home by another way…

Sunday, December 9th, 2018

When I was in high school, I had the privilege of attending a week long camp in the mountains of North Carolina with my youth group each summer. There was a different theme each year and it was a moving experience every time. One of the years, the theme was “home by another way”. It made for a cool logo and a neat t-shirt that I wore for decades. I got a lot from that week but I have to admit that the deeper meanings of that theme were not apparent to me until many years later.

I lived in the same house until I was a senior in high school. My father had the same job my whole life. I went to the same church. My parents did a great job of exposing me to diverse people – different skin colors, varying religious and cultural beliefs, political opinion, socio-economic background, etc…, but my home routine was static. No complaint, just fact.

I assumed that my adult life would be the same.

I can hear you all laughing…..

Robert and I have been married 21 years. We have moved 10 times across 5 states. Ten doesn’t sound like a big number. Trust me when I tell you that it is. Keep in mind that 7 of those moves were with 3 children in tow. By the 6th time I relaxed a little and knew that things would fall into place but it is still an incredible amount of work. Every. Single. Time.

Each move was with reason and purpose. We weren’t flitting about the countryside in a van singing and planting wildflowers along the way or anything. Every move was a deliberate and thoughtful step in the right direction. I knew this but I also had this nagging feeling that we were scarring our children for life.

During all of our adventures, our girls were exposed to many different life situations. Sub zero winters with feet upon feet of snow on the ground for months. Communities with great wealth where many parents didn’t have to work at all. Traffic. Beach life with sand on your toes all year. A town with one stop light. Blue collar communities where all members of the family worked to make ends meet. We were at the top of the socio-economic ladder in some places and much closer to the floor in others. We moved during the summer, in the middle of spring, over winter break, in the middle of fall…we have done every possible combination. I just knew that my children would require years of therapy for being hauled around on a journey they didn’t ask to go on.

What I discovered instead is that I am the mother of some awesome children. Our daughters told their “new kid” stories and eased into place. Granted it wasn’t always seamless. There were a few stumbles but that’s life, isn’t it? Life isn’t about always getting your way. Life isn’t always fair. It just isn’t. (If your life has always been easy and fair, I don’t know if we can be friends.) Our girls learned from all of that. They walk into rooms full of new people with confidence. They know how to find a friend in a room of strangers. They are happy just being themselves. It makes me weak with pride. I chalk it all up to the fact that the bond among our family of 5 is as strong as an ox. When you are new in town, you have to find strength and courage in the one place where it is a guarantee…at home. Being that strength for your sisters and even for your parents makes you stronger. Somehow my girls became fearless, appreciative and empathetic. Most of the time anyway…

We moved back home 3 1/2 years ago. It was time and we were ready. We were greeted by family and friends with open arms of love and gratitude. It was a wonderful thing to experience.

Looking back, I wouldn’t change much at all. I certainly wouldn’t take back any of our moves. We have at least one friend-for-life from each place we have lived. Treasures.

If you have never been on an adventure with your family – and I’m not talking about a week out of town – I’m talking about a real departure from your comfort zone…a place where you can only rely on each other…the kind of adventure that brings inside jokes and laughter through tears…you should try it. You can always come home, you just might come home by another way.