That was seven-ish years ago. The surprise we have felt at not hating life in Houston, and even rather enjoying it, has been noted on many occasions in this blog; and has been accompanied by multiple other surprises since moving here.
Either way, I thought that the decision to leave, when it came, would be a clear and simple one; that it would be easy and obvious. I was wrong. We have found a way around the location-versus-job roadblock, but it is not without emotional and logistical risk. I am able to make a clear list of reasons why it is time to go home to Minnesota. My instincts say that it is finally the right time and for the right reasons, and possibly even under sustainable circumstances, but I do not feel the sense of elation that I expected. I feel good and positive about it, but I also feel a little sad and a smidge nervous to move away from the one version so far of life with oil that has felt largely pleasant and seamless.
Creating a family has always seemed a slightly curious endeavor to me. My husband and I both have parents who raised kids that grew up and promptly moved far away in early adulthood, so a little part of me thinks, 'Really? That's it? Raise kids who then take off and that's it?'. It could definitely happen to us. So if you're not sure whether or not you love kids before you take the plunge, and you know there is a good chance that you will spend outrageous amounts of time and resources for many years raising children who you will then rarely see, then why do it?
The answer to that question came from my gut. I can report that the reasons to do it are complex and intangible, but real. Ultimately, our baby, besides just being a tiny human that I love, has also given us the drive and the clear picture of why and how to go home. The baby and I spend too much time alone while my husband is at work in Angola. My husband likes his job, and I have come to appreciate the quality time we have with him when he comes home, but the long weeks and weekends alone while he is gone are too hard. We have great friends in Houston, but they are busy, too, and anyway it is not fair to them or to the baby that they are the only safety net we have here for weeks at a time. We could hire help to resolve this, but we could also go home.
In short, in caring for our family, I want the village. I want the baby to know his grandparents. I want him to know my other family members. I want to raise him alongside my other friends at home who are having babies and not moving every couple of years. I want him to play outside in air that I know from experience is fresh, and learn to ride his bicycle on streets that are (mostly) unbroken. I want him to swim in the lake that I know to be clean, the one that I swam in growing up. I want to launch his education in a quality system in which I already feel safe and confident. I want to be able to drop him off with my parents for the weekend so that my husband and I can have time to ourselves once and a while, as grown-ups are meant to have. We have put the pieces in place and if we don't do it now, I believe that we will always wonder if we should have gone for it. We could get a nanny, but we can also have the village, so at least for now, we choose that.
There is a chance, and indeed strong likelihood, that we will not want to, or will not be able to, stay in Minnesota for the long term. If it doesn't work out, we will face another move. If that happens, it's a hassle, but on the other hand, what's one extra move at this point? A small price to pay in order to test out a long-held dream, and to improve the quality of both our baby's young childhood and my nascent motherhood.
I'm ready to stop thinking about this old nagging problem so that I can save my energy for the fresh new ones.