Okay, so I put this out there in my post on being a med student’s wife, but something that I didn’t mention about the hardship of being a med student’s wife is the displacement. My network is all but gone of my dear friends from my home city. I am slowly rebuilding, and my family and friends are only a couple hours away, but those hours are precious and hard to bridge in the busy days of child-rearing, work, and the general living thing that occurs on a daily basis (surprise!). For me, I like to fill my time with running, writing, and reading when the kids have gone to bed, so, I can deal. I’m a big girl now, after all.
The thing is, as I watch my daughter grow, she reminds me so much of me. And with that similarity growing every day, I find I am struggling once more with that fear that I conquered oh-so-long ago — the oh-so-needling fear of not fitting in. And more than that, of not being wanted. It’s a pretty base and depressing feeling, and I know it stems from a childhood of waiting by the door for a father to show up who had very little interest in me. The bicycling, camping, and swimming trips, where I broke my mother’s heart because I sat in my swimming suit, or with my helmet, or bags packed, ready and waiting until sunset, just absolutely sure that he was coming. He just running late. My hope only gave out when the call came that he’d forgotten, or when I heard my mom make the call, trying not to let me hear her side of the conversation or the anger in her voice. She’d paint a smile on her face and tell me maybe next month or in the Spring.
And it was just me, after all – little, insignificant, unimportant me. So why should I be surprised that he forgot me? That’s what I thought. Even my mother’s family law attorney had a name for me, that I knew was right as soon as I heard it – the wall flower.
As I grew older, the fear trudged around with me, a constant weight on my back. Then I finally thought, what the hell does it matter if no one likes me? Or if the people I like aren’t liking me back? Why spend all this energy worrying over stuff that I probably couldn’t change unless I dripped gold from my lips or could wave a magic wand of liking? I have a husband who loves the heck out of me, a best friend who happens to also be a sister, a brother who rocks my socks off, a loving and sweet little sister, and an amazing core group of friends who don’t care if I have a propensity to stick my foot, ankle, calf and knee in my mouth?
Now that I’m a mother, I really don’t give a shit, because I have two little amazing little hellions that I’m trying to raise to be decent people.
It was a surprise to me, then, when I suddenly felt that needling feeling resurface now that I’m getting my bearing up in this wonderfully large city. Now, that ugly beast rears its head as I look at my three-year-old daughter, who is equally displaced, removed from her friends and family, and the people she knows and loves, I feel that oh-so-familiar ache on her behalf. She probably doesn’t feel it, and I know it’s in my head, but it’s still hard. She no longer has the uncle who lives with her, the friend who is just a 20-minute drive away, the gym buddy she sees every Saturday, the grandparents and aunts and uncles who are all within driving distance – she just no longer sees any of that on a regular basis.
We try to bridge the gap, to drive down as often as possible to see her friends and family on all the major days (birthday parties, baby showers, holidays, etc.), but it’s not really the same. We can’t drive down for a random dinner or play date. And, we simply don’t have the network up here yet. We are super lucky – her uncle (my brother), bless his heart, makes his way up here every month for a weekend, so she always has that to look forward to, but still. I see her now, much like me, starting to hold back at parties, to play by herself, because that’s what she’s used to now. I see that look of uncertainty, the wanting to be there and be bigger, but not knowing where her wings are or what the group dynamics are any more – and my heart breaks a little.
Then my own ancient fear projects itself out – is she feeling that same ache, of not being wanted, of not being loved? I try to pour it on her, but more than anything, I want her to feel it from every source imaginable. Of course, she is loved. Her daddy and I love the heck out of our wild-haired girl. Her nanny and pop-pop love her to pieces and see her at least once a month when they let this crazy-train invade their home. They squeal with joy and my heart swells, because I can feel the happiness and love emanating from them. And, less frequently but not less importantly, she gets to see her grandparents who come and visit from the east coast, but have a hard time, since their other kids are also down in my former-home city, so there’s the clear tug of guilt and being spread too-thin.
We will build the network here, and won’t be quite so reliant on our “home” network (which is awesome, but grows on without us, as is natural), as soon as she enters public school and gets classroom friends that are her age. It will happen, and she’s only three. And my son, well, he has absolutely no-freaking clue what’s going on, so he’s all good. He just points and babbles excitedly at every-goddamn thing which is freaking adorable.
But right now, we’re still figuring out how to survive in a city with much more traffic and a lot more going on. And trying not to be afraid of the possibility that we may soon be ripped out of this newly built network, to be tossed in some other unknown area for residency… Well, that’s all very scary. I figure we’ll tackle that ugly monster when it comes to it. And, I should also note, that while the displacement is difficult – it’s worth it. It’s hard, but every month gets a little easier. And knowing that my husband is training to actually do something he loves and is really good at? That’s priceless.
For now, we’ll just focus on being in the here and now. As my favorite Modern Family episode said, “90% of being a <parent> is just showing up.” So, I’m going to try and bury that ugly little voice in my head, and focus on my just being present for my kids. Anyone extra (and there ARE extras, whom I haven’t and have written about previously), who’re along for the ride – well, that’s just icing on the cake!