Brave Mama Abroad: Part Two

We’re back at it again! Laura is sharing more of her story today. And it’s fine…we can all admit it, no one wants to hear from me today 🙂 Everyone wants to hear more from Laura…sooo LET’S GO!

How many times have you lived abroad?

We are currently wrapping up our 9th year playing overseas! Wow! I can hardly believe that. My husband has truly worked so hard through these years and it’s been an amazing journey to stand by his side. It gets lonely, for sure, but it’s always been worth it.

We did one season apart because the school system wasn’t good, homeschooling wasn’t an option at the time, and the weather was just blistering cold. This was definitely our hardest year! It was hard because the kids and I were comfortable back home, but we weren’t together as a family. We traveled back and forth that year so much and it was extremely draining on all of us. It was another year of growth and we soon realized our family being together is far more important than anything else. We vowed to never do that again!

I’ve really learned during these 9 years the importance of marriage and family, and for that, I’m forever grateful. It can be hard uprooting your life and coming abroad to support your husband’s dreams. If I’m TOTALLY keeping it real – there have been plenty of days I would get resentful. I see him traveling and doing the things he loves and I would feel “stuck.” Several days I have to move past the self-pity and realize this is the life WE chose together for our family. I wouldn’t change it for anything. Nothing in life is always easy and glamorous, but when you’re with the ones you love it’s worth it.

 

What do you do for school for your kiddos?

This is actually the most frequent question I get! Our oldest has been the only one who has attended an international school in Turkey. Now that they are all getting to those ages we have been doing homeschooling. Two things I’ve learned from that – 1. I’m not cut out to be a homeschool parent. 2. Teachers are way underpaid!

We make it work, but ideally, we try and select a city/team that has a school option for all of them. That’s what works best for us.

What’s the MOST fun thing about living abroad & being a mom?

Seeing the world and sharing these memories with our kids! How many people can say they’ve jumped into the Mediterranean Sea or walked the same streets as Jesus did? We remind our kids daily that these are incredible blessings. They’ve been so blessed to experience the things that they have. Showing them different cultures and embracing those cultures – that’s something they’ll never learn sitting in school. They’ve been able to give and help those in poverty, cheer their dad on in huge stadiums, try every food possible, and live amongst so many different languages. It’s funny because they walk around our house speaking their own language to each other (it’s usually a mixture of Turkish and now Italian). They aren’t saying anything at all, but how cool that they play that way?! I mean just in those moments I see the impact this is having on them.

Being a stay at home mom abroad or in the states is one of the most rewarding but hardest jobs on the planet. I’ll stand by that statement forever! It’s a huge blessing watching my kids grow up and not missing the moments, but let me tell ya…it’s HARD to never miss a moment too. 24/7 with your kids can be draining! Most of the time we don’t have a sitter overseas. That literally means every waking moment it’s me and the kids.

I’ve found for myself I need a good hour of ME TIME every day. I really try my best to do this daily – it’s how I stay sane. I enjoy working out because it helps me feel my best! I love to throw my headphones on and just get at it. Not thinking about the household needs, kids, or things that need to be done. Just time for ME! Again, I love my kids SO much, but it’s so important for moms to fill up their own cup. As soon as I touch back down on American soil I want to arrange a babysitter and go have a weekend getaway with my husband! It’s so needed and so refreshing. That’s probably our most favorite part about this life!

What’s the HARDEST thing about living abroad & being a mom?

Being a mom without a support system like babysitters, family & close friends. That’s our hardest challenge!

I think the more obvious reasons are the language barrier, learning a whole new city/culture. Every year I feel like we get it all down pat and then it’s time to go home!

This life can be challenging at times. We are completely removed from the “fast pace life.” Back in the states, everything is so convenient; friends, family, fast food (I will never not take advantage of this again!), English language, familiarity, our home, etc.

Other hard moments are without a doubt are when Justin travels for a week or more and then I’m really home alone with the kids. The week feels like a month. We try and find activities to do but it’s hard with 4 right now. Once the baby gets a little older it’ll be so much easier!

What’s the most favorite place you’ve lived abroad?

This one is hard! I would have to say Israel. It’s absolutely amazing! Aside from all of the biblical history, the weather, food, the atmosphere is unreal. That has been our favorite place to live and just explore.

We are really enjoying Italy this year too! The wine, food, living on the island, weather, beach, and so much more. Italy will be hard to beat!

We are currently playing in Sassari, Italy. We’ve actually been to 7 countries total! Slovakia, Turkey, China, Russia, Israel, Kazakhstan, and Italy.

You guys…this gal – I mean she literally just blows my mind! I don’t know how she does it. Last week when I posted Part One, SO many people showed up to encourage her & I just can’t help but smile from ear to ear. It makes my heart so happy to know that people are reading her story & are sharing words of encouragement & affirmation with her! That’s exactly why I wanted to start this blog in the first place, to build each other up & to empower each other on our own individual, unique journey.

Thanks for stopping by, friends!

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Photo Credit: Professional photos by Chase Vanderveen Photography

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