A Have or a Have-Not?

How I wish I could answer this question once and for all–clearly, concisely, maybe with a printed t-shirt so I could save my voice and the artificial smile I muster when the question(s) come.

How do you do it all?

Do you have any help?

How do you manage three kids by yourself?

Can you still homeschool with the baby around?

You cook?!?

I usually answer these questions with the same list of replies–and I try to keep the focus on the things I have:

–I have boys who are older now and do a lot of things for themselves

–I have my rocking chair next to the school tables so I can feed the baby while supervising lessons

–I have a part-time house cleaner

–I have a husband who does a lot of things around the house and with the children

–I have good friends who come to my rescue when I need it

–I have a small cafe downstairs where I can buy food on days when cooking is difficult

–I have a dishwasher and a clothes dryer

Frankly speaking, I have many things and people that help and I have it a lot easier than many other people I know who don’t have all these things that I have. Many people, usually people who don’t know me that well, seem to view me as a have not. That is one thought-path I don’t want to walk down. No, I don’t have a full-time live-in maid. No, I don’t have a spotless home. No, I don’t have perfect control over my tongue when I’m at home with my children all day. And no, I don’t have perfectly behaved children…

But I am convinced, in the midst of the messes we all make, that this is right for our family, it is settled–settled in the deep place in a way that makes me able to say truthfully that I like being home with my children and I enjoy homeschooling.

I have so much.¬† Above all, I have¬† Grace, which covers me in the areas where I’m a have not.

Bebo says it best:


Can Do

Being a princess, if not the queen, of critical negative thinking, I find it quite natural to point out potential problems with any proposed idea. Just give me time and I can come up with at least 10 reasons why an idea won’t work (especially if it wasn’t my idea to start with). A couple of weeks ago I observed a situation that gave me pause–it made me laugh at first, but later I realized I could learn something even from the air conditioner serviceman.

Two servicemen came to our flat that day to have a look at the air conditioners that had been out of commission for about a year. Whenever we have servicemen come to our home when my husband is not around, I just hope and pray their English is good enough for me to get the gist of whatever they need to tell or ask me without me having to launch into my horrendous Mandarin. The lead man seemed to be conversant enough, although I did have to ask him to repeat a couple of things that weren’t clear.

When it came time for him to write up the service report, here’s what happened: First, he phoned his office and explained in Mandarin what the problem was and what he’d done to fix it. Next, the office staff sent a text message to his phone which he was to copy on the service report for the customer. It was quite a lot to write for someone who’s not confident in the language, so he took a huge bite of humble pie and asked me if I could write it for him. To me it would have been humbling, but to him it seemed largely pragmatic. He knew I could write much faster than him and figured I wouldn’t mind doing this small thing to help him out.

After he left I was thinking “What a system!” It seemed like a crazy way to work to a person like me, who is used to being as self-sufficient as possible. But I couldn’t seem to muster up much criticism, which usually comes quite naturally to me. This company had a problem–they had men with good technical know-how, but poor language skills. Rather than not hire them (as I probably would have done), they found a way to make it work.

I could use a good dose of this “can do” attitude in many areas of my life.