Sad: I remember talking to a friend (who was at that time a new friend) shortly after moving to Virginia. She asked me how I was liking it here, and I told her I liked it a lot. She was relieved, because after having read what I wrote on here about everything I loved about Cincinnati, she was worried that I wouldn't like it in Virginia. Well, she had nothing to worry about. Virginia, especially this little part of it that we currently call home, has been an amazing place to live. I love all the flowering trees throughout the spring, summer, and fall. I love the public transportation that can get me all over the greater DC area without me having to drive or parallel park. I love our townhouse, our neighbors, and our neighborhood. I love walking to the pool, the school, the playgrounds, the shops, the grocery store, and the gym. I love the ward family who has been so welcoming and kind to me. I love all of the community events. I love catching up with old friends from all over the country who have also ended up in and around DC. This has been a lovely place to live, and I will miss a lot of people when we leave.
Scared: I'll admit it. I'm a little scared. Some of it is generic fear; I attend these classes and read the informational emails about culture shock, depression, and the necessity of resilience, and I think it would be naive to not recognize the challenges that lie ahead in this transient lifestyle we have chosen of culture hopping all over the world, so I am scared that my children will blame me for never providing them with a hometown. (But I will always give them a home! It will just be our family instead of a place.) And then there is a little bit of fear about our actual post and its violent past. But, it would be dangerous, I think, to ignore the fact that Juarez is still in the process of emerging from its blood-stained history. But the fear will be useful rather than immobilizing. It will help me remember to set the alarm and learn where I should and shouldn't go in the city.
Excited: Guys, I love new places. I love the challenge of learning new words, and I'm prepared for sounding like a child as I try to grasp all the verb tenses. I love eating Mexican food, and I am excited to learn how to make more Mexican dishes. I can't wait to hear my children start speaking to me in Spanish and English. I won't miss cold weather (I don't think I will at least). I am excited to meet my new church family, my consulate family, and my neighbors. After having many friends who are Mexican, I am really looking forward to actually living in Mexico and learning more about their home.
So, that's me these days. Trying to balance all of those emotions and keep the house clean.
While I'm discussing me, I had lots of extra emotions two weekends ago. I left my children! For the first time since Jill was born, I left my kids! It was just for the weekend, so we didn't have to get a babysitter, and other than missing me a little bit, they had a super fun weekend with Jeff, but it was really weird. I was quite nervous beforehand, and Jeff said, "Just go! Have fun! Go be Mimi Boling again!" And I kind of felt panicked like, "I don't even know who Mimi Boling is anymore!" So much of me is being a mom and a wife that it was (at a risk of overusing the word) really weird to just be me. At the airport, I turned every time I heard a child making noise, but it was never my kid, never my responsibility. I got to read books on the airplane! Very different from my last trip when I was dealing with a child who needed to go to the bathroom when the plane was already descending. (I deserve some sort of supermom award for how that went down!)
I remember sitting on the airplane this trip, talking to a young businesswoman, telling her a story about my kids, while I was yelling at myself inside, "She probably doesn't care about your kids! She doesn't know them! She doesn't know you! When did you become such a stereotype??? Stop talking about poop!"
When did I become such a stereotype?
One of my high school best friends picked me up from the airport, and I got to stay at her lovely home that Friday night. We spent Saturday visiting other good friends from high school, and then we went to my graduating class's tenth reunion. There was a pretty good turnout, and it was really fun to see so many of my classmates again. At one point during the evening, I realized that multiple people had said basically the same thing to me. They said how great it was that I am a mom, because they remembered that it was what I always wanted to be.
Now, I remembered that—that my answer to "what do you want to be when you grow up" was almost always "a mom"—but I was really surprised that so many of my classmates, whom I hadn't spoken to in ten years, remembered that, too. Apparently I was more vocal about it than I recalled.
And that is when I realized that I didn't actually mind being the stereotype. I didn't mind answering "So what are you up to these days?" with "Oh, I'm just a mom. I get to stay at home with my three kids." Because anyone who is a mom, knows that it never is just a mom. Being a mom—when you're someone like me who really wanted to be one—is simply the most rewarding and awesome thing to be up to these days!
After the reunion, I spent the night at a different best friend's beautiful home, and then I attended church on Sunday in the ward (congregation) I had grown up in. I didn't cry, but my eyes were definitely wet, as I looked around and saw so many faces of men and women who had nurtured me and loved me during my difficult teenage years, so many parents of children who had grown up with me and helped mold me into who I am today. That church building really felt like home.
Then after church, my friends and I drove to Indianapolis where we went to the wedding luncheon of someone who had an enormous impact on my high school years. And it was really great to see him so happy in the face of the adversity he has overcome.
The best part of the weekend (other than coming home to my husband and kids!) was seeing so many people whom I had loved so deeply and realizing that with some people, it doesn't matter if it has been one year or eight years since you last spoke. The past that you shared together has entwined your lives in a way that ensures you will always be friends.
And that was a really good message to be reminded of as I am preparing to embark on this Foreign Service life, because I know that the next few decades will be full of people who I will love and then leave (or who will leave me), and I am really grateful to know that friendships don't always depend on how frequently you are able to see each other or talk, but on how deeply you communicate when you are together.
After getting home from Indiana, only a few days passed before I went on another trip; this one with my hubby and kids. We drove to Cincinnati to visit Jeff's parents and brothers for a few days. To lighten this blog post up a bit, I will share some pictures of us at the blueberry patch. Look closely.
Poor Danny. Look at his sad face and then his you-better-not-come-back-over-here-again face.