Spreading to the winds has always been the modus operand of my family. While my mother was born in California, as were my siblings and myself, none of us live there presently. By the time I was 12 I had lived in four different states in a handful of different homes. This was a consequence of circumstance and, at least to some degree, an almost genetic predisposition to wanderlust. It should come as little surprise that I have since added numerous states to the list (I think I’m at 8 now along with a return to Cali and two Ohio stints). I like this. In fact, I absolutely love it and I hope we have the chance to move at least a couple times during the boys’ lifetime when they’re better able to appreciate it.
One of the unfortunate byproducts of my wanderlust and formerly nomadic lifestyle has been the sometimes significant stretches of time between visits to see my mother. I’ve grown accustomed to this and, for the most part, make sure the visits occur at least once a year. Still, the last time we saw Mom and John (my step-father) was last February. With the boys growing at such a rapid pace, that seems like an eternity.
So now we’ve settle down for a bit here in Toledo; the caravan is retired or at least in extended storage. In putting down roots for the foreseeable future, we did so to be closer to Amanda’s family. I love having Grandma Elva close by; she is an immense help with daycare costs as she takes them twice a week, with occasional overnight care so that Amanda and I can go play and be a couple instead of just parents and with support in general. But… she is not my mother. The boys know Elva as Grandma, but they do not know my mother by that esteemed title.
I love that my mother lives in Tennessee now after having lived in Florida for a number of years, love that my sister is in Georgia and that my brother just moved from Utah to Washington, and I love that the boys have already moved cross country twice. The price of this is a certain distance, geographic in nature, that precludes the idyllic notion of heading over to Grandma’s for dinner or for a quick visit. When neither my wife nor I had this, such as was the case when we lived in California, I paid it little mind. Sure I wanted to see family more often but it wasn’t a daily concern. Now, seeing the boys play with Elva and watching them get to know her so well, my heart aches a bit. It makes me miss my mother all the more and makes me realize that they will not know her the same way they know Elva. Such is the price we pay for, as my mother called it, “spreading you wings and flying to wherever you want to land.”
Happily, we’re headed to Mom’s this weekend. It will be another wing spreading day. The boys will get to experience a new place, get to know another set of their other grandparents, and I’ll get to spend time with one of my favorite people in the world. Then we’ll return and I’ll feel a bit wistful, but I’ll always be thankful for this wanderlust disease. In indulging in it, even if I miss my mother, I know I’m living one of the things she taught me. But yes, sometimes I’ll be a bit envious.