Letting the Cat out of the Bag. A Big Change is Coming…
Six and a half years ago when I left Florida for my beloved San Diego, had you told me I’d lead the life I live today, I would have told you that you needed to stop smoking whatever you were on. I also would have told you it must be something realllly good because me, married? HA!!! And a bonus mother? HA.HA and HA. No way. No how. That was never going to happen.
Until it did.
And now I am going to spill a secret with you I have been sitting on for months. MONTHS! You have no idea how many times I wanted to spill! This is something that had you told me would ever happen in my life I would have told you to seek help. No seriously. I would have said you need a psychiatrist because you were surely delusional.
I’m moving to Northwest Arkansas. Well, we’re moving to Arkansas.
Let that sink in…
I wish I could tell you that every aspect of this decision has been handled with grace and open-mindedness, but I would be lying. The truth is this move has been the cause of the first real fight between the hubs and me. It has been the source of anxiety dreams, months of worry and even feelings of resentment toward my husband and his children.
When I moved to San Diego, it was the first time in my life I made a move for me. I worked hard (SO hard) to build a life here, and one of which I am proud. AND.I.LOVE.SAN.DIEGO. I can imagine what people will think. But I am human. I am not perfect. And this is real life.
So the truth? I have struggled. I don’t want to move. I don’t want cold winters. Heck, I went to Colorado for three days and came back with pneumonia. A three-time cancer survivor, I do not want to be away from world-renowned medical facilities, my doctor and my surgeon. I don’t want to give up the freedoms we have in San Diego. I don’t want to leave seeing my colleagues on a regular basis – well as much as I can for the travel I do. I don’t want to live in a place that denies equality because someone happens to love a member of the same sex. I also don’t want to live in a place that has a problem with the President not because he’s a Democrat, but because he’s half black (oh and I have heard earfuls). I don’t want to live in a place where people have an issue because I sometimes speak Spanish. I don’t want to leave friends. Hell, I don’t want to change my driver’s license or live somewhere land-locked. I don’t want to answer, “Arkansas,” when people ask me where I live. And yes, I know some of these things seem shallow and petty. But they’re true. San Diego is part of me. An important part and anticipating a goodbye is SO.fucking.hard. But as I type this paragraph, I am not without the realization it is full of “I’s”. And my life is about “we” now.
My husband is a father. And his girls have been without him almost six years. That is a lifetime to a child. When he and I met, it was with the best of intentions when we discussed that we would stay in San Diego. I was already here living life. The girls “were used to” this arrangement. Truly, I did not know any better. And as ridiculous as it may sound to you, I don’t think he did either. In hindsight we came to realize that it is not possible to get used to missing your dad or missing your kids. Really, how do you get used to saying ‘goodbye’ for months at a time? How do you get used to cramming months of growing up into a week or two, a few times a year? And how, as a dad, do you ask your children to continue to live with a “once in a while” visitation schedule because your wife hates the cold? One of the reasons I Love the hubs so much is because he WANTS to be with his children. His girls adore him. It is truly one of the most profound sights to behold this man with his daughters. I will never be able to fully grasp that bond, but I know enough to know that there is not much in life that can compare to the love a parent has for a child. And I know all too well that life is fleeting. We have the here and now and the girls have had enough “heres” and enough “nows” without their dad.
And whatever you want to call me – bonus mother, stepmother – well , those beautiful girls are in my life, too. How do I bond with them – REALLY bond with them from 1,800 miles away? How do I ask them to give up their dad because I’m too selfish to put up with winter and then to trust me at the same time? The military will no longer be the reason keeping us. It would be ME keeping us. And I cannot do that. I will not do that. So in July, we move.
Now, before you think I have completely shut myself off to keeping my mind open, I have actually come a long way. Sometimes perspective takes longer than it should, but believe me when I say it has finally shown up. And my mom, she has so much wisdom and has been tremendous in helping me to navigate my emotions. A big bonus of the move is I will be closer to home and to my family. I will get to introduce the girls to more of me – Florida and where my love affair with the ocean began.
Yes, leaving is going to weigh heavily upon my heart, but that is nothing compared to how it shatters each time I have to say goodbye to the girls. It’s nothing compared to trying to hide my tears as I watch my husband’s youngest fall apart, her mom left to pick up the pieces for days. It cannot compare to a fifteen year old telling me about the conversation her mother had to go through with her when she found out her dad was leaving for the Navy and how she feared for his life thinking her dad might die defending the country.
When we created our wedding ceremony, we wrote it so it would include the girls. When I read my vows, I made a commitment to creating a home for ALL of us. We symbolically showed and promised them that their place will always be in the center of our lives. It’s time. So the next time we see the girls, we will not have to plan the ‘goodbye’.
Instead we will keep our promises.
And who knows? Maybe Arkansas needs a bit of Heather in its life. Be the change you want to see in the world? Oh, you can count on that.
Stay tuned, everyone. More to come.