It has been so long since I have spoken here, I hardly know what to say. In perusing my own blog space, it was fun to read back my last few posts and to see evidence of how our lives were- an echoing familiarity to those words and yet a stark contrast to our current reality. How very, very much has changed in the past year!
For starters… we relocated. All the way to California, out of the Midwest and into sunny southern California. Back to my roots, my homeland, my tribe. Newness and new beginnings for my wife, who has always been a Midwesterner, and for my boy, who (as much as I hate to admit it), was born a Midwesterner and knows more of corn and cows than sand and seashells. (Shiloh doesn’t care much either way where we are- the gift of being young and unaware).
The relocation was an attempt to solidify family structures and support systems. We had no community, no People, in the midwest- wifey’s family was of the tolerate-but-do-not-welcome homophobic tribe, and my family was all here, in soCal. It was so very, very hard, to live without that tribe- for instance, Shiloh and my wife were both hospitalized at different points with pneumonia, and we had NO one to help. Minor daycare emergencies came up- we were SOL, on our own, keeping our own boat afloat. Kids got sick, cars broke down, tires went flat, trips to the grocery store had to be made with sleeping children- no one was there to support us, but us. Pax was born, for goodness’ sake, and we had no one here for two whole weeks afterwards! Holidays were had mainly alone, exceptions being Christmas and visits in the summer, and even then, it was a limited few family birds rather than the whole flock that we got to celebrate with. The family feasts of both our childhoods, the remembered raucousness of cousins being cousins at family get-togethers, the comraderie of opening one’s presents and then making the communal trip to grandmother’s house with the rest of the family, only to repeat the process there as well… none of that was anywhere to be found in the Midwest for us. Looking back, I can’t quite believe how lonely it was. I’m not sure how we survived for seven years there, but we did, with “survive” being the key word and the alternate form, “thrive,” not being applicable. And so, in an attempt to thrive, to find community, and family, and support, not just for ourselves but most especially for our children, we made the Great Move cross-country. We transferred Wifey’s job and my nursing licenses out here, packed up our stuff and our children… and moved.
The one exception to the entire process has been Thing One. When I spoke earlier of us missing family and lack of community, that was true… for all except her. I’m not sure how much I’ve spoken of it in this space, but Thing One’s father is very much a part of her life, having (until now) regular parenting time visits while we retained full physical custody of her. Thing One grew up with the inconvenience of divorced parents but the full benefit of having all of her grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and extended relatives available to her- on her dad’s side. We loved that for her, but hated that for ourselves and our other children, this was not the case. We originally desired to move EVERYBODY in our family out to SoCal, so that EVERYBODY would have some form of “family” available to them, even if it meant moving Thing One away from this other half of her family (quite the catch 22, I assure you.). However, the long story short is that a judge ruled for Thing One’s father to have custody of her if we were to move out of state- which we did- and so she now lives with him and we get visitation. The situation became a question of “what is best for the entire family” and in the end, this had to be the answer.
The good news is, things are going great thus far. We have been here for a month and a half now. Thing One is doing very well, living with her dad, and we are all looking forward to her coming to visit in just over a week. She seems to have adjusted quite well to this change in circumstances, and may, possibly, in ways I can’t adequately describe here, be benefiting from the arrangement moreso than when she was living with us. She is in 5th grade now, going to a wonderful school, active in Girl Scouts, sees her cousins daily, spends every weekend with her grandparents… it may sound funny, but neither of us are worried about her one bit. We miss her, absolutely. But not worried. There is also an amendment to this new custody agreement that if, for some reason, things should not be going well with this arrangement and Thing One begins to suffer (dropped schoolwork, increased ADHD signs/symptoms, not being adequately cared for, etc etc) she would come back to us after this “trial period” year. So, it helps to know we have this safety net in place, should the need arise.
On our end of things, I feel like things are settling in. We are living with my parents currently, partly to save money on rent and partly because it is HARD to find an adequate living space for your family when you are across the country from the spaces you’re looking for! So, we are hoping this situation is temporary but also open to a more long-term extension as well. I will be starting school to become a Nurse Practitioner this winter (3 year, part-time program), and while I am in school I confess I do not mind living here and saving up some moohlah! Plus, my mom has been a huge help and support- everything we were missing while living back east, honestly, and my best friend lives in this same town and is more of the same. Wifey’s job transferred her across country, so she has been working since the second week we got here, whereas I had to wait for my California nursing license to transfer (and boy was THAT a process) and am only just now getting my foot in the door with applications. There are a few prospects on the horizon, so we shall see what turns up!
And as for the littles… oh, the littles. Pax is HUGE but still a scrawny thing, as in here-have-a-stick-of-butter scrawny. I have the same worries that every other preschool mother has, that he doesn’t eat enough and his preferred palate (mac n cheese, chicken nuggets, ketchup, more ketchup) doesn’t offer much nutritionally- but I know, in the end, he will be just fine. We are doing the Mad Preschool Scramble Search right now, which is a new game to us and one I’m not altogether happy to be playing! In our old town, we could pretty much sidle on up to any ‘ole preschool we wanted, at any time of year, to get him a spot, but now that we are in a much bigger town and population center, we of course can’t do that! What we are discovering is that there are waiting lists, sometimes over a year long (!), and that most of the preferred schools have been filled up for this fall for the past year. We have found a few glimmers in the darkness- just not first-choice glimmers- and I have to keep reminding myself that mommy needs a job, folks, (and therefore the kids have to have SOMEWHERE to go) and that this won’t be forever (Pax will start transitional kindergarten next year as he misses the cutoff date for regular kindergarten due to his birthday). So, really, we just need to pick one and get this decision-making behind us but oh, how much agony this decision feels like when you are in the midst of it.
As for Pax himself- he is doing well, all things considering. He is still adjusting from the move, and every now and then will ask to go home, not to Grandma’s house. I know he also misses his own little Tribe of People, because in the midwest he was going to preschool 4/5 days a week and here he has not yet started, so there has been far less social interaction than he is used to. We have been doing library reading times, playgroups, hiking- any kind of interaction we can scrounge up- but it is not the same as a preschool full of buds to hang out with. He remains hyperactive and impulsive- he has a new scar on his eye from getting his first stitches two weeks ago after he decided to dive out of my arms- and we are starting the process of getting him tested for ADHD. At this stage, even if (when) he is found to have it, they would not (and we would not let them) give him medication, but they can and do have proven behavioral interventions they can do with him while we wait for him to grow and gain some more control. I can’t help but feel guilty that he is going through this, as I am 99% sure I have adult ADHD and that I must have passed it onto my son. Sorry, little guy.
Shiloh, on the other hand, is our patch of calm in a rough sea. She does have a temper but for the most part is the easiest, happiest, most chill baby I have ever seen. She is always smiling, cooing, blowing raspberries… oh how I love this child. She turned 1 in July, which still doesn’t seem possible but nevertheless happened. She is a peanut! 20lbs but relatively short- everyone who sees her assumes she is still under one, including her own pediatrician (until she knew better!). She just started really getting the hang of walking a week ago, but now that she’s up on two feet, you can’t stop her- she is a walking queen. She and her brother love to play and it makes me so happy to see them together.
More on the wife and I later- this is a monster enough post, for now. I’m glad to be returning to this space, although we will see how often it ends up being.