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.
I’m honored to spend a little time in Katie’s space!
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.