My husband and I love where we live, but it happens to be across the country from any of our family. And sometimes I wonder what it’d be like if we hadn’t moved away.
My husband and I are both from California, and that’s where all our families are from. But we live, with our 3 sons (and a baby girl on the way), all the way across the country in Florida.
It started in 2003, when we got married and moved out-of-state for my TV job. A few years later, we found ourselves in Florida, where I am a stay-at-home mom and my husband owns his own company. So, we could move back home if we wanted to, and a few years ago, we seriously considered it. We even spent 2 months in California, looking at homes for sale and touring neighborhoods.
But it came down to this: while we’d love to be closer to family, we have to be happy, inside, the other 23 hours of the day.
And for us, that’s here in Florida.
We love where we live, so we chose to stay.
But sometimes I wonder if we should’ve moved away.
On social media, I see loved ones, surrounded by family and laughs. As I scroll through their feed, sometimes I feel as if I’m standing on the street, peering into their living room windows. It looks so cozy and warm.
I picture myself in that photo.
I know I’d be there (if I wasn’t here). And my kids would be too.
It’s a lot easier to live away from family when you don’t have kids.
My kids ask to invite their cousins to every single birthday party. It makes me smile because it’s so sweet. But inside, it makes me ache.
Although we love it here, it’s hard to ignore. We are missing out on constant connection.
Sure, there’s Skype and FaceTime. There’s text and Facebook photos. There’s even Instagram stories.
But it’s arms-length.
It’s not sitting in your kitchen drinking coffee on Monday morning. It’s not coming to your kids’ school play or church baby dedication. It’s not picking your kids up from school because your dentist appointment went long.
It’s not hugs when someone dies, or tears of joy when that baby’s a few hours old. It’s text messages and photos on a phone.
Sure, it’s better than it used to be. But it’s not the same as if we hadn’t moved away.
But we did.
And we are here.
And, well… we love it here.
But we’ve struggled to find deep friendships. Real friends who go ‘all the way,’ all the time. We’ve been lucky enough to find a few good ones. But sometimes, we feel like we’re floating. Others have family here. (And yes, I do find myself sometimes grateful that I don’t have to face some of the sticky situations that come with having family around the corner.) And sometimes, I wonder what it’d be like.
To have family members a few minutes away, when we need a date night or are going to the hospital to birth a baby.
What it’d be like to not have to call a babysitter for back-to-school night, or when I have morning sickness.
To be able to show up at your kitchen when I need to vent, and I don’t have to explain myself. Because no context is needed.
We’ve watched friends move away from here, to “go back home” and be closer to family. At first, we thought they were crazy. (Because again, we love it here.) But now, their Facebook feeds are full of cousin love and time with grandma and great-grandma. Easy family memories with multiple generations, that didn’t take months of planning. Instead, everyone just showed up on the porch, and it became an event.
My immediate family (my parents and 3 other siblings) haven’t been all together in almost 2 years. I haven’t met my baby nephew, who’s already 1. No one in California has seen our youngest, who’s nearly two and a half.
Although I know parts of it would be hard and complicated and stressful, sometimes I fantasize about what it would be like if we hadn’t moved away.
In truth, I don’t know what it would be like and don’t pretend to.
But, I think I would feel… wholly taken care of. Cared for, in a way that only comes from a network of those who have known you your whole life. Those who love you because, well… they have to. They’re related to you. And then, that huge network of “those others.” Those who go to Bible study with your grandma and ran into your mom at Costco yesterday. Those who coat you in support, whether you like it or not, because they’ve known you since before you could talk. And they’ve known your family even longer.
No, I don’t regret moving away.
But sometimes, I wonder what life would be like if we hadn’t.