Home is where the...uterus is?

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So first, yes, I am at BlogHer 09. And I promise I will tell you all about that, just not tonight. Tonight I am exhausted, and overwhelmed, and thinking about something else altogether.

I had this conversation, with a group of women I had never met before (aside from Skye), about the desire to go home. One woman, whose name has already totally escaped me, said that as soon as she had a child, her desire to go home intensified dramatically.

Of course it did. I've thought of that before, of wanting not just to go home, and not just to have a baby, but to go home and have a baby. But, for whatever reason, that thought hadn't carried out to its logical conclusion:

If Mark and I decide to have a child, we will quite likely begin trying to conceive said child within the next five years. I'm about to turn 30--more than five years out, it starts to get a bit more difficult to do, or at least that's what I'm told. And if we try to conceive within the next five years and are successful, we're going to be having a baby in Virginia. An entire continent away from home.

To say that I am horrified by that thought would be a radical understatement. Austin was far enough from home. But the East Coast? How is that even a possibility? How could I possibly even consider having a child over 3,000 miles away from my mom? 3,000 miles away from trees? 3,000 miles away from proper mountains and proper rain and proper coffee?

This is another one of those things that just didn't used to happen to people. We never used to be so mobile. And sure, there are telephones and Skype and air travel, but the bottom line is that when you are geographically far away from someone (or somewhere), they aren't part of your life in any real way. Especially given hyper-stressful day-to-day situations, like, oh, say, a baby's first years.

For the first time in months, I am seriously rethinking whether or not I want to have a child in the near future. I've been getting more and more gung-ho about the idea of starting to think seriously about it, and maybe even starting to do something about it in a year or so. Now I'm not so sure. I know we won't be going home for five years or so, and even then, there is no guarantee. The reality may well be that I never live in Oregon again. I can't much bear that thought, but there it is. And I find it just as upsetting as the idea that I may never have a child. Both of them are things I've started to want so much that I almost assume that they are in the future, just around the bend, even. But it's quite likely that they aren't. And what happens then?

10 Comments

I couldn't read and not comment... but I'm not sure that I know what to say here. :(

Very thought provoking post. I'm due with our first in 1.5 weeks. My due date is the day after my 35th birthday, so I understand your thought process there. My mom is 200 miles away (in Dallas) and that seems like just the right amount. My ILs are 100 miles away. I'd like to think I could try out this parenting thing far away from family, but acknowledge that it would be hard. I think the key is to find a strong community wherever you may be. I've been amazed by the support from near strangers in the Austin area via groups like AustinMamas. Don't discount the virtual communities either. I've seen tons of cyber support and true friendships rally around babies too.

This is a really interesting post (I found you from MDC a while ago). I have children and though I live where I "grew-up," for the most part (Maryland), my entire immediate family is on the west coast (CA, Seattle, BC). You're right-- raising children far away from your family is difficult and I certainly wish we lived closer. I plan for the days where we can live closer.
But even though we manage without that familial support, and even though I've noticed that I and my siblings have gone through large life changes without the others being their in an intimate way, I am still glad that I have my children.

Glad is a huge understatement. I think in the scheme of things, where you raise your children is not as important as how you raise them, and having them period can in no way be compared to (or weighed against) the place where you raise them (at least for the first few years, when they don't care anyway)

I don't know if it's any consolation, but my parents had kids on the other side of the planet (New York) from where they grew up and where their families were/are (Israel). And believe me, if my parents could do it, then you certainly can.

And hey, if you and Mark decide to have kids in the next couple of years, you know that Cammie and I will be MORE than happy to babysit! (especially Cammie) :-p

Well, as an American living in France, and having had all three of my children in France, I understand your dilemma. But on the other hand, and excuse my French, living far away from where you grew up is a weak-ass argument for not having children.

As much as I long for my children to live near my family, and as much as I want them to love and honor being Americans (and Seattle-ites), I would not have chosen not to have them just because I'm here, which after all is not really a place I want to live the rest of my life.

Please don't take this as an attack- just my opinion. I love your blogs, and visit this one daily (in the hopes of finding a new post!).

Best,
Kelly

Returning your ICLW comment...

I've spent half of my adult life living in the place where I grew up, and have since vowed never to go back.

There are many things I loved about growing up there, and I would like my children to experience some of those things, but not more than I want them (and me) to stay away from the not-so-good things there.

Instead, they will be born in a place where people have annoying accents and lame slang, and where many of their neighbors have never been outside the time zone.

We will move somewhere else, hopefully before they're old enough to pick up the lame slang.

Region is less important (and less influential) than the various larger cultures in which we will embed them or the subculture of our family.

ICLW:

"And sure, there are telephones and Skype and air travel, but the bottom line is that when you are geographically far away from someone (or somewhere), they aren't part of your life in any real way. Especially... oh, say, a baby's first years."

I have "been there" and still am, living in the UK for 14 years, while my parents are on the East Coast U.S.,& the rest of the family is scattered across North America. When I moved here, my husband agreed to an eventual move "home" (10 yrs). It hasn't happened . Meanwhile my parents are about 75% resigned to it not happening.

It never would have occurred to me not to go ahead and have children. While I know what you mean, I wanted to tell you that you are selling yourself, and those people you love, short.

About being a part of your children's lives in any real way: It does take hard work, but with my children approaching 6 and 10 years old, I can say that the hard work has paid off. They used to get bedtime stories read over the phone - you need a good calling plan -and now speak to my parents on the telephone 3 or 4 times a week (I had to scale it back from every day). We do a 3-week visit once a year, & they come here for a week once or twice a year. My parents know the names of their teachers, English cousins, friends, stuffed animals & favourite books. Caveat: they cannot tell one Pokemon, Ben 10 alien or Gormitti from another.

Basically, I make my children accessible to my parents, even sometimes calling them in the last 10 minutes of dinner-prep, so Grandma & Papa keep them occupied & out of trouble while I get food on the table...I think of it as virtual babysitting. My daughter now calls her grandmother for heart to heart talks about how Mommy is horrible (moi?), or her brother is driving her crazy, or guess what Mommy and I did!

It's not always easy and I have longed for the mother/mother-in-law nearby who would help, love & support us. However, in the final analysis, I have discovered resources within myself I did not know I had.

You seem like a strong, forthright woman who knows what you want from life. Keep your eye on that image and move forward as if you will absolutely have it one day. My instinct is that you will find a way. I truly wish you get there, sooner rather than later.

P.S. I recently got my husband to agree, in principle, to a move. I have no doubt that we will end up in the U.S. one day, but not sure where. Probably not within "just thought we would drop in" range, but closer than the 3,000 miles it is now.

That's interesting. It had never occured to me that the two would be the same - I grew up in a small town and I have no interest whatsoever to return to it, especially to raise a child. The only time I have seriously pondered having children, I would have been having them in Scotland, with my family back in Canada. If I got pregnant now, I would be okay with raising my baby in Korea (though not educating a child here.)

I just want to comment from the other side of the coin. My parents are both from Holland. My sister and I were born in South Africa, lived in France for a few years and then the US since 1981. The rest of my extended family was all over the world, with grandparents in Holland. We saw my grandparents every year or other year and my cousins, aunts, uncles, every other year to much less, depending.

I just got back from a family reunion where I hung out with all 48 family members on my mom's side. It was amazing how close I felt to everyone although since I've been an adult I've seen folks seldom. I felt very strong connections to everyone based on the vacations spend with family as a kid. And I feel super close to my grandma and I know she feels close to me as well.

Yes - my parents made huge efforts to fly my sister and I to Holland to see family every other summer during my childhood. And it paid off - for sure! So you can definitely live far apart and have great connections. I think it's only easier now with the internet. I'm 32 so only phones and letters and in person.

Happy ICLW!

Just a random sort of goes with what you just said note; I love in Oregon! I've lived here all but 3 or so years of my life. I can honestly say that I love this state. I may not care for the itty bitty town I live in, but the state on the whole is fantastic!

There is no way I could have a baby without family close by. We're done with family building and if something were to happen and we got pregnant, I would go insane! For many reasons. My dad and my sister live in Bend and my mom passed away. There is no way I could do it without their support, especially my mom's. My in-laws do live closer then my dad and sister, but it isn't the same. So, I can totally get what you're saying. I think if one is close to their family, it would be hard to start one without that support.
*HUGS*

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