Far from home

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Categories Family, Infants, Travel

This Friday, our little family of four will embark upon our fourth set of round-trip flights. That’s right, fourth. And my kids are only eight months old. And their first trip wasn’t until they were four and a half months old. We’ve pretty much had a trip every month since Christmas. There always seem to be events, holidays, or some other reason we simply must go somewhere. In part, the issue is further complicated by the fact that M’s grandmother, the kids’ great-grandmother, is really in no shape to travel from Florida to the frigid North. (She was freezing when she came to see them when they were born in August.) And so, fly we will.

I’d like to say this will get better with the summer and warm weather. But in my head, we have the potential for four more flights before Labor Day. And this is why, every so often, I think about moving back home to Chicago.

I was always a homebody as a kid. Cried my way through the first week or two of first grade (I missed my mommy), hated the two weeks I spent away at Girl Scout camp (I missed my mommy and hated platform tents). I even transferred colleges to be closer to home (missed my mom and my then-boyfriend). But somehow, at the end of college, I decided a change of scenery was in order. I came to Boston, met M, and eight years later… here I am. Though I’m in some ways more ambivalent about it than I’ve ever been, I also am now very acutely aware of how hard it is to be away from my family.

I have a very large family. Mom is one of seven, Dad is one of nine. Tons of aunts, uncles, cousins, etc live in the greater Chicagoland area. (M’s family is smaller and more spread out, so I’m obviously focusing on “my side,” here.) We’re really into get-togethers. Sunday dinners at my mom’s house, barbecues at my dad’s house (they’re divorced, yet live a mile away from one another… good times!). It has long made me kind of wistfully sad when I’m on the phone with my mom and she talks about my brother and his wife having everyone over for dinner, or when my dad says everyone is going to the White Sox game together. But never more so than now, when I have kids.

I can tell my parents miss them terribly. My aunts and uncles are always asking when we’ll be in town next. I know how much fun it was to grow up in that environment, and I’m sad that my kids aren’t in the middle of all that. And while I’m sure flying with one kid would be plenty of work, flying with two seems somehow exponentially harder. Being unencumbered by a work schedule, I theoretically can go any old time I want. But flying by myself is pretty much not an option, so we are restricted by M’s available vacation days. We discovered that we really aren’t up for the challenge of “lap infants,” so every trip is four increasingly expensive tickets. Ugh.

So I think about packing up permanently for the great, flat Midwest. But of course it isn’t nearly as easy as that. Not only is there the small matter of finding M a new job and selling our house in a terrible real estate market, though that would be daunting enough. But now that I have kids, and the pull to be “home” is as strong as ever, the great irony is that I finally have a social network here. New friends, things I’m involved in… all thanks to the “twin thing.” I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I don’t think I would have nearly the same social support as a stay-at-home-mom if I didn’t have twins. Three cheers for the Moms of Twins club. Not only has it helped me find other MoTs in the area, but it has given me social outings (monthly “support” meetings), a sounding board (yahoo group listserv), and a way to get involved (oh yeah, I’ll be on the board starting in May). I’m hopeful that I’d find something similar if we ever moved, but now that I actually want to move more than ever, I have more that I would be leaving behind.

At the moment, I’m staying put. We have no plans to move any time in the foreseeable future. We will fly to Florida on Friday for a week-early Passover (it was too expensive to fly for the actual holiday). We will go to Chicago this summer, possibly twice. We will keep flying. But maybe, one of these days, we’ll actually live near our (my) family, and save the frequent-flier miles for something else.

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7 thoughts on “Far from home”

  1. I can definitely relate to the missing home/family issue. We were just in NY this weekend and I got to see all my cousins, friends, and family. I have always missed them since moving here, but never so much as since Brady has been born. I would move to NY in a heartbeat, but Jim is not so convinced. Maybe someday…..

  2. I can relate too! Besides the fact that flights to and from AK are damn expensive, it’s SO hard being away from my family…especially now that we’ve got kids. Brook and I both keep saying that we’ll be moving back to Oregon/Washington one of these days…but now we just sold and bought a new house, so obviously not any time soon!

    Until then, we’ll keep our Alaksa Airlines mileage plan open! :)

  3. I continue to be impressed by all your traveling–Florida will be a piece of cake after CA. Ah, family. Wouldn’t it be just fantastic to have a mom (or aunt or sister or someone) living down the street? I find myself so envious of people with lots of local family.

  4. Well, I can definitely relate being a military spouse with (11month old) twins. We just moved from Illinois to Virginia and I can at least say that if you decide to move back to Chicagoland, the Mothers of Twins clubs are awesome there! The Lake County Mothers of Twins and More resale is awesome, especially.
    We are taking our first plane trip in June from VA to Vancouver. Yikes. I’m scared.

  5. Ok, everytime I read your blog or your posts here I am amazed at how our lives seem so parallel! (other than I have two girls and they are 7 mo, I suppose). But seriously, I can totally relate to this post and in fact have just gone through the motions of actually making the move to the mid-west. My Husband and I just sold our condo in downtown Washington, DC and bought a house in Minneapolis, MN, where my parents live. We’ll be making the big move in about 3 weeks (yikes). As much as we’ve loved DC, the minute the girls were in the picture, we just knew it wasn’t where we wanted to raise our family and that we didn’t want them to grow up without grandparents in their lives and so we’ll go! We’re scared and excited at the same time, but deep down I think we’re both really confident that it’s the right decision – let’s hope we still think that when it’s 40 below next winter!

  6. there are days when i wish i had a little more breathing room (my parents live in our house) but then i consider what it would be like if we had not moved back from oregon, if we had bought that house in bend and settled in. and then had twins. alone. i know it can be done, but i do not think i would want to do it any other way than we have. i love the way my boys know their whole huge extended family, and the perks that come from having the family directly involved. it is awesome that you are finding ways to connect with your family, even if it requires the daunting task of transporting your lovelies. hang in there, you never know what the future may bring.

  7. Another heartfelt vote of empathy! It is so tough being far away from family. (Ours reside in OR, WI & NY…) If only AK were closer to the Lower 48.

    We are hoping to set up a Skype account to keep in closer touch with family. This in addition, of course, to email, phone calls and of course a constant diet of uploaded photos.

    I often wonder how my parents and grandparents managed being so far away. In the days before digital everything and unlimited long distance minutes.

    Travel mercies to you and yours and a wonderful time with family!

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