Seriously, lonely. Not to throw a pity party or anything, but if there are any other human beings in the world that are raising a child or children away from family, then you will understand what I’m saying here.
When my husband and I moved away right after getting married, I knew it’d be different. I was ready for it. I was ready to have just “us” time. I was BEYOND thankful to have our space as newlyweds without our families up in our business about the status of making a grandchild. I enjoyed being able to have arguments (not the actual argument part) with my husband and not accidentally letting the nitty gritty details spill out at a weekly family dinner. I enjoyed being able to just focus on our marriage, living together for the first time, adapting to our new jobs, and learning our new town together.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love all these things. However when you have a child, it’s just different. It gets tougher to do things with your husband spontaneously. It becomes more apparent when you don’t get a weekly call from a family member. It is more noticeable when you see others with a village.
Here are the 10 things I wish someone would’ve prepared me for when we decided to move away from our families.
This is one I’m not particularly proud of, but it happens. I’m aware of it. I am trying to improve it. On the other hand, it IS human nature to be envious or jealous of things. I have just become so envious of my mom friends who have a certain type of freedom when they have a village of family around. I mean, the complaining that comes from friends about how much their family spoils their baby is something I can’t relate to. Or even when friends can go out to dinner for a couple hours AT THE LAST MINUTE without having to call a million babysitters is enough to throw me in a jealous rage. Or better yet, they can go out AT ALL.
Which brings me to the next one…
2. Date night has to become a priority in the budget.
Seriously. If you can’t make date night a priority, you are basically kissing your marriage goodbye for the next 18+ years. Am I saying you HAVE to go out all the time to keep your marriage fresh? No! I mean, think about my story for example… I literally just quit my job to become a stay at home mom. I have thousands of dollars in college debt for a degree that I decided not to use anymore. Money is tight. I get it. However, no one told me how important it was to at least make it a priority. If I want to go out to dinner and a movie, I have to basically pay double what my friends do because I have no one around here to watch my little guy for free. Now, I have ONCE asked a family member to visit and planned a date. However, I had to plan WAY in advance. You want to stay home on a date without paying for a babysitter? Totally fine! However, you want to watch a movie on Redbox? Check in the budget. You want to have chocolate covered strawberries with a candlelight dinner? Check in the budget. You want to play a board game or spend quality time creating something? Check in the budget- you need to BUY those things first!
3. Even if date night is a priority, it is usually less frequent.
You have a babysitting fee or dating supplies in the budget? Awesome! Now you have to find the time to buckle down and get someone to watch your child. You have to ask around to find reliable people. You have to interview babysitters. This is one that I really struggled with my first year as a parent. I was still working as a teacher and away from my boy the majority of the day. Why in the WORLD would I want to pay someone PLUS daycare to watch my son for an evening out with my husband? I didn’t WANT to go out on a Saturday night, because that was the one night of the week I had enough energy to catch up on things around the house OR better yet… LIFE. Yet, it has to be done.
4. Friends aren’t family.
Now, this one might be a bit dark. Some of people may say, “Now Krista, you’re just being way too negative. I can see why you don’t have a village. You’re too pessimistic and don’t let anyone in!” Well, let me tell you something… I DID let people in. I invited people to intimate family celebrations. I had GREAT friends (or so I thought) who would come to our house for birthdays, housewarming parties, weekly dinners, etc. But you know what I always found out? If there was a choice between a weekly dinner with us or a weekly family dinner, they would 9 times out of 10 choose the family dinner. You know why? Because they are FAMILY. We are not. We may be “framily” or so close to friends that we are “family.” But, when push comes to shove, they will choose their blood over you. Unless you can find someone around you that is like us where our families aren’t the healthiest or most positive people to be around. When you find those people, give them my number, okay?
5. You become more aware of other villages.
This is one that I’ve REALLY noticed my first year as a parent. I find someone I REALLY like and want to be friends with, but it doesn’t really happen. You know why? BECAUSE they already have a village. And guess what? They aren’t taking any new members. There are so many people around us. So many potential friends or even acquaintances that we have. We have fantastic neighbors who are so nice and who we hang out with occasionally. We both have friends at work and will have occasional drinks with. But you know what I’ve noticed? At the end of the day, who can you call in an emergency? Can you really call them? Will they drop and be your village? Most likely they won’t. You know why? Because they already have a village and you’re not apart of it.
