When you live far from family, hellos don’t come often enough and goodbyes are always hard.
I know so many of you get it. Whether its a a 4-hour drive or a 4-hour plane flight, there is just something that is lost in the day-to-day absence. And I feel it more now than I ever.
. . .
I moved out of my parents house when I was 18 and although I had a hard time adjusting to college, I knew I never really wanted to move back. I spent most of my college and post-college years wanting independence and an identity different from my family. When I was single and living with friends in Santa Barbara going home for the holidays and family birthdays was filled with tension. On one hand it was familiar and comfortable, but at 27 I felt like a little kid going back to mom and dads. The more time I spent at home, the deeper my heart ached for my own family. I wanted a husband and kids; the people who would make me into a “we.” I wanted to feel like a grown up, instead of like an adult sitting at the kids table.
And now here I am with my own family. A husband who I love and a daughter who brings me more joy than I knew possible. I am a grown-up, if there is such a thing. And yet I have yearned for my family more in the past 6 months, than in the past 6 years. Is that normal?
I know my parents they have always taken good care of me, but I probably wasn’t always in a season of life where I was able to receive it. But things have changed. Somehow being a new mom makes me tender, and tired and vulnerable in ways I didn’t expect. And it also makes me need my family in new ways.
. . .
My sisters have become aunts who want so desperately to be a part of Elena’s life. One flew down to Guatemala just to help us and spend time with Elena while Gerber was gone. And the other flew out to California the only weekend she had free to meet her niece and see us. And I bet my brother would do lunch dates with us every day if he could.
I have loved watching my parents become grandparents. They adore and love my little girl, they push pause on parts of their life just to be with her and sing to her and hold her. But maybe even more than how they love my daughter, it’s how they love me that makes me miss them.
My parents came to visit us in July and meet their granddaughter. And when they left I sat at my kitchen table in tears, my 6-week old baby in my arms. I flew to California in September for a 2-week visit and on the night they dropped us off at the airport I walked toward security, pushing the stroller, carrying Elena, and tears dripping down my face.
. . .
And last Thursday was no different.
We said good-bye upstairs by the elevators. My mom held Elena, my dad hugged me and my sister kept biting her lip to keep from crying. I took a deep breath and tried to swallow my tears.
I felt like a kid who just wants to go home. And home is a hard place to define when it’s straddled between two countries.
One home is with my sweet husband and baby girl in a country whose language and culture is still new to me. And the other is in California, in the same house and on the same street where this little girl grew up. And somehow I want my little girl to feel at home in both places.
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” -Miriam Adeney