Phase Four?

I haven’t had a new Sluiter Nation Recruit ’round these parts in a while.  And really, when better than when I am booty-deep in back to school?
Today I am VERY excited to have Meghan from Phase Three of Life here. Meghan is just…well…she is lovely.  Her son is adorable, she is a fellow mid-westerner (by birth, not current location…although…from what you’ll read here it sounds as if she may be coming back to the land of four seasons), and she can write like the wind blows.
So no, I don’t just love her because she is saving my over-worked, over-tired writing self this week.
Read on, and you’ll love her too.
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Hi! I’m Meghan from Phase Three of Life. I’m a working mom, living in Phoenix with my husband and toddler son. Sometimes I’m sentimentalsometimes I’m overwhelmed and sometimes I laugh when my kid throws a tantrum. I write whatever I’m feeling on any given day.
I’m honored to spend a little time in Katie’s space!
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I was not concerned or upset or scared about turning 30. I didn’t see much of a difference between 29 and 30, and I’m not one to whine about getting older. We should all be so lucky to be able to complain about such a thing. My mantra was simple: My 20s were good; my 30s will be even better.
Somehow, in the months since that birthday, I have felt a change in myself. I don’t know whether the number subconsciously influenced me or whether the timing is coincidental, but I find myself taking stock of my life. I am suddenly struck that certain things need to change, and I’m not sure how I didn’t see it before.
The biggest realization has been that family needs to play a larger role in our daily lives. We live in Arizona, 2,000 miles from every living relative. Before we became parents, living so independently was exciting at best, inconvenient at worst. Now that our son is on the cusp of turning two, it is downright difficult and painful.
We’ve had two cross country trips recently – one to see my family in Ohio; one to see my husband’s family in Pennsylvania. The travel on the first trip went surprisingly well. (In this context, “well” is defined as “only screamed for the final 30 minutes of the four-hour flight.”) The travel for the second trip? Let’s just say I’m surprised you didn’t hear Ryan whining, screaming or crying from where he was restrained 35,000 feet in the air.
A truth that had been lurking in the back of our minds could no longer be ignored: This sucks. Traveling with a toddler is expensive, it is exhausting and it sucks. Even if you take our inconvenience (and the inconvenience of anyone condemned to be on our flights) out of the equation – one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do as a parent is wrench Ryan away from family he obviously loves. It was one thing when he was a little blob of a baby that smiled at any random person who played peek-a-boo. Now he remembers these people, calls them by name, knows the special games and jokes he shares with each one.

He loves them, he plays with them every day, and then we put him on a plane and take him back to The Land of No Family. He is old enough to make those emotional connections but not old enough to understand why they are there one day and gone the next.

 


I love Arizona. I moved here fresh out of college for a job, never intending to stay long – certainly not for upwards of eight years – but I fell hard for this state. Arizona is bright and beautiful and romantic, and in many ways, it feels like home. I didn’t want to sacrifice my love of this place. But maybe I wasn’t fully considering what I was sacrificing in its place. That the hole left in our lives by an absence of Sunday dinners and cousin sleepovers couldn’t be filled by a shining Arizona sun. For a while, I think it sort of was. But now it just feels like that sun is shining a spotlight on what we’re missing.
So the first chance we get, we’re leaving. There are loose ends to tie up (uh, namely, employment). This move will be a logistical nightmare, featuring enough furniture to fill two homes, a condo that we’re unbelievably underwater in, a toddler, and an anxiety-riddled cat.But for the first time in my life, I have true clarity: The logistics do not matter. If the movers scratch my favorite dresser, life will go on. If my toddler and my cat compete for the “Who can cry the loudest on the plane?” award, I will order $10 airline cocktails. If I have to rent that condo out for the next 23 years (but who’s counting?) until the sucker is paid off – I will do it.
Because where we’re going, Ryan will jump into piles of fall leaves with his cousins. He will cheer at baseball games with his Pop. He will know the beauty of lightening bugs, the joy of snow days. It just so happens that where we’re going, the grass truly is greener.
See how wise I’m getting in my old age?

Phase Three of Life
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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a high school English teacher, college adjunct instructor, freelance writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. Oh this post resonates with me. Fresh out of college I moved 300 miles away from everything I knew to shack up with future husband who had a job. We talked about moving back to my hometown initially, but early on that didn’t happen and now the paycut would be scary. Dh’s family is an hour away, bt it is 6 hrs to visit mine.