6. You become an outsider when you visit.
Okay, you’ve moved away. You are living your life, you are loving the place you live. You’re making friends. You’re loving your job. Then you visit home. You start to become aware of all the things you DON’T care much about anymore. You start to notice that your family ISN’T caught up on the community gossip that you know about in your current city. You start to notice that your family doesn’t know every little quirk about your child or that your little one doesn’t like green beans anymore when the last time you were there, they LOVED them. You start to notice that your family doesn’t know how to calm down your toddler, because your toddler doesn’t know them. You just start to notice.
7. The unhealthiness of your family shines bright.
This is one that has rung SO true in our lives since moving away. Once you take a step back from your family dynamics, you start to see what your role was in the family. You start to see what everyone’s role in the family is. Take my husband’s family for example. He is the middle child. The middle boy AND the middle child of 5. Double whammy. He is the “okay” one or better known as the “fixer.” Cell phone gets broken? Ask him to call the company to send a new one. Someone needs help with homework? Ask him to solve the problems or teach you the material. You get the point. That was his role. When that person is gone, you start to see how broken the system really is. You start to see that some people just don’t step up to be there when you’re gone. You start to see the snide or rude passive aggressive comments that happen between family members. You just start to see things as if you’re an outsider looking in.
8. Moving away can either make or break your marriage.
This might sound like a strong statement, but hear me out. Who do you talk to when you’ve had a really long stressful day at work? Your partner or your family/friends? Seriously. This was a game changer for me. If this question would’ve been asked 5 years ago, I would’ve said my best friend or sister (both on the other side of the state). Today, I’d say my husband. Now, has my husband gotten way more awesome since the beginning of our relationship? In some ways, yes. However, for the most part he has been the same level of awesomeness. So, why was there a change in my answer? Because WE MOVED AWAY. It’s as if we were forced to get closer together. You know why? Because no matter how many details you tell your family, your family doesn’t know all the little things about your house, town, or job. They just don’t. My person of choice was my sister. I told her EVERYTHING. However, she could’ve cared less about what our mailman’s name was. Or even that a house next door planted a new tree that is blowing annoying leaves all over. You get closer to your partner. It just happens.
9. Your forced to get over the little things in your marriage.
There have been SO many times that I wanted to kill my husband. Chill out, not LITERALLY. He leaves dirty clothes all over the stinking house. He doesn’t do the dishes fast enough. He was mean the night before. Whatever the reason, he flat out pissed you off. When you have no village or people around, you’re forced to get over it. (Within reason-I’m not saying the REALLY bad stuff you should get over, I just mean the little annoying things) You know why you’re forced to get over them? Because you have no one else to talk to! Just today, I got really mad at my husband for not helping me out this morning with the dishwasher. He has had a long two days where he isn’t home until about 9:00. That is long after my son goes to bed. So guess who doesn’t get a break? Me. So, I come downstairs in the morning to eat a little breakfast before my son and the other two kiddos I watch in the day come over. I expect to spend 15 minutes of my day able to sit and eat a warm meal. What do I get? A sink full of dishes and people coming over in a few minutes. Which resulted in me spending my free 15 minutes, doing dishes. I was not very happy. But you know what? An hour later I was texting him and telling him about something funny my son did. You know why? Because he’s the only one I have to talk to. Now, we did have a long talk when he got home from work but in that moment, I was over it. I just needed him, or someone to share these little moments with.
This leaves me with the last thing…
10. You become a stronger family unit.
Living away from a village is tough. I mean, tough tough tough. We have less frequent date nights. We are way more exhausted, because we don’t get a break. We spend the majority of our family visits taking care of our kid, because he’s not familiar with the family enough. Don’t even get me started on getting him to sleep in a new place… My husband and I cried together while sleep training, because neither of us knew what the heck we were doing. We bonded over the fact that our family didn’t visit often enough. They didn’t know our struggles as newlyweds, they weren’t involved in our struggle to get pregnant, they didn’t call frequently, or the fact that they didn’t know our son. We were there for each other. We were forced to be each other’s everything. We had to. If we wanted to make this family work as a whole or teach our son the meaning of family, we had to be.