Twelve years ago, we were newly married, bright-eyed, and bushy tailed; career-minded and ready for a new adventure in the big city. We packed up our U-Haul, leaving all of our family and friends back home in Kansas to make our way to Nashville, Tennessee — but not with hopes of being country music stars. We were following our dreams and desires to move up within our respective careers in video production.
We came, we saw, we lived high on the hog in a lucrative market, and we unwittingly started our family soon after, putting the importance of family under a high-powered microscope. Yeah, that’ll sober you up.
Since then, we’ve weathered life’s storms in Tennessee and have cherished the blessings of good health, great kids, and a sweet little country house close to great public schools. We worked hard to build a good life for our little family.
We make regular visits back home to Kansas over the summer and most Christmases, but every time we make the long trek back to Tennessee, we are faced with that strong, nagging feeling over the only thing that’s missing. I grew up with all of my cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles — but our kids rarely get to see theirs.
The truth is, the older I get, the less important material blessings are, and the more important people get. We have searched at length for job opportunities close to what we have now that would also be near our families, but it’s been a losing battle for the last five years.
So we’ve chosen to act on blind faith and take the gamble. We buckled down and did the work to
get the house ready to sell so we can go home anyway. We padded our savings the best we could in the hopes that the aggressive job searches we started would pan out in time.
We’ve essentially lived in home improvement stores all summer — which the kids found to be very entertaining, like weekend field trips. We did the monumental work of tearing down our old deck, decluttering, packing, cleaning, and taking countless loads to the dump and donation sites. (Nothing will make you more mad at yourself than decluttering a house and getting it ready to sell, by the way.)
Our hard work paid off a lot faster than expected. We put our house on the market and got three offers in the first weekend. So the move suddenly became real very fast — and I, of course, have all of the corresponding mom guilt that comes along with it.
We are giving up our sweet little country house that we all adore, where the kids ran around barefoot chasing fireflies and battling stick swords. We are leaving a fabulous big yard where we enjoyed countless bonfires at the fire pit, spotted constellations in the sky, and squirted the kids on the trampoline with a garden hose.
We are giving up my 10-year-old’s best friend next door and his long-time classmates from school. We are giving up a quiet, peaceful area with amazing public schools where my youngest just started kindergarten, after waiting impatiently to go to school with his big brother.
We are giving up our “big city income” as my husband effectively walks away from his dream job filming hot rods on a car-building television show, which is the same job we moved here for all those years ago. There have been ups and downs here, but he is willing to do this for our family, and the importance of that is considerable.
We are all on board, and that is not to say that it’s impossible for any of these other things to exist elsewhere. It just takes time to start over and rebuild important areas like new jobs and new schools, which are both on the horizon.
So we are keeping our eyes on the prize, because despite all of the things we are giving up, we cherish the things we are gaining.
We are gaining our extended families. For all the imperfections that come along with being close to family, you just can’t beat it.
We are gaining roomfuls of cousins with hands cradling chins around the table as we sing Happy Birthday at simple birthday parties at home.
We are gaining in-person Grandma hugs, lawn mower rides with Grandpa, family cookouts, friendship reunions, and the opportunity to easily spend time with aging family members that won’t be here forever.
We are also gaining simplified, small-town life with the corresponding lower cost of living. The sale of our house will give us a good running start as we choose a new house, which is a welcome relief.
I never want to look back and think to myself, you know we could have done that if we really wanted to. Being close to family is priceless, and it’s a gift I know we will regret not giving the kids in the end.
We had our big adventure. Now it’s time to get back to life’s relationships. We aren’t giving up on our dreams, mind you — we’re just moving them.
It will be hard for all of us to say goodbye to what we’ve built here, so our family back home is on high alert and mobilizing for “cheer up duty” when we arrive.
My 10-year-old’s birthday hits a few weeks after the move, and I’ve promised him that big birthday party at home, whether we are unpacked or not, with rooms full of family and cousins who are waiting for us.
I think that will be just the ticket for all of us. It will be good to be home.