This Friday, our little family of four will embark upon our fourth set of round-trip flights. That’s right, fourth. And my kids are only eight months old. And their first trip wasn’t until they were four and a half months old. We’ve pretty much had a trip every month since Christmas. There always seem to be events, holidays, or some other reason we simply must go somewhere. In part, the issue is further complicated by the fact that M’s grandmother, the kids’ great-grandmother, is really in no shape to travel from Florida to the frigid North. (She was freezing when she came to see them when they were born in August.) And so, fly we will.
I’d like to say this will get better with the summer and warm weather. But in my head, we have the potential for four more flights before Labor Day. And this is why, every so often, I think about moving back home to Chicago.
I was always a homebody as a kid. Cried my way through the first week or two of first grade (I missed my mommy), hated the two weeks I spent away at Girl Scout camp (I missed my mommy and hated platform tents). I even transferred colleges to be closer to home (missed my mom and my then-boyfriend). But somehow, at the end of college, I decided a change of scenery was in order. I came to Boston, met M, and eight years later… here I am. Though I’m in some ways more ambivalent about it than I’ve ever been, I also am now very acutely aware of how hard it is to be away from my family.
I have a very large family. Mom is one of seven, Dad is one of nine. Tons of aunts, uncles, cousins, etc live in the greater Chicagoland area. (M’s family is smaller and more spread out, so I’m obviously focusing on “my side,” here.) We’re really into get-togethers. Sunday dinners at my mom’s house, barbecues at my dad’s house (they’re divorced, yet live a mile away from one another… good times!). It has long made me kind of wistfully sad when I’m on the phone with my mom and she talks about my brother and his wife having everyone over for dinner, or when my dad says everyone is going to the White Sox game together. But never more so than now, when I have kids.
I can tell my parents miss them terribly. My aunts and uncles are always asking when we’ll be in town next. I know how much fun it was to grow up in that environment, and I’m sad that my kids aren’t in the middle of all that. And while I’m sure flying with one kid would be plenty of work, flying with two seems somehow exponentially harder. Being unencumbered by a work schedule, I theoretically can go any old time I want. But flying by myself is pretty much not an option, so we are restricted by M’s available vacation days. We discovered that we really aren’t up for the challenge of “lap infants,” so every trip is four increasingly expensive tickets. Ugh.
So I think about packing up permanently for the great, flat Midwest. But of course it isn’t nearly as easy as that. Not only is there the small matter of finding M a new job and selling our house in a terrible real estate market, though that would be daunting enough. But now that I have kids, and the pull to be “home” is as strong as ever, the great irony is that I finally have a social network here. New friends, things I’m involved in… all thanks to the “twin thing.” I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I don’t think I would have nearly the same social support as a stay-at-home-mom if I didn’t have twins. Three cheers for the Moms of Twins club. Not only has it helped me find other MoTs in the area, but it has given me social outings (monthly “support” meetings), a sounding board (yahoo group listserv), and a way to get involved (oh yeah, I’ll be on the board starting in May). I’m hopeful that I’d find something similar if we ever moved, but now that I actually want to move more than ever, I have more that I would be leaving behind.
At the moment, I’m staying put. We have no plans to move any time in the foreseeable future. We will fly to Florida on Friday for a week-early Passover (it was too expensive to fly for the actual holiday). We will go to Chicago this summer, possibly twice. We will keep flying. But maybe, one of these days, we’ll actually live near our (my) family, and save the frequent-flier miles for something else.