My family has been unintentionally fractured over the past year and it has caused us to redefine what “together” really means for us.
It actually started about 18 months ago when my husband decided it was time to start looking for a new job. He was ready to step out of his leadership role at a small, local company and move to a global company that would give him the opportunity to expand his horizons. I fully supported his decisions even though I knew that might mean a relocation.
We have lived away from both of our extended families for almost two decades. As a young, carefree married couple, it was no bother. Family can sometimes be a drag, weighing you down with obligations. But as we got older and decided to grow our family from the two of us to the three of us, our feelings about family started to change.
In the five years since my son was born, we’ve missed having grandparents here at the holidays. We’ve missed out on family birthday dinners. We’ve missed having our son get to know his cousins and aunts and uncles. So relocation, especially if it meant moving closer to family, was definitely something worth considering.
We started out with a plan to move to Connecticut, close to my brother-in-law. I got excited about finally living the fantasy New England lifestyle I’ve always dreamed about!
But that fell through.
Another opportunity arose with the same company in…
That got a resounding NO from me. Not only do we not have any family in Texas, it’s too darn hot. Period.
And finally, an opportunity came up for the Washington, DC area – where I grew up. My side of the family is scattered throughout Maryland and Virginia so we’d be close to my family!! But, oh… we’d be close to my family. (If you have one of those families, you’ll know exactly what I mean here.)
Yes, plenty of waves of emotion. But in the end, my husband accepted the job, the house went on the market, and we prepared to move from North Carolina to Maryland.
Except we didn’t.
The economy and real estate market had other plans and I stayed home week after week hoping to sell the house while my husband literally commuted to the Baltimore area. It was fine at first. I had evenings to blog and drink wine, guilt-free. He got to sleep in my sister’s attic. We knew it would all work out eventually.
Around the holidays, we took a break from listing our house. No one should ever have to keep their house that clean and we needed a break. We needed a break from the stress of trying to sell a house and the stress of being apart. We figured we’d try to sell again in the Spring, all the while, my husband still commuted back and forth.
It started to take its toll on my son. It made me sad when my husband was home and would simply run out to the store. My son would just assume he had gone on another business trip. He got used to the unpredictability of his schedule and he got used to his absence.
Spring finally emerged. We made some changes, finally relisted our house, and it sold within a week.
We’re finally coming to the end of our separation and we’re so close we can taste it. Even though our world is chaotic as we are going through the transition, we know the chaos will soon end.
Today, in the midst of all the packing and boxes, my mother asks me if I’m full of mixed emotions. No, I tell her. Those emotions have long since passed. What I am focused on now is one word: together.
When my son started preschool in the fall, they asked him to bring in a family photo. We had to go back several months to find one picture of all of us together because it has been so rare that we were.
When my birthday rolled around, my husband was out of town so I took my son with a friend and her son out for my birthday dinner.
When my son’s birthday came around, my husband was out of town again. So we filmed him opening his presents so dad could feel like he was there.
We sold the house and we’re packing to move so we can all be together. That’s the emotion I’m focused on.
My husband is still commuting so much of the packing burden has fallen on me. But I’m okay with it because there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. At the end of the week, we’ll all be under the same roof, most likely in the same bed, enjoying just one thing: being together.