Our 2-year-old daughter recently came to understand what the camera with the blinking green light in her room is there to do, so in the morning these days it is not unusual for me to watch her squirm to life, wriggle her way to her feet, flash her open eyes toward the lens and greet me with the sing-songy “heyyyy dada” that I hope will ring in my head until the day I die.
We make breakfast together in the morning — her cracking, discarding and “stirring” the eggs, me guiding at least most of the eggs’ contents into the bowl and then the pan — before we dine and she urgently shares the endless thoughts that cross through her mind. She is brilliant and funny and kind and sincere, and she is full of love and life. She has a brother now, too, a perfect little boy my wife and I have known for just a month and with whom we all are achingly in love.
So it has been difficult in the last few weeks to explain to her that so much of her world is about to change.
We are moving to the Chicago area to raise our family, back to where my wife and I were raised and back to where our little ones’ aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, whom they’ve mostly never met, can see them on a regular basis. Eventually our kids are going to love it, and we’ll love watching them grow up around their family and in the kind of community that instilled in us many of the things we want to instill in them.
I, in a vacuum, don’t want to leave. I fulfilled a long dormant teenage fantasy six years ago when I packed up my car, hopped on the highway, and drove west to start a new career and a new life in a place I’d barely heard of. And in a lot of ways it was everything I hoped it would be. I felt a kinship here, and especially in journalism, that I’d never had before, and I did things that a city kid from a very flat part of America never expected to get to do.
Of course, I don’t live in a vacuum (this is the part of the story where some of you without kids roll your eyes and scoff), and as one of those eye-rollers for many years, it can be strange to reconcile that everything everyone says about parenthood — the way it changes your life, and your priorities, and how you just can’t explain it but have to experience it — is true.
In the last month our lives have felt like what I imagine careening through a hurricane feels like, but there are moments like breakfast, like the way she says “thank you” (tu-tu), the way she hugs, the way she sings, the way she serves cake, or reads books, or talks on the “phone,” or, like she did this morning, vigorously wipes her stuffed puppy’s rear, shaking her head and repeating a disappointed “poop everywhere” as she scrubs his matted albeit poop-free fur, that make everything stand still.
I will miss Montana, we will miss our friends and I will miss this job, but couldn’t be more excited to be bringing my family home.
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