My youngest son and his family are making plans to move to Spokane in the Spring. He is going to school for a degree in Physical Therapy and hopes to complete his studies at Eastern Washington University. Beyond that, it is important to Aaron to have my husband and I involved in the lives of his tribe, which I very much appreciate.
During my kids' growing up years we were chasing my husband's career. We moved from Arizona to Ohio to Florida, back to Ohio, to Michigan, to Washington all at the bequest of corporate mergers. Every time we would begin to feel settled and a part of a community, the powers that be would say once more: "We have good news and bad news. The good news is, you still have a job. The bad news is it's not where you live." And then off we would go again.
It was hard to keep enduring those disruptions, particularly since none of the transitions were of our own choosing. As much as we tried to face each move with an optimistic sense of adventure, too often we felt scared and vulnerable to have our lives bandied about like so many pieces on a corporate game board. There was a time or two when we balked, thinking we'd dig in our heels and stay put - find some different kind of job that wouldn't keep shifting us from place to place. But in an economy that increasingly seemed to require two incomes to support one family, it was important to us to hold on to work that allowed my husband to support two families on one income. He had been married once before and had four children from that relationship. Between his responsibilities to take care of those kids, and the cost of supporting us, not just any job was going to keep us afloat.
We made the choice early on that while our kids were little I would stay home to raise them. They had the advantage of not growing up latch key kids or being shuttled from one babysitter to the next. I read to them every day and took them for picnics in the park. We went to museums and family outings that all of us remember quite fondly. But we had NO money for anything extra, even with Larry's very good job. In order for him to earn enough to keep up with the housing and shoes and school fees and all the rest, he needed a darned good job. So we stuck it out on the coprorate goose chase. We had some great experiences and met fine folks all across the country. But we also made some sacrifices along the way.
My kids pretty much grew up without ever knowing their grandparents or aunt, uncles and cousins. They met them a time or two. I can remember one vacation we took travelling by Greyhound bus from Cleveland, Ohio to Salt Lake City to spend time with my husband's family. Now THAT was an adventure. But despite our best efforts, those long distance treks every year or two just weren't enough for our kids to develop any close relationships with their kin. That was one of the prices we paid by being such corporate nomads.
Now my 30 yr old son is married for the second time and trying to sort out and define what sort of family he will build. Between he and his wife they have a combined tribe of seven children. Don't imagine the Brady Bunch. Think more of a wild aborigine nation. They are great kids. But their household can be far more chaotic and the life issues that come up carry more grit and drama than that silly seventies sitcom ever knew.
Aaron and I are quite close, talking on the phone and/or e-mailing each other pretty much every week. But with his family in Michigan and us in Oregon, it's nearly impossible for me to develop any relationship of substance with his brood. Annual visits just don't cut it. I have been relegated to being the grandma that sends cool care packages. That's not good enough.
My husband and I want to take the kids fishing and camping and geocaching. We want to share holidays, birthdays, school plays and sports. We want to be part of the lives of this next generation. Fortunately for me, my son wants that to happen too. So after many a family council, they've decided to begin planning for the grand migration to the Northwest come spring. They are understandably nervous since they have no idea where they will live. They have a modest income and not great credit, so finding someone to rent a house big eough for their brood at a price range they can afford may be a challelnge. Also, they don't know a soul in Spokane and everything will be strange for them for a while. But all the homework they've done tells them that Spokane looks to be a great town, and they are starting to get excited about reinventing themselves there. Most importantly though, living in Spokane will put them just a little over three hours away from us.
That's a near perfect distance. We'll be close enough to see each other quite often, but have enough buffer distance to allow our visits to be special and planned rather than spilling over into the mundane. So I'm counting the days till they come, looking forward to having a new tribe to read to and take on picnics. Also I've already infected the kids with my love of geocaching. I took them out in the woods of Michigan to find cache there when we went for our time with them this past August. It will be a treat to take them out looking again once we get them to Spokane. A quick search with a Spokane zipcode tells me there are currently 480 hides within 20 miles. That should keep us busy for a while.