I have been in Jerusalem exactly four weeks today. It sounds like nothing when you say it that way — scarcely enough time to adjust to the time difference and locate the bathroom. But from a different perspective, that’s about 10% of the academic year. Hmmm…10% seems more substantial, like we should have something to *show for* our time thus far. (Something other than a tan and blisters on my feet).

I find myself anxiously examining “how things are going.” Why can I never just live through something instead of benchmarking, evaluating, and processing it to death? No matter the experience, I always want to know the expected trajectory and then where I fall relative to that expected. For instance, my job used to involve working with a group of college students. On any particular day, I could have told you where exactly we were in the group dynamics cycle of “forming, norming, storming, performing.” Or when I showed up at the Birth Center in labor, I said to my midwife: “ok, based on my progress so far, exactly how long until we have the baby?” (It drove me crazy that the answer was, “it depends.” It always depended with pregnancy and childbirth).

I know there are “normal cycles” for cross-cultural adjustment. (I just Googled it and found a million graphics). But I have no idea where I fall on any of the graphs. My perspective on myself feels very murky these days. I’m watching myself and our little family adjusting to life here, and at some moments I’d say we are doing a pretty damn amazing job of it, and at other points we are just scraping by. I can’t even put my finger on what accounts for the difference. I guess, as I always still need to tell myself, that is “normal.”

About hilarymead

Taking two young kids, a great husband, and a whole lot of questions to Jerusalem for a year's sabbatical.
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3 Responses to 10%

  1. Suzanne says:

    I guess that kind of desire to locate yourself (oneself) comes from the absence of ordinary parameters. So I guess you are where you are: 10% through this in TIME, but who knows where in emotional growth, insight, experience, friends, geography, gustatory exposure, acquisition of historical perspective, religious ponderings, and ad hoc, on-the-fly, overseas parenting. oxox

  2. Margaret says:

    When I first became a mom, I lived, I mean LIVED for the baby’s check-ups. It was the only time I felt I got any sort of feedback or report card on how I was doing as a mom. (And anyone who has known me more than a few days can tell you just how important feedback is to my sense of self-worth. Pathetic, but true. What’s my grade? How am I stacking up?)

    Then there’s this: whenever Chris is deployed, there is an automatically-updating program that I run on my computer called the “Donut of Hope” which tells me what percent of the year (or the 15 months) is over, what percent is left to go. It both encourages and frustrates me. I always feel it takes 3 years for that damn thing to get to 10%. When it reaches the 50% mark, I rejoice to be going down the other side of the mountain while simultaneously panicking about all the year’s goals and “things left undone” thus far.

    I feel enormous empathy for the trial of watching time march on (fly… crawl…) and desperately wanting to know if it is being used “wisely.” I relate so much to the desire to have something to “show” for the time put in, be it a year of cultural immersion or getting used to the immeasurable task of mothering.

    Looking forward to the report from Jesus’s cribby. I love that little Margaret.

    This Margaret

    PS: I am so glad you Googled and found some sort of chart. Life is always better with a chart, graph, or schedule, even if you don’t know where you are.

  3. hilarymead says:

    Thanks for the support, and as usual you both are spot on. Margaret, how true! Baby growth charts are another great example of the need for benchmarking and feedback. And speaking of baby…how do you have time to read my blog with a THREE DAY OLD? Give that little Bronwen a kiss from me.

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