So Mary's homesick. I can identify some, because I also want to live where we'd get free babysitting and the ability to actually participate in our extended family's life rather than catch glimpses by phone or Facebook. I have five semi-grown siblings, half of whose lives I've missed while away at college or, now, married and with kids eight hours away.
Before both sets of my grandparents died, their homes were our community centers. One lived five minutes from my house, and another 45 minutes away. Growing up, we spent countless weekends and holidays and Sundays and weeknights and piano recitals and random hellos together. Until about age 14, I grew up in the company of a boisterous family that, even if they lived in Minnesota and Illinois, frequently congregated at the halfpoint between the two: Grandma's house in Wisconsin. And then people divorced, and others died, and others moved away. Then we were all on our own. College cemented that separation. Then it was off to the East Coast, thankful to have found a good job, let alone any job given my graduation smack in the middle of the Great Recession.
But even when I got a job I can do from anywhere, we didn't move back. Our biggest reason was that we had searched every time I visited my parents, but there simply were no good churches within at least an hour radius.
As a Lutheran convert married to an LCMS pastor's son, we're serious about worship style and preaching truth. We could put up with weak spiritual tea, but we didn't want to feed it to our kids. If I lose everything in life but know I'll see my family in eternity, that will be enough. So a vigorous church was non-negotiable. And that's why we live in Indiana, not near family in Wisconsin or Montana. We could have gone to my husband's father's church in Montana, but that would have put my family entirely out of reach at 18 hours away rather than eight, and I really don't want to live out in the wilderness with the coyotes. Also, Indiana taxes and government debt are better than many of the other options, and the state is more conservative.
I do sometimes ache to be near my family. It would make raising kids a lot easier, and I would also feel like I could contribute to my extended family's various emotional and relational needs. I could love and be loved. (I also have really great aunts, and who doesn't want to be with awesome aunts?)
But, for one,having toddlers keeps me far too busy to worry about this often. And that means I already have a growing replacement for what I miss. For two, we're tired of moving. Before here, I moved every year for almost a decade. Our new friends here are not as close as family, but we enjoy them when we can and hope to keep knowing them better. Moving would mean starting all over again, again.
So we have a sort of awkward compromise. I don't think we can really expect much better this side of eternity, so I wait with great expectation when I will have endless time to share with my grandpa, and aunts, and cousins, and meet great-great-great ancestors for the first time.
Image by kt.ries.