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A Letter to Moms Who Left Their Hometown

Photograph by Twenty20

Dear Mom Who Left Her Hometown Long Ago,

I love where I live (away from my small and "boring" hometown). It's been about 20 years now since I moved away. I'm genuinely happy. But as of most recently, I've been better. Lately things have been weird ... surprising ... unsettling.

I blame a few recent weddings.

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I'm learning new things as a mom that my younger self would have probably laughed at. She may have even slapped the current me for admitting this now: The more years that pass, with kids growing bigger and bigger, the more I find that living away from my own family—my own "boring" hometown, my own rooted identity in all things I remember from childhood—is hard. (You too? I'm blaming our kids.)

Moving back is not appealing, yet living geographically detached from the place you spent your own childhood sometimes feels lacking (or is it just me? Maybe it's just me). Living away from your side of the family yet not wanting to relocate back to that same town is a strange and inexplicable split of emotions.

It doesn't make any sense. But I understand.

So what to do? Is there anything to do? Move back? Stay strong?

"So why don't you move back?" some of them question. Because you don't really want to—you've spent years working your butt off to accomplish certain dreams (that your hometown couldn't quite offer the opportunities for) and you've now begun planