I’m excited to introduce you to Kate Motaung and share a giveaway of her new book “A Place to Land.” It’s an amazing memoir that will resonate with you. Here’s a parenting connection she made with principles from Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind.
Here’s Kate’s story. Read more to find out how to win a copy of her book!
When I made the decision to marry a South African man and live in Cape Town, South Africa indefinitely, I knew the personal consequences of the choice I was making. I knew it meant I would dearly miss my family and friends in my hometown in Michigan. I would miss birthday celebrations, weddings, baby showers, funerals. I would miss Thanksgiving and the opportunity to have a white Christmas.
I knew the ache that distance would cause in my own heart, but when I voiced my vows during our wedding ceremony, I hadn’t thought ahead to the ways in which my decision would impact any children that might come from our cross-cultural marriage.
Fast forward several years, and my husband and I now have three children. They were all born in South Africa. In Cape Town, we moved from rental to rental, at one stage living in four different houses within a span of two years. One of those residences belonged to some American missionary friends who asked us to housesit their furnished home for a year while they went on furlough to the States.
Shortly after moving in, my husband discovered that their mattress wasn’t good for his back. We decided to move it out to the garage in favor of a different one. As we lugged the mattress through the hallway, our four-year-old son was playing with Matchbox cars on the floor. He barely glanced up at us then asked nonchalantly, “Are we moving again today, Mom?”
My chest sank. What kind of life was I giving to my children, if they had to ask, “Are we moving again today?” I wanted my kids to have a sense of home, a sense of stability, a sense of belonging — not the constant question mark in their minds, “I wonder where we’re going to live next month?”
In the meantime, my side of the family all lived in the U.S. We had the wonderful opportunity to visit the States as a family when my mom was battling cancer. We soaked in every moment, capturing memories with cameras and hearts. But of course, all good things come to an end. Eventually we had to say goodbye.
The physical wrenching apart of loved ones felt torturous. My kids cried. I cried. How could I do this to them? Back in Cape Town after six weeks in Michigan, a cloud of sadness hung over our house.
My kids keenly felt the pangs of distance, and it was my fault. I had done this to them. Just like me, they no longer knew where they belonged. Just like me, they had loved ones and desires on both sides of the Atlantic. I wanted to take the pain away for them. I wanted them to live happily and carefree, without strain and tension in their souls.
But is that really my job as their parent?
In the chapter called Don’t Steal the Struggle of her book, Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind, author Brenda L. Yoder taught me an important parenting lesson: Don’t steal the struggle from your kids. Let them wrestle through their own issues on their own. Be there for them, yes. Support them, yes. But don’t try to take the pain away—it’s theirs to learn from and grow through, with God’s help.
Brenda writes, “Stealing the struggle from your kids isn’t the answer. Equipping them for life’s challenges is.”
Challenges will come. In fact, Jesus guarantees it when He says, “In this world you will have trouble . . .” (John 16:33a). But God has a purpose for our pain.
As Brenda points out, “God doesn’t shield us from pain; he is with us in it.”
This is such an important truth.
I’ve since learned that moving frequently and having our hearts stretched across the Atlantic can be spiritually beneficial. Living with a sense of temporary residency and not feeling settled in any one particular place can actually be helpful to those who believe in Jesus. By not establishing deep roots in this life, we have greater freedom to eagerly anticipate the life to come.
It’s okay if we don’t feel settled here, because we’re not supposed to. It’s okay if we don’t feel like we belong, because we don’t.
So every now and then I’ll chat with my kids about how hard it is to always be missing someone, no matter where we live. We talk about the ache and we talk about the homesickness, and we nod our heads as we realize that it’s okay—because we’re not Home yet.
And one day, for those who trust in Christ, there will be no more goodbyes, no more tears, no more distance separating us. It will be one glorious reunion in the presence of the greatest One of all. We won’t wonder where we belong, because we’ll be home.
Read more of this story in Kate’s memoir, A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging. Pre-order now on Amazon. To enter the drawing of the book, comment about one item in her story that connected with you! The drawing will be open through April 4.
If you’d like to join the Fledge Parent Forum about topics relating to letting go of your kids, find out more here!
Kate Motaung is the author of A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging (2018), A Start-Up Guide for Online Christian Writers, and Letters to Grief. She is the host of Five Minute Friday (fiveminutefriday.com), an online community that encourages and equips Christian writers, and owner of Refine Services (refineservices.com), a company that offers writing, editing, and digital marketing services. Kate blogs at Heading Home (katemotaung.com) and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.