I grew up in Olympia, Washington.
Moved to Forest Grove, Oregon for college.
Moved to Washington, DC right after college, with my political science degree burning a hole in my pocket.
Moved to Portland, Oregon the day after election day 2008.
Then, a lot of life happened:
- I started my blog
- I worked in a couple different jobs
- I lost my mom
- I married my Brent
- I started on the always-terrifying, sometimes-exciting path of working for myself
- I lived with my sister
- I threw my sister a going-away party when she left Portland
- I got so excited when she moved to Olympia last summer
- I had a daughter
That last one is the bullet point that changed everything for me.
Our family is non-traditional. I work (for myself). Brent stays home with our daughter.
We have great friends. What we lack in sheer volume of acquaintances we make up for in depth of connection.
But we don’t have any local family.
Olympia is 100ish miles from Portland, so at least my side of the family is driving distance, but it’s not the same as driving across town to drop off our daughter so we can go see a movie.
The One Thing No One Brings Up When it Comes to the Challenges of Having Children
Having kids is isolating in a way I was never really prepared for.
See, everyone warns you that you’ll never sleep again, you’ll never get back to your pre-pregnancy body, and also babies are so super gross.
Those things are true, I guess, but read Dr. Ferber’s book before you read anything else, and he’ll explain how babies sleep. My pre-pregnancy body wasn’t something off the cover of Fitness Daily anyway, and all creatures are gross.
But no one told me that the whole world would shrink to the size of my house.
That every time I wanted to do something, I had to consider how long it would take to get there, and back, and whether I could fit that in between one of the baby’s nap times.
It’s not that I didn’t understand that having a kid would change my life.
It’s that I didn’t understand that having a kid with a slightly different schedule than my friends’ kids meant that actually getting together for a meal would involve complex strategizing that would, as often as not, fall apart because someone’s kid got sick.
We don’t have any neighborhood friends.
I’m sure we would, once my daughter starts going to school.
But our neighbor next door works the night shift, so I’ve only seen him in person once.
Our neighbor on the other side only talks to us to yell at us about where we’re parking on the street.
So, we’re lonely.
We have a guest room, and we fill it as many weekends as possible, but other than that, it’s the three of us.
And I want another kid.
I want a second kid so much it hurts. I see our daughter getting frustrated with only having big people to play with.
I know in the short (and heck, even medium) term, having two kids will be more work, not less.
I’ve tried talking myself out of wanting a second kid, but I can’t. Tears well up when I try.
But if I thought having one kid was isolating, I know what would happen once we had a newborn on the scene.
Everything would become a negotiation.
We’d try to leave the house as a family, I’m sure of it.
And who knows? Maybe we’d be less anal about car naps for kid 2. I’ve heard that relaxing happens when the second one comes around.
But the four walls of the house I love, in the neighborhood I love, in the city I love, in the part of the country I love, would start to seem like prison walls.
And I know our family would suffer.
But We Do Have a Large, Supportive Family in Arizona
Right after our daughter was born, my mother-in-law came to stay with us for a little while. Actually, she came up a few days before my due date so we wouldn’t have to worry about our not-super-awesome dog during the time we were in the hospital.
Because that’s the kind of person she is.
Her visit was followed by my dad and sister, and my aunt, who said, “if you want me to come, I’ll come,” and was true to her word.
Then, my sister-in-law came. And after she left, I started thinking that we should be closer to family. I toyed with the idea myself for a while, and brought it up to Brent after going to visit and leaving the house to go to the grocery store together, knowing with 100% certainty that our baby was taken care of.
It’s funny — no one believes that I’m the one who wants to move to Arizona.
I basically have webbed feet, after all. I’m a Northwest girl, and you can’t get more different from the climate I grew up in than the heat (“but it’s a dry heat!”) of Arizona.
I’m really looking forward to it, but I’m already nostalgic.
Nostalgic for a Portland we haven’t left yet.
Nostalgic for the food. Portland has some of the best food in the nation.
Nostalgic for being a two-hour drive from three of my favorite people on the planet.
But I know moving to Arizona is the right move for our family.
Will it be a tough adjustment?
Will it be the most amazing thing all the time always?
But we’re going.
We move in June.
Please someone tell me you’ll visit.