Sometimes how you’ve changed sneaks up on you. I was driving the other day and saw a skinny teenage Caucasian boy riding his bike down the street, dressed all in black. What I noticed? “That boy needs his hair combed! (and some fattening up!)” As I rolled up to the stoplight, an equally young African American boy walked across the street, with a hair pick/comb stuck in his ‘fro. I thought “Well, at least he’s prepared!” I have become a Mother apparently, concerned with the tidyness of the boys of the world…..yikes.
I have a name for this new persona. “Mama Mumu”. Catchy, huh? It’s Nathan’s new nickname for me, based on my wonderful new wild mumu. I tell him it’s not ethnic… ‘cuz I bought it at Sears. 😛
Although… since I have lived in Hawai’i I can claim the mu’umu’u as part of my past (Nathan and I met in Maui and were married there). Or I can call it missionary training; Cameroon, where we’re looking right now, has traditional dresses that are very similar to mumus. And seriously, in a hot climate, mumus are just plain sensible.
I was pondering my past and how it shapes me after watching this video about TCK’s, or “Third Culture Kids.”
I decided to count up, time-wise, the places I’ve lived (so far). I was born in Singapore and have spent a total of 5 years there (split into two time periods, one as an toddler and one as an adult); grew up in Southern and Northern California and attended the University of CA, Santa Barbara for a current total of Cali time at ~21 years; lived in Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada for ~7 years; and lastly, in Maui 9 months or 3/4 year. So that makes me a Californian Canadian Singaporean Hawaiian. Legally, I’m an American and Canadian. I’ve studied four languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese) although I only speak the first two. Places I’ve visited but not lived in are Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Philippines and Norway. I’ve moved every 2-3 years of my life, except for my childhood, when I moved between parents twice a year. I don’t feel “rooted” anywhere, although I gave it a good shot when we bought our first house (complete with white picket fence that we put in! and painted red…now that was a topic of conversation in our small town for months! 😛 ). We eat food from all over the globe as a family; I like to call our tastes “eclectic.”
Essentially, to me, thinking about becoming a missionary is like thinking about being normal. I know one of the common TCK traits is the ability to blend into any culture, so that people are often shocked when they find out the TCK’s background; I don’t mind blending in normally but I guess one of the reasons I like wearing my mumu is to let people know I am different. Hopefully in a good way. 😀 At our recent anniversary dinner, Nathan told me that one of my college friends had approached him right before our wedding and said “You know Kathy’s weird, right?” He told me that that’s one of the things he likes about me. So I guess it’s ok being weird, different….after all, there are a lot of us TCK’s out there and I am raising four of them right now. 🙂
PS – for those of you curious about Nathan, he spent his childhood in northern British Columbia and on Vancouver Island (BC). As an adult, he spent time in Saskatchewan and Alberta. He’s travelled to Maui (a year), Philippines, Russia, the UK, and Poland (and now Mexico) – besides living in California now. But Nathan is and always will be a 100% Canadian….although he’s making horchata and wearing shorts now after a year of California inculturation. 🙂