June 16, 2011 by themommahen
I’ve been thinking a lot about Chicago lately. Maybe five months is the magic number of months to catch you between your old and new lives. Maybe it’s because we just ended my favorite time of year here in NC and my favorite time in Chicago is just starting getting ready to start. Or it could be because of our recent road trip, where we came within 3 hours (if you drive fast, 3-and-a-half with traffic, 4 if you’re really taking your time or get caught on the Dan Ryan) of our adopted hometown without going there. That’s when it really hit me. I don’t live there anymore. This isn’t a vacation. This is our life.
It’s funny – I was really looking for a reason, an excuse, to go there for a day trip on Sunday. Of Memorial Day weekend. When I lived there, I was never there on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, and most of my friends weren’t either. And why would I even think about making an additional trip of 200 miles…with three kids…by myself…I must have lost my mind for a minute.
Maybe it’s because I’m watching my daughter struggle to make friends in awkward moments at playgroups and play dates and feeling completely guilty for taking her away from her very best friend in the whole world that she met on her own at the park by our house when she was barely even a year old. Or maybe that’s me. The awkward moments at playgroups and playdates, not the best-friend-at-the-park-when-I-was-one story. Though I do miss my friends. Don’t get me wrong, I still have some good friends here that have known me FOR EV ER, which is cool. But of course I miss the friends I made during my adult years, the ones who think it’s cute when I slip in a “y’all” or some Southern saying they’ve never heard before. My friends here have much cuter accents than I do.
Whatever the reason, I’ve been a little homesick for Chicago recently, and the kids have been too. We’ve been talking about the Cubs and the restaurants we used to go to and H#1’s old school and our old park and our old house (technically our current house as it’s still on the market, *sigh*). We’ve laughed about things that happened there and wished we could talk to/email/Skype old friends and we’ve gone through old pictures.
Then yesterday I got several reminders about why we did this. When H#2 wrapped himself around my legs today just because. When H#3 laughed himself silly because I know just where to tickle him. When H#1 brought me my daily drawing of rainbows, fairies and flowers.
So I started thinking about the obvious three reasons we made this move, and came up with a few more:
Because the hatchlings have turned into botanist-slash-biologist-slash-ornithologists and now think nothing of letting me know when they see a mockingbird. Or a robin. Or a wren. And show me hickory nuts and dogwood blossoms. Or tellme when the chickens are in the butterfly bush or the honeysuckle or the yellowbells. And they’re almost always right.
Because they are surrounded by wonders every day.
Because they have lightning bugs for a night light now and they have a YARD to catch them in.
Because H#1 got her fairy garden
Because they have chickens. And because they can tell you what kind of chickens we have, and they’re the only ones who can pick them up without a lot of trauma and drama.
Because they now know how hay is grown, mowed, raked and baled.
Because they now have grandparents nearby (very nearby, mind you) to teach them life lessons, both silly and serious. And they all get to enjoy each other now instead of missing out on these good years.
Because they are no longer afraid of bugs. In fact they love to pick them up and feed them to their chickens.
Because we planted a small vegetable garden and lots of flowers.
Because they’re starting to understand where the food they eat comes from, and why that’s important.
Because they have a pool to go to where other people keep an eye on them even though I’m right there.
Because this place looks like an arboretum.
Because we get to wear cowboy hats.
Because every once in a while a hot air balloon lands in our field.
Because I get to be home with the hatchlings for a while.
Because the husband gets to be a farmer. And a coach. And I love him for taking on the paycheck duties for a bit. (I love him for more reasons than that. And he looked snazzy this morning. Just trust me.)
Because we didn’t want to be forced to choose between city schools and suburban living. (Burbs are great if you have family nearby. We didn’t.)
Because we were tired of every vacation being a trip to see family.
Because these reasons are just the tip of the iceberg.
Because we’ll all make friends and be okay.
Before we moved, I used to have nightly conversations with the kids about the move – why we were moving, how they felt about it, if they were sad, scared, or whatever. I thought it was important for them to be able to talk about it and that it was my responsibility to prepare them as best I could, even though I felt completely unprepared myself. I don’t remember most of what I said, but I remember so clearly their fears and hopes.
Fears like never being able to make friends and whether or not there would be tumbling or soccer in NC, and never seeing Nancy and Amma (their sitters) again, and missing all our Illinois family, and where would they go to school, and never getting to go to the restaurant with all the guitars again. Hopes like living next to one of my best friends from forever who has 11yo and 13yo daughters that my kids ADORE, and being near my brother and his hatchling son, and living in Granny and Gramps’ house because they have the best toys. What I remember saying to them is, “Home isn’t a place, it’s just wherever we are as a family. That’s home. So we’ll be fine as long as we all have each other.” I don’t know where those words came from, whether it’s something I pulled out of my past from somewhere, whether it was a Hallmark card, a family movie special, actual words of wisdom from my own parents, or a message from a higher power. I don’t know.
But I keep holding on to it.