When I was little, my favorite game to play was “House”. Whether I was with friends, cousins, or playing alone, it was my go-to. I would pretend to be a mom, have a couple children and a husband and I would spend my day going on errands and taking care of the babies. I would feed the babies, put them down for naps, make dinner, go to the bank and the grocery store, etc. (I even had a stash of deposit slips from the bank!)
I’ve always wanted to be a mom and have a family. I just never dreamed that one day I would have those things but my family (my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins) would be nowhere in sight. When I played “House” my family was always a part of it, or at least it was implied in the subconscious of my game.
I originally moved to North Carolina in 2012 with the intention of coming right back home after I was satisfied with my “break from Boston”. Everyone should explore new territory and live out of the familiar comforts of home, at least for a little while. Whether you go off to college in another state or go abroad one semester or take a leap of faith and try a new city for a couple years, I think it’s important for our personal growth to get away from what we know and explore new places.
That being said, I will also say that growing up in a big, loud, Italian family shaped and molded me into the human being I am today and having that family full of cousins, aunts and uncles contributed to my happiest memories growing up.
Jump to 5 1/2 years after leaving Boston, starting a family away from my family has been extremely difficult. Since I first moved to NC, I have gotten engaged, married, had our first child and bought a house. The cost of living and quality of life is incomparable to that in Boston. The appeal of a nice, beautiful home in a gorgeous neighborhood with bills that we can actually pay each month is quite the comfort.
This has been the happiest and loneliest time of my life. I can’t speak for other mothers but I will say that it is crucial for any new mom to have a good support system around her and there’s just something about having your own mom or favorite aunt by your side to help you through.
As a new mother, you have gone through so much! Pregnancy, crazy hormones, your body changing, feeling fat and ugly and then feeling guilty about not cherishing every second, BIRTH, going through labor and actually birthing a human being!! Having a newborn baby who relies on you 100% for literally everything, and don’t even get me STARTED on sleep deprivation! (The wound is still too fresh to talk about).
Going through the millions of ups, downs, and sideways of being a new mom is no joke and we need the love, understanding, and support of our families and friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t have family around during all of those new life changes and I truly felt the effects. New moms need their closest women who are familiar with such matters to help guide them and shower them with affection. Nothing can measure up to a hug from your mom.
Someone who raised you can look at you and say “You’re doing a good job!” or “You’re such a good mom!” and if you’re living away from your family and trying to raise a family, I don’t have to tell you how imperative those simple words are to hear but the mere absence of them lingers.
We have neighbors who’s daughter lives about an hour and 1/2 away and just recently had a baby. They are always taking turns visiting their new granddaughter and helping their daughter get through the sleepless nights and giving her a break. I knew it would be hard doing this away from our families but I had no clue how hard. I envy our neighbor’s daughter, whom I have never met. The old adage is true: You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
If you’ve moved away from the comforts and familiarity of a particular landmark such as the mountains, I feel you. In my case, I grew up on the ocean. Our beach was literally at the end of our road and my dad’s house was on a bay leading into the ocean.
My dad always had a boat when I was growing up (as did my step-dad) and when I got a little older, my friends had boats and I’d be out there with them all day. I worked at a sailing camp all summer and lived there during the week. Being on a boat of some kind was pretty normal to me and I was never wealthy. Whether I was fishing, pulling lobster traps or taking advantage of a friend’s invitation for an afternoon outing, I have always loved being out on the water. Taking a morning walk on the beach was always a habit when I lived on Cape Cod. I’d go out there when it was snowing! Something about the waves and the smell of the sea makes me feel like home.
Whenever we reach the ocean to the point I have it in my vision, I always tell my husband I feel like I can breathe again. I let out a long, deep breath and everything else seems okay. If you grew up on the water, you know what I mean, but this is true for the mountains for some people or even open fields, for others. We have friends here who are from Oklahoma and I know how badly they miss just seeing wide, open land. I can imagine they must feel claustrophobic here.
Some of us just need certain things to feel grounded and for me, that’s the water. I feel like I can’t breathe without it. I tell my husband all the time, “I just need to drive by it! I don’t even need a ‘beach day’ I just want to SEE it when I’m going about my day”.
Things that have helped me deal with not having certain comforts around that might help you are:
-Going online and finding small bodies of water near me. There’s a huge lake about an hour from here, (it doesn’t have much of a beach, but there’s 1 or 2 restaurants on the water to get lunch, which I have), there’s a tiny lake that has a bike path about 7 miles around to go walk, etc. It’s like giving an alcoholic an O’Douls. It’s not going to get you drunk, but it will suffice.
-FaceTime with family members so they can see the baby and posting lots of pictures/videos. They miss us too!
-Planning play groups with other moms who don’t have family around. It’s nice to know you’re not alone!
-Be thankful for all that you have, every single day. I know how blessed I am, beyond measure. Thank God for all that he has given you and all that he has yet to give. Remember this: God did not put something in your heart that you were never meant to have.
Till next time…