When my husband and I found out that I was pregnant with our son, we almost immediately started house hunting. We’d lived in our home together for over 11 years, but it wasn’t where we wanted to raise the child who’d be arriving in several months. It was too small, and we had been planning on moving out for years anyways – what better reason to finally do so than to find our forever home for our growing little family!
Additionally, we did not like the school district we lived in. So after a few months of endless realtor appointments and open houses and spreadsheets detailing pros and cons of different areas and homes, we finally found it. The home that we have loved and continued to make our own for the past six years. We live in the community that my husband was raised in. The majority of his childhood and teen years (as well as those of his sisters) were spent all on the same street, a little over five minutes from our current home.
My husband’s childhood is so foreign to my own.
My family moved A LOT while I was growing up. I was born in northeast Ohio, where my dad’s family is from. After about a year, we moved to southwest Ohio, where my mom’s family is from. Then, at age 7, back to northeast Ohio. Age 12, back to southwest Ohio. And during our time in those different parts of the state, there would be moves to different houses and school districts. I attended three grade schools, two middle schools and two high schools. Before moving in with my now-husband, the longest I’d ever lived in the same house was four and a half years.
It’s awkward to admit, as I’m moving nearer and nearer to 40, I am still affected by all of those moves. I had to leave so many people behind and start over again so many times that I still struggle to make and keep friends. I think that a lot of the anxiety that I’ve been dealing with for years stems from never quite feeling at home during my formative years.
I have made a promise to myself and to my son that I will not put him through that.
Allow me to digress for a moment. The longest stretch that I ever lived in the same house was in Canton, Ohio, and was from the middle of my first-grade year through the summer after my fifth-grade year. I loved that house, which, in a rare move, my parents hadn’t built. I loved our neighborhood and the independence and power that I felt exploring it by foot and on my bike.
Most of all, I loved my friends, especially the girl who had been my best friend since we moved there. Leaving that friendship was the absolute hardest part of moving away – my 11-year-old heart was shattered. Because despite promises to remain as close as we’d always been, I knew deep inside that moving almost four hours away would make those promises impossible to keep (especially in the early internet days of the mid-90s).
I don’t think it will come as a surprise that I was right. The friendship remained with waning strength through our first couple of years of college, then pretty much faded away. I reconnected with both her and her mom through social media in the past several years, which brings a warming bit of nostalgia to my heart. However, it also makes me sad, to think of that friendship and others that were lost to distance. Every now and then, I’ll feel a strong pull back to the place of my birth and wish (in spite of where my life has ended up) that my family had never left, and that I’d had a stable childhood.
My son is about to start kindergarten. And I hope and pray that he not only loves his school and learns all of the things his curious brain is craving to discover, but that he begins true and lasting friendships. The community that we live in is full of people that grew up here and returned as adults and of families that have lived here for generations. My husband and I chose to live somewhere we would feel comfortable raising our children at least through the end of their schooling. I hope that our son understands and appreciates that as he grows older.
I do understand that my perspective comes from a place of privilege. I am a teacher and my husband works for a locally-based business, so our careers will not be putting us in the difficult position of being forced to relocate. I am incredibly thankful for this. One, because personally, I think I have already done my fair share of moving. But, more importantly, because I never want my son to have to deal with leaving friends behind and the lasting effects of never really feeling secure that you’ve found a place to call your home as a child or teen.