I've often said that the hardest thing about living overseas is watching my kids adjust back-and-forth between American and Italian cultures. Whether at school, at home, traveling, at play, however it manifests itself, it is the hardest thing for me to accept about cross-cultural ministry. Today, I was able to pinpoint one of the triggers for this sentiment.
I've recently begun jogging again, thanks to the promptings of my teammate, Brian. We drive up to the Cittadella park and jog around for 30 minutes. It is a beautiful setting: a park on the top of a hill overlooking the city inside the walls of an ancient fort. There are lots of families with kids at the playground and people laying on the grass or walking around. As we were jogging this evening, I saw two grandparents sitting on a bench, baby grandchild in a stroller. They just sat there together, smiling, looking at their grandchild...no hurry, no rush, just enjoying the cool, summer evening with their grandchild.
While our parents do a good job of keeping in touch and showering us with love, both while we are away and 'at home', it is a gut check every time I see it. It makes the times when we do return to the U.S. that more special, that more important. It pushes us to pack in as much time and as many memories into those weeks and months as possible. It encourages us to be creative in how we communicate with grandmas and grandpas. In the end, it makes us grateful for having the kind of parents we want our kids to spend time with.