A few weeks ago we came up on the one year anniversary of our move to Washington.
One whole year spent 1500 miles away from our friends and family.
It’s been an interesting year to say the least. I would be lying if I said the entire year was easy, but it wasn’t for many of the reasons you might initially think.
Being a little pod of three people was hard. Most of our tribe is back in NE and KS (though I have tribe mates all across the United States these days and am lucky for it). Still, we were three in every sense of what that means. We had to rely on each other for everything. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.
When Ryan and I got somewhat backed up or had a rush of orders with our online business, there wasn’t really anyone readily available that we could call to take Elle for the afternoon. We have friends that would do it here of course (and bless them for being so willing), but we never wanted to bother them. We had to power through that struggle alone and that meant many, many late nights. It meant so many nights where we didn’t go to bed at the same time followed by other nights of purely crashing and not waking up till someone forced us.
We didn’t go on a date outside the house this entire year. Ryan and I had one solo time together during our trip to Denmark, but outside of that, I literally cannot think of a single time we intentionally left the house, just us, to go hang out together. I might be drawing a blank, but the fact I can’t remember any of those times at all is hardly a good sign.
That doesn’t mean we didn’t spend a lot of time alone. We spent many, many nights in together – every night actually. Our weekends were filled with finishing schoolwork, working on side business (which is no longer a thing we have to do on the weekends and we’re finding so much peace with that). As a whole, our first 9 months here, we literally worked 7 days a week save for a handful of trips where we worked remotely. We didn’t see as much of what we wanted to see for the first 6-7 months. Ryan didn’t have a job the first few months, making his social circle somewhat challenging and then when he did get a job, we were faced with the new challenge of childcare and making sure our schedules worked with Elle’s schedule.
It was hard. I get fatigued even thinking about it.
But, there was so much growth. There is nothing like only having each other to rely on. Where many might go crazy, we spend so much time away from each other, we’re really just looking to reconnect again by the time the weekend comes. In our marriage, this has without a doubt been the most challenging year, but it has helped us see what we can work through and what we can accomplish together. I’d be lying if I said that we were in the best place that we’ve ever been. We’re not. We need to work better on making each other a priority and we need to start doing that ASAP. We are too quick to push our needs off to the wayside.
But where we lack in some areas, we make up for in others. We are a strong family. Ryan is the best dad I’ve ever met and I think even if I was outside looking in, I’d still think that, seriously. I can handle things on my own. We are used to working things out between the two of us to better life for the three of us. We are ready to take on so many more things that we otherwise took for granted back in NE. The challenges weren’t so much in missing family. The challenges were in really understanding what it feels like to be alone and have to make conversation. To develop a new friend circle and no longer have people around you that know your entire background. The challenge is opening up and putting that effort out there even when you’re exhausted and drained and it’s so much easier to go home and chill. The challenge is in staying connected with the people far away and reminding them you love them, that you didn’t move to hurt them and that they’ll still be a part of your life and they’re still a priority.
The challenges are many, but the rewards are so much greater.
I am so proud of us for even doing this. For saying yes on a literal whim without much thought. For trusting that it would all work out and that even if it was hard, we owed it to ourselves to give it a shot. For convincing ourselves that children are portable and that even though it would be hard to raise our kid without her family surrounding her, we are her family. We are her sense of home. Home is not geographic. It is found within your people.
We’re doing the exploring we always said we would out here. We are challenging ourselves. We’re meeting people who are challenging us and we are challenging them. We are carving out our own little slice of Washington and building ourselves a family here for as long as we’re allowed to stay (cause you know, we’re mobile and everything). We moved as far away as we could because we knew if my job ever moved us again, no matter what we’d be closer and that would feel nice.
We’re living by our own definition and even though sometimes life pulls and we feel like we’ll break. We’re not. We don’t. We’re coming out ahead, stronger and ready to take on our next challenges.