Toddler tears

Tonight is our last night visiting our families, who live on the opposite coast. We fly out here often (and vice versa) so that our children can still be close to their grandparents, even though we live far apart.

I tucked my kids into bed tonight and reminded them that I would wake them up early in the morning (“tomorrow”) to fly back home. My oldest seemed to process this information quickly, but then called me back into the room a minute later. “What does tomorrow mean?”

“Tomorrow will be when you wake up,” I said. His eyes welled up with tears and his lower lip quivered. “But I don’t want to go home!” he said. “I like being at grandma and grandpa’s house. I don’t like our house and I don’t like my school!” For reference, he is 3.5 years old and has never expressed a dislike of our home nor his preschool.

His words broke my heart. The back-story here is that I myself often wonder if we’re doing the right thing living far away from family. I have discussed moving back home countless times with my husband (ad nauseam really) but he’s adamant that we are building a better life for our kids by staying where we are, and in many ways I think he’s right.

I didn’t feel a desire to flock back home until after I had kids. My husband and I both left home at 18. We come from involved and attentive families who sacrificed their own quality of life to provide us with everything we needed, and we subsequently both attended the same Ivy League college. After college we went our separate ways but found ourselves living in the same city (not near our parents) a few years later. 9 years after college, we moved together to the opposite coast because it’s what we wanted to do. We had both flirted with the idea and thought it would be a great time to try it. We ultimately stayed because my husband achieved some career success locally, even though, had I been single, I would have likely left the state. After our first was born, we stayed because we had a house and great jobs, and we have stayed since for similar reasons: it’s comfortable, we have short commutes, we have great careers, we love the area.

I grapple with staying a lot (my husband, who is very rational and pragmatic – as I have mentioned – does not). I often wish we had extra sets of hands to help out with the kids. We are on our own in terms of childcare, with the exception of that which we pay for. I also think the kids would grow to be more well-rounded if they had different caregivers intimately involved in their care. We have a lovely nanny, and she has been around since my first was born, but as much as we trust her, it’s just not the same as family. My closest friends are also here, and I find it so time-consuming to make adult friendships, especially with kids and working full-time. I also think about the fact that our parents are getting older. These are the years they will enjoy with their grandkids – when the grandparents are young enough to spend quality time with them and the grandkids are young enough to love spending this time with them, before they become self-absorbed teenagers. If anything happens to our parents, will I regret not living closer when it mattered the most?

More and more of our friends and acquaintances are moving out of state, for one reason or another. Some days I yearn to be one of them as well – packing up the house, putting it on the market, starting our lives elsewhere. But really I would only move back home, which is funny because I didn’t particularly love growing up here. As I’ve mentioned, my parents were great, but I moved when I was about to start high school, and this put a bit of a damper on everything. Adolescence is tough! I actually disliked my house for the longest time, but now that I’m an adult who has purchased a home in a high cost-of-living area, I can’t help but think: it’s so large! Look at all of this space and land! What a steal!

I am sure my oldest will wake up feeling fine tomorrow morning, but I don’t think my own feelings will be forgotten so quickly. I don’t know what the right answer is, and I don’t want to pressure my husband into making a decision until I am certain it is the right choice. And so I’m stuck in limbo, flying back and forth, feeling not-quite in each place, trying to put a positive spin on the situation for my kids. It reminds me of a few lines I read in the book “This Is How It Always Is” by Laurie Frankel:

“This is how it always is. You have to make these huge decision on behalf of your kid, this tiny human whose fate and future is entirely in your hands. Who trusts you to know what’s good and right and then to be able to make that happen. You never have enough information. You don’t get to see the future. And if you screw up – if with your incomplete contradictory information you make the wrong call – nothing less than your child’s entire future and happiness is at stake. It’s impossible. It’s heartbreaking. It’s maddening. But there’s no alternative.”

Resolutions

I have always loved reflecting, writing, and making resolutions. I remember New Year’s Eves in my childhood, curled up on a couch, writing furiously in my journal. I still love new beginnings, blank slates, a clean notebook.

My only problem now is time. How can I work on resolutions if I never sit to reflect and collect my thoughts? Most days now are split between racing around like a madwoman trying to get the most salient items on my to-do list completed and slowing down to enjoy time with my husband and little ones. But there is no in-between. There is no journaling while the kids play, reading the newspaper while they play with Legos, checking things off of my to-do list as my little cherubs entertain themselves. Because most tasks can’t be completed at work (unless it is a day when I am not scheduled to see patients) I spend my nights doing these things, go to sleep late, and am constantly on the verge of sleep deprivation.

Gosh, I realize this sounds pretty pessimistic, but it’s actually not. I enjoy being busy, and I’m very happy. But overall I’d like to be more intentional, despite the many directions I am pulled in.

I don’t put too much pressure on myself when it comes to resolutions, but here are a few things I’d like to focus on this year:

  1. Getting our house ready for a third. We have a few home improvement projects (some quite large) on the agenda and we now somehow need for these to be completed by August.
  2. More date nights with my husband. Since we don’t live close to family, this is always a challenge. Fortunately, we have great friends who have volunteered to mom-sit, and we need to take advantage of this a bit more.
  3. Launch a side biz. My husband and I have a specific idea in mind, in the works now for a few weeks, and we will hopefully bring this to fruition in the new year.
  4. Work out. We have struggled to fit this into our schedules since our first was born. And I have always been worried about the return of hypothalamic amenorrhea. But now, especially for purposes of a healthy pregnancy, I’m going to start working out 2-3 nights per week. We’ll probably start off taking advantage of our home exercise equipment before considering another splurge.
  5. Blog more intentionally. This has been a very sporadic endeavor in the past year, but I’ve quite enjoyed it, and need to focus my efforts a bit more.
  6. Move into more leadership roles at work.

Hoping for a healthy and happy New Year to you all!

Magical thinking

Two months after my (now) husband and I met, we spent a weekend at a vegan B&B in Vermont. We went to a very crunchy college and I was still, at 3 years out, in a very crunchy phase of my life. There was a terrible winter storm that weekend, but we braved the drive. Once in Vermont, we encountered a small narrow bridge. On the other side of that bridge was a sharp turn. It was impossible to see what was approaching from around the bend. Since we had just met, I was still allowed to drive, and my husband was keeping his backseat driving in check. I said: “That’s a tiny bridge! The last thing we need is for a Hummer to come around that bend.” No less than 20 seconds later, a Hummer came around the bend to cross the bridge. I couldn’t believe it! My husband will say that this was just a coincidence, but I see it as an example of the magic that is all around us. I mean, what are the chances that at that exact moment a Hummer – of all cars! – would appear out of nowhere?