Ever since I was 14-years-old I’ve wanted to live abroad. A life of adventure called and it didn’t matter that it would mean leaving my family behind.
So in 2009 when Ryan and I waved ‘goodbye’ to parents and siblings as we boarded a plane with one-way tickets to Hungary I couldn’t have been happier. Though I knew I would miss our families I was ready for something completely different. I never understood why or how someone could live in the same state or town their whole life. Having moved several times growing up I didn’t value the stability and comfort being stationary provides. I wanted new streets, new faces, new everything.
A year-and-a-half later and still in Hungary I was (surprise!) pregnant. And not just pregnant, I was pregnant thousands of miles from home. I wanted my mom. I wanted all the familiarity I had forsaken. For the first time in my life I began to realize why people stay in their hometown, why they live in the same city as their parents. When everything gets turned upside down (even in a good way) there’s great value in the constants of life, to be surrounded by people who have known you for years, to be held in the arms of unconditional love and support of your parents.
But for many reasons we chose to stay and have our daughter in Hungary. It was wonderful.
A year and a bit after Eleanor was born I was pregnant again. This time in Canada and only a couple of thousand miles from home. It was exciting giving birth to our children in different countries and I was proud of myself for taking on the challenges it involved. As empowering and fun as having babies abroad is, one thing was missing: our kids were growing up far away from family.
When Edward was six months old we moved in with my in-laws, into the home where Ryan grew up. My parents are on the other side of our small town.
We are ‘home’.
Since moving here our children have met cousins, aunts, uncles, great-grandparents, great-aunts and uncles and second cousins. Eleanor gardens with her grandparents almost every day and Edward sat up and ate solids for the first time with the other set of grandparents. They played in the yard with their cousins and have been around the city with their aunt and uncles. Ryan and I get the joy of watching our parents as grandparents and the reprieve that comes along with it.
We are blessed. We are soaking it in. We are making the most of it because it is a season.
In less than a year we’ll be abroad again and back to Skype conversations and sporadic visits. Ryan and I were truly made to live far from familiarity and we need that to thrive. I know that now more than I ever did before. But because of what I learned while being so far from home I am able to make the most of the precious little time I have with family and especially my children with their grandparents.
Whether your family lives down the street or is on the other side of the globe (or even if you don’t really like them), embrace whatever connection you have. We were made to be together.