For 12 of our 15 years of marriage, we have lived away from our families. At first it wasn’t by choice. My husband was accepted into medical school in Des Moines, Iowa so to Iowa we went. Next came residency, another choice we didn’t really get to make. To Lees Summit, Missouri we went. After residency we made the choice to move to the 30a area and do not regret our choice for a second. Being far from our family has made us realize that sometimes family isn’t found on a branch of a family tree.
When we moved to Iowa I was overwhelmed to say the least. Barry was gone pretty much all the time either on campus or locked in our bedroom studying. I had a two year old and a five month old and knew nobody in the entire state. I did what any cloth diapering mom in the early 2010s did, met friends online. Luckily, I came across a mama in the same town as me with a baby roughly the same age as my second, Gabriel. Just like a first date, we met at the zoo with our babies and husbands in tow and the rest was history. Seriously she is my ride or die. She has been there for me through thick and thin and talked me off countless metaphorical ledges. She’s the mom and friend I strive to be. She’s known to my kids as Aunt Jackie and we are planning a FRAMILY vacation this fall. She’s definitely not the only person that made Iowa an amazing experience but she is the only one that’s forever and ever on my recent call list.
Missouri had big shoes to fill. The support we received in Iowa would be hard to match, and yet, somehow we ended up in the perfect place at the perfect time. Residency was tough. I mean, I don’t know how Barry did it. One week of night shift, one week of day shift, different specialties. Glad it was him and not me. His erratic schedule meant that I did a lot of the momming on my own. We had four babies by then. Our cul de sac was like the sandlot- a huge swarm of small children playing well together and getting out all of their energy. It was there that my kids had their first surrogate grandma. Uncle Tony and Aunt Alicia have come to visit us every summer since we moved. Miss Melissa is still Owen’s favorite and Mr. Jeff’s racecar driving is still talked about frequently.
When we chose to move to Florida I’m sure it surprised a lot of people. It really surprised us too if we’re being honest. Being here we have been enveloped in true community. Moving to Florida was a declaration of our independence and yet it’s been in Florida that I’ve met some of the most amazing humans. It’s been in Florida that I’ve had my highest highs and lowest lows and it’s been here that I’ve acquired friends that are more family than some blood.
Family can be wonderful. I am so grateful to have a loving and supportive family back in Washington state. Living far away from our biological families has taught us a lot. One of the most important lessons we have learned is that sometimes, family isn’t found on a branch of a family tree.