Last week I wrote about raising children overseas, but my 500 words ended before I could explain the magic behind success. Ready? It’s the Spirit of the Woman.
I don’t make this claim lightly. I’ve learned a lot living and traveling overseas. When the woman of the family has a positive, can-do attitude, it sets the tone. When she has spirit, everyone benefits—in the home and on the road.
When I think of the American women I have known overseas, I think leadership. I think smart, classy, humanitarian, clever, spirited. I’ve marveled at the strength of female ambassadors and heads of major international development projects. I’ve volunteered with well educated women who could not find employment so they initiated humanitarian projects. Spirited Women adapt. Some use their unemployment time as artists and writers. Others educate themselves about the local culture and then share their expertise with new arrivals. Spirited Women get involved. They find a role.
Look at the military wife. What a huge burden is laid on her shoulders. And she carries it. While the husband is away using his strength in combat, she uses an equal strength to the manage the home and the kids on a tight budget often in a foreign country. And then be active in the community as well.
Sadly, I appreciate the strength most when I see the other side. As the Community Liaison Officer of a US Embassy in Asia, one of my jobs was to support the less adaptable. One newcomer began obsessing on her kitchen cabinets. They were too high, the color was wrong, no one had cleaned them. She wanted a new house. But the other available homes were too small for her taste. As I tried to help immerse her in the community—find her role besides complainer-in-chief—I would overhear her decrying the cabinet situation to anyone—everyone. One sympathetic listener suggested she hire a taller cook. Hmm. But she wasn’t into problem-solving. Soon her whole family fixated on the cabinets, so much so that they left all other doors closed.
I’m sure you’ve heard those corny platitudes about attitudes. Well, they’re true. The woman’s positive attitude is crucial for family success, especially when meeting the unusual challenges of living and traveling in foreign countries. It’s a big responsibility. My husband constantly says, “Here’s what you did when the going got tough: you didn’t panic; you didn’t quit; you set the kids up before yourself; you managed the problems; you sang, you taught, you volunteered; you discovered what was interesting and shared it. You turned on the lights when it was dark.”
Does he give me too much credit—probably. But I will take credit for one thing: a spirit of let’s-get-on-with-it. There’s too much magic in the world to stop moving now.