We were heading home from a long day of running errands the other day when Carson asked, out of the blue, “Wouldn’t it be great if we lived closed to Nana and Paw Paw? And Nanny and Papa? And Aunt Kate? And Uncle James and Aunt Melissa and Baby Riley? And we could see them all the time?”
He has no idea that at least a few times per week, I think the exact same thing.
I’ve made it no secret to everyone except my children that moving around so much has been very difficult for me. Moving over and over has often made me feel like a wanderer with no place to call home. The whole routine of getting new driver’s licenses, learning my way around each new city, and finding a good hairdresser every few years has been an adventure, but not always an adventure I wanted to take.
The hardest part about moving isn’t the lack of good stylist, though, it’s living so far from our family. Having given birth and taken care of two newborns with only a few weeks worth of help was daunting. I desperately needed a support network when Carson and Ella were babies, family that I could depend on to give me a moment’s peace or to give Tate and I a much needed night away. But it’s not just the babysitting that I wish we’d had, now that the kids are getting older, I feel sad for the things that they regularly miss.
They only just this summer went to their first baseball game at Busch Stadium. They don’t get to go spend the night at Nana’s house on a random Wednesday in the middle of summer. They don’t get to grow up with their cousins. They may never say, “I’m from Missouri.”
Despite the distance and the things that our family misses, I actually really like where we live. I’ve stopped holding my breath, waiting for the call for the next move, and have started to let myself think of Knoxville as home. We’ve even found our village, our friends.
One of the only reasons that I’ve been able settle in here is because of the friends we’ve made. They have helped me not to dwell on the family that we don’t have close-by, because like us, so many of them are far from home, too. We’ve all come to depend on one another–because that’s what a family does.
Adrienne is who I called when I need someone to watch Ella when I was on my way to Nashville for my half-marathon. Robyn is the friend who listened while I cried about my terrible morning and needing a break from the kids. Heather is the person who helped me look at Carson in a whole new light when I feared darkness. Sarah and her husband have shared meals with us on Thanksgiving and Easter. Jen, Jo, Amanda, Kate, and Amy held me up when I couldn’t hold myself up.
Our friends ARE our family and just like family, I don’t tell them enough what they each mean to me. It’s busyness that makes me forget to actually say the words, even though I continually thank my lucky stars that these people are my chosen family. They need to hear it, or even better read it, that they mean so much to me, so I’ve spent the last week writing little notes to them on Hallmark greeting cards.
Funny messages and inside jokes, and even a few serious sentiments, all to say “I couldn’t do this life without you. Thank you for being my family, my village.”
(top photo credit: Flickr)
Thanks so much to Hallmark for inviting me to be a part of their Life is a Special Occasion campaign this year. They provided me with greeting cards to send friends and gave me some of the words to say thank you.
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