Monday, August 20, 2012

Family

When we moved to Austin we said we would stay for at least five years.  Five years seemed like long enough for Henry to get some solid job experience that would expand his options when looking to move closer to home.  It's no secret that I've had a hard time adjusting to life in a big city, especially after the miserable drought of last year.  This spring, I made the decision to commit to life in Austin.  Now that we have a child though?  My thoughts have changed.

I never grew up with extended family nearby.  We saw grandparents, aunts, uncle, and cousins only once a year.  Twice if we were lucky.  I thought that's how all families were.  I never questioned the idea that I would graduate high school, leave the state for college, and eventually find a job in a new city (or country!).  It never occurred to me that I would want to move back to my hometown after leaving; it just wasn't the model I grew up with.

Now that I have a family of my own, my desire to move back to my hometown has taken on a new urgency.  My parents, sister, and brother all live within a mile and a half of each other.  When we lived there for six months during the job search, I loved it.  I loved having dinner at my parents' house, playing cards with my siblings and their spouses, seeing old friends from my childhood, being able to easily ride my bike or walk everywhere in town... the list goes on.  Henry and I were excited to embark on a new adventure, but it was hard to leave my family behind.

My mom was able to come down for HP's first week of life.  When she left, I cried buckets of tears--huge, ugly, body-shaking sobs.  I wasn't crying because she was no longer going to make our food for us (though that would be missed); I was crying because she wasn't going to see HP again for months.  What I had thought was normal as a child--only seeing extended relatives a few times a year--is not what I want for HP.  I want his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to be a part of his every day life.  Living fourteen hours from family doesn't make that possible.

It's a hard situation because Henry truly loves his job here.  He is doing meaningful work that challenges him intellectually.  He enjoys his coworkers and respects his boss.  How often does that combination occur?  We feel truly lucky for him to have found this job.  At the same time, neither of us feel truly connected to Austin.  We both long to live in a smaller town, with a more mild climate, that's closer to family.  But how do you balance everything you want?  Is it worth it to move back home if Henry has to take a job that he doesn't love as much?  If we wait for him to find the perfect job in Missouri are we going to be waiting forever?

It's not that I hate my life here--not at all.  We've made wonderful friends here who would be hard to leave behind.  Austin has things to offer that my smaller hometown is lacking (most notably excellent local and organic food options).  It's just that I love my family and want to have more than a long-distance relationship with them.  

Realistically, we'll likely meet or exceed the five year commitment we originally envisioned when we moved here.  And the longer we are here, the more connections we make, and the more rooted we become, the less likely it is that we will leave.  But if the perfect job came open?  Let's just say it would be hard to turn it down.

3 comments:

  1. I say "amen" to this post. I never thought I would live close to family (my parents joked that I would be the kid who moved to the other side of the world) but now living a five minute drive from both my parents and Ben's feels like we have won the lottery. It wasn't modeled for me either, we lived 8 hours from the nearest family member. The strange thing is that it feels so natural. We were considering moving before I found out I was pregnant with Levi but once we found out, I wanted to stay. I didn't want to go through the process of having a baby and being in a different state than my mom. I'm sure it's hard, you will be in my thoughts and prayers through this. Praying you do get to go back home, and Henry won't have to sacrifice those things in his job. :) Love you friend!

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  2. Okay, I'm going into problem-solving mode; I can't help it. I think life is very short and we have to craft the life we want for ourselves (with as much urgency as possible!). Can H telecommute? How much of his job is actually onsite versus working at a desk? Is he actively looking for jobs in your hometown? Could he create the job of his dreams in your hometown?

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  3. I love problem-solving mode (or at least once I've moved past "needing to vent" mode, which could more politely be called "identifying the problem mode")! It wouldn't be possible for him to telecommute because so much of his job is in the field, either implementing design plans or holding public meetings. I think the hard thing for us right now is figuring out which things we want most, i.e. is it more important for him to absolutely love his job, or is it more important to be close to family? I don't think it has to be an either/or situation forever, but the perfect situation hasn't presented itself. After a couple of years at his current job he'll also have more experience that should open up more doors career-wise than he had available just out of grad school. He also feels fairly committed to seeing his job through another busy season. We're continually looking at our options and reassessing our situation, but it's hard to find the balance between working toward what we want in the long term and being happy with where we are if the long term option isn't currently available. But you're right--it's important to clearly define what we want and take active steps toward making it happen.

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