Originally Written: April 18, 2017
I went back and forth on this decision three – count them, three – times before coming to this final result. I can vividly remember telling three different people three different answers to the question, Are you going back home while Alex is gone?
First, I was cautious. “Maybe. I’m not making any plans over the summer, because I want to leave my options open.” The response I got was, “Of course, why wouldn’t you?”
Then, a month went by, and the thought of traveling with two kids stressed me out. Suddenly, I became adamant. I’m NOT going home.
“I don’t want spend tons of money going back to the states when I could explore more of Europe.” The response to that was, “Of course, why would you want to?”
I even went so far as to suggest to my mother that she come over and we take a trip somewhere. The more I got to see over here, the better.
Then it was two weeks before Alex was leaving. My in-laws had just left. Friends were formulating incredible plans with extended family over the summer. Suddenly, I realized 6 months was a long time to be away from loved ones.
I love Germany. I love living here, love sightseeing, love the endless opportunities that have been laid at my feet. My family has thrived this last year. Alex and I have become better parents, better spouses, better workers, better friends by being in a foreign country away from our modern comforts.
Alex has said it from the moment we arrived, but now that it’s been awhile and I’ve gained some perspective, I can finally agree: Moving to Germany was the very best thing to happen to our family.
I don’t want to leave. I mean, I do. Because I want to further our travels and family adventures, but it will be an extremely sad day when the next set of orders hit. Every single time I go for a long walk in my village, I make a point to stop and take a 360 degree turn around and try to soak up what I’m seeing. I am aware I have a limited window to capture what’s before me, and I want to grasp those images and keep them forever. I already know a lot of the experiences I am a part of will fade over time. How in the world will I truly remember what a doner tastes like in 40 years? But hopefully, the sight of my home in the spring will stay with me forever.
I write all that to emphasize the fact that I’m not miserable or sad or lonely. I’ve been afraid to say or post anything about this trip because spouses tend to catch a lot of crap for going back to the states while their better half is deployed. Well, not even when anyone is away for work…really, people catch grief for going back home. Period.
I didn’t want that kind of judgement.
I worried others would hear my news and go, “Oh, she must hate it here.”
Or, “Can’t handle the kids by yourself, eh?”
Neither of those statements are true. Not in the slightest.
What is true is the simple fact that I miss my family and I miss Florida.
I never completely grasped the concept that your heart can be in two places at once until living here.
This is my home. For two more years, this is where my feet are stuck, where my heart is most comfortable, where I want to return to when I’m away. I want this place to leave a mark on me, influence my kids in ways I can’t see, where I continue to grow.
Florida is my home, too. It’s familiar and safe. It’s where I identify myself with and claim a calling to. At the end of this long journey the military has sent Alex and I on, Florida is where we are going to return and settle down for the final time.
Frodo traveled across Middle Earth and never once regretted his decision to do so, but when that story ended it wasn’t Rohan or Gondor where he signed off. It was his cozy hobbit hole in the Shire.
So, I’m calling a time out on my European adventures.
Alex and I have many, many more exciting plans for when he returns. We’re going to see and do more; we will. No doubt about it. The fact of the matter is, though, Alex and I can’t go anywhere right now.
Why not go back to where my seeds are planted? My flower is still blooming brightly here in Germany, but for my own health I need to go water and care for my roots.
I got a fantastic deal on flights. It’s not putting any kind of financial strain on my household, this is hopefully the last year Landon won’t be in school and have a schedule to work around, and I acquired a dog sitter who’s willing to stay in my house and keep Buster as comfortable as possible. All my T’s are crossed, and my I’s dotted, no stone has been left unturned.
Am I absolutely TERRIFIED of flying solo with two kids internationally? Does the sun rise in the east, people?
I am downright petrified.
However, I am trying very hard to live my life outside my comfort zone. If I didn’t do things that scared me, I’d never leave my house.
In the past year alone, I have crossed off a monster list of fears and you know what?
I’m better off for it.
Each and every one taught me that I am a heck of a lot stronger than I give myself credit for. So, yeah, I am going to be THAT mom at the airport. The one that has to make someone switch seats because I couldn’t book three seats side by side. The one that has the screaming kids. The one that’s nursing her toddler aged daughter in front of everybody. The one that’s giving her four year old too much screen time.
All because I want to spend three wonderful weeks laying on the Gulf Coast of Florida, grilling shish ka bobs with my dad, listening to the peacocks scream at my in-laws, and recharging my mental batteries. I am going to get to wear all my sandals and tank tops and bathing suits; I’m going to eat a Moe’s burrito and Chick Fil A fries and a Dairy Queen blizzard.
And yes, I’m even going to Disney for a few days.
If Florida is my home, then Disney is my heart and soul. My family is a Disney family, and if I have the means to go, I’m going to take advantage of that ability. Nobody else needs to be able to comprehend why I get goosebumps when I see Spaceship Earth lit up at night or why Alex and I can’t walk through Talking Mickey’s queue without laughing. To know me is to know my passion for Disney, and that’s all the reason I need.
Besides, my mom and I took Landon to Disney during Alex’s last deployment. It’s only fitting we do the same with Evie.
This is happening. I have a lot of fears. (Will the flights be hell? Will any of us get sick? Will my puppy be okay with a stranger?)
But I have zero regrets.
Bring on the sun, the sand, and the Seven Seas Lagoon.