehow we found our way back to our sense of humor, learned a few key phrases in Spanish if an emergency arose, and recited the number for an ambulance like a dutiful kindergartner.  Sometimes it is still hard to raise kids in a foreign country but there have been so many good things that have come and the urge to thaw out the credit cards has lessened over the years.  There are still days when we rely on sheer determination, but with a little time, life just starts to feel normal and we just raise our kids just like everyone else does…

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