We moved to a tiny mountain town in Idaho back in March. It still feels a bit strange that we don't live in Salt Lake City anymore - where I was sure we would stay until the kids graduated from high school. Sometimes, living here in our new town feels like we're squatters, even though we legitimately bought and moved into a lovely home with all of our possessions. I guess it still takes some getting used to, even four months later. I know part of that is the location - it's a vacation town where people dream of moving, or where the more wealthy folks among us have their vacation homes in which they can only visit on the weekends. Yet, here we are, planted here as permanent residents, among the mountains and the beautiful lake and the ice cream shop that gives you a pint of ice cream in a "kids scoop."
There are about a thousand reasons why we moved here, but the biggest one was what we're calling "integration." For years, Erik would leave for multiple weeks at a time (sometimes a whole month!) to do his job in the summers, to go work with and among people we never knew, in places that were foreign to my children. It was almost like he had an entirely different life and the kids had no concept of what he was doing, who he was with, or where he was going. Our lives - Erik's, mine, the kids' - were really, really disjointed. Our work, play, and family lives were in these separate silos that rarely crossed over. While Erik's travel was harder on me when the kids were toddlers and babies, it's been harder on the kids now that they're older and understand that dad's gone, having to constantly adjust from two parents to one, then back to two. They're the toughest kids I know and can weather just about anything, but should kids have to be tough all the time? That was a hard question to ask of ourselves.
Anyway, the opportunity for us to move presented itself and it was a no-brainer. The school district is the best in the state, even here in this tiny town. The opportunities for the kids to gain some independence (why yes you can go ride your bike in the woods by yourself for a while, have fun!), live in a quieter place, and spend more time outside is important to us. Living in this small mountain town, on a quiet street with amazing neighbors and other kids their age allows Erik and I the opportunity to be the parents we've always wanted to be, but couldn't because we lived downtown in a big city. But more than that, the kids have been able to do something they've never done before - go to work with dad.
In fact, we all get to go. Last week, there was a four-day trip down the Lower Salmon river that was launching on Thursday, and Erik had to go and launch the new gear boat. We decided on Wednesday morning to pack up and join him. Why? Because we could. We got four days of time together on the river, where the kids chased frogs, used the boat like a diving board & jumped into the river a million times. They took the paddle board in calm waters and played capture the flag on the beach with the guides and other kid guests.
Now, the only thing Scout manages to talk about is wanting to be a river guide when she gets older, and Rowan wants to be "the boss" one day.
Finally, my kids get it.
It's not to say there haven't been challenges with moving. There have been countless. Big transitions are hard, even if they're the best choice and a great move for everyone. There's still grief, new expectations, disappointments, and vulnerability. I think we're finally getting over the hump of the difficult season, but I don't want to speak too soon.
But even in the midst of all the complications and tears and heartache, I feel so affirmed in our decision to move. I feel like we're all a part of each other's lives more and more, that we're becoming more integrated as a family by the day. It still feels weird to have Erik go to work in the morning then come home for dinner during the summer months.
Weird, but also the best ever.
The kids are outside about 99% more than they were when we lived in the city. They've even taken to sleeping on the trampoline "Because it's summer and it's awesome." They crush the skate park and swim in the lake and try to catch fish with their hands. They play outside until the sun goes down and they've slept better here than they have in years (and I have good sleepers already). They can go days without looking at a screen, which is A MAJOR HUGE BIG DEAL in our house. They have friends their ages who live mere yards away and their parents have become our friends (the types of friends who immediately, without asking, hand you a glass of wine as you walk into their backyard).
As a family, we've been together more than we've been apart and that alone makes me feel like this is it. We've found our place.
It's a beautiful thing.