    We are currently in the midst of a long visit with my patents, at the farm where I grew up. Road trips alone with my two girls (4 and 1) and a 70 lb Rottweiler don’t intimidate me any more. I dread the start of K next year and how much it will curtail these moments.

    • Same with us – we talked about it early on but sort of got settled in. The further we got in our careers and more money it made, the less likely it seemed that we would ever move. It will require a pretty big lifestyle change for us, I think. It’s good to know that the travel does get easier as the kids get older. We’ll still be about 7 hours from my family, so good roadtripping will be key. 😉 Good luck next year with the the big K!

  2. I hope you’re able to make this happen soon, Meghan. The desire to do it soon/now/hurryupalready is so evident in your writing. Just know that Ryan might remember these trips and the happiness they held before family was around regularly. Maybe that’ll make it that much more special for him.

    • Thank you for saying that. I think I needed to hear that. I feel like time is slipping by so fast and now that the decision has been made, I’m definitely in I-just-want-to-be-there-already mode.

  3. Wow. Big decision Meghan. I bet it feels good to do what you know is right for your little family. I know how it feels to have family so far away, and it’s not easy. I’m not sure I could ever leave San Diego for the seasons though. We have been here 9 yrs and slowly, one by one, my husband’s family has moved west. Maybe mine is next?!

    • That would be so great if yours started moving out, too! At first, we sort of thought everyone would follow us to AZ… they all want to but can’t or won’t for various reasons. Maybe impending kiddo #2 will finally prod your family to get movin!

  4. I’m so so so happy for you. Change is terrifying but oh-so-exciting. I absolutely relate to where you are and am trying to figure out … what next? I send you a whole ton of happy and lucky vibes.

  5. I’m so glad you came over to Katie’s space today. She’s right, I love your writing. Best to you on phase four; I’ll be following along from good old Minnesota.

  6. Katie gets the best writers! Meghan – congrats on your clarity. I moved about 800 miles from my family, only a 2-hour plane ride, yet it sometimes felt like another planet soon as I had children. When my mom retired, her visits started getting longer and longer. And each time she left, it was harder and harder. I was finally able to lure her away from my sisters (their kids are older) and she moved about 15 minutes away from us. She’s been a constant for my kids. And now, as she’s having some health issues, I’ve been able to be helpful for her. I think extended family is SO important in kids’ lives. Some people are lucky and resourceful enough to be able to recreate an extended family out of friends and neighbors. While friends and neighbors play a key role around here too, my village is even stronger with my family.

    • How wonderful that you and your mom have each other! We have definitely been blessed to make some wonderful friends here that we spend holidays/vacations with and truly are like family to us. We’re working on making them come back with us. 😉

  7. I also meant to say good luck on everything! I’m in awe of anyone who can make that kind of move!

  8. Fresh out of high school I got married and my husband joined the Army. Our first duty station ever… Germany. I cried many a days wishing we were closer to our family. I am thankful that my friends there were like a family, but it never truly replaced the hole in my heart. We are now stationed in Colorado, and I must say that across the world moves are not fun! We had to ship our car and furniture out a month before we came to the U.S. One day we will be back in Michigan, but my husband plans on making the Army his career; so it will be while before that day. I understand how you heart can never fill that gap <3

    • I actually teared up reading your comment. I can’t fathom how difficult the across-the-world move must have been. I hope you get back to Michigan as fast as possible!

      • I can say that being apart from family all of the time definitely makes me enjoy my time with them much more! I am just thankful to be in the United States a little closer to family 🙂 At least this time around our planes tickets won’t be close to a grand a piece if we can visit! Good luck on your move!

  9. I feel you. We live in CA and all of our families are in MI. However, we love it here and have no intention of ever leaving. It gets super hard sometimes though.

    • It’s funny WHEN it gets hard, too. The holidays have never been terribly upsetting for me… but I’ll get sad when they have a random summer BBQ that I can’t attend. I think I miss the little moments more than the big ones.

      • You are so right omg!!! I hate traveling at the holidays. But some random Tuesday when I see a grandma walking with her granddaughter…bam, it’s like a ton of bricks!
        It’s nice to know others understand 🙂