I want my kids to grow up and move away from home. At least for a little bit. And not just away from the family home they’ve been raised in, but also away from the hometown they know.
I chose to stay at home and commute to the local college for my freshman year, and although I had a bit more freedom with my newfound adulthood, I still lived under my parent’s roof and followed their rules. I got married at the end of my freshman year and after a week-long honeymoon, we packed a U-haul to the brim and left the Florida Panhandle for North Carolina.mo
I was terrified.
For one, I had no idea how to be a wife (but that’s a blog for another day). And two, I had never lived anywhere other than my tiny, one stoplight town. I come from the kind of place where everyone knows everyone’s name, and their grandma’s, and what street you live on. I grew up in a special place full of family and community. I was loved, safe, and secure in my surroundings. I never wanted to leave, but the boy I loved (and still love) did and wanted to follow a job opportunity, so we hit the road.
I want to say I never looked back, but I did.
I cried the first hour of the road trip, completely sad to leave everything familiar and all the people I loved. I was scared to embark on a new adventure. What if we failed? What if we couldn’t pay our bills? How would I make friends? I’d had the same ones for over half my life. I wondered if I even had the capability to create a new community for myself in a place I had literally never been to before.
I want to say I adjusted well and quickly, but I didn’t. I wallowed in self-pity for a while. I felt overwhelmed by the new, big, city I was in. I had no idea where the grocery store was, I couldn’t recognize a gas station, and I surely had no idea what parts of town were “good” or “bad.” The job opportunity my husband had there only lasted a few months, a summer gig for a college kid, and then we were back home to the familiar people we know and love.
Leaving everything I called home for the first time changed the trajectory of my entire life.
I needed that kick in the butt to become an adult, if that makes any sense. I had to question everything I’d been raised with and in, and decide if that was right for me. I had to come to terms with being uncomfortable, independent, and on my own. I had to learn, in all honesty, how to become my own person. It helped me find courage I never knew I had, buried deep within myself. Not only that, but it allowed my husband and me to focus on our marriage without anyone else around. We were able to be just the two of us instead of “so-and-so’s” kids/siblings/grandkids. That first time leaving home experience has given me the courage to try new things and move to new places (we’re already on our fourth city in six years if that tells you anything!).
Going somewhere no one knows you is freeing.
I want this for my kids. I want them to be able to discover themselves on their own terms. But do I also want them to eventually come back home and live down the street from me? Of course.
I want them to be able to find the bravery to leave the comfort of home and figure out how to flourish on their own. I want them to have to deal with the uncomfortable. I want them to figure out how to find their feet in an unknown place. I want them to see that the world is larger and more intricate than the things they’ve always known.
I also want them to always know Mama is only a phone call away whenever they need me.
I want my kids to find the freedom that “home” is wherever they make it, with whomever they make it. Nothing replaces the family that helped raise you, but the world is waiting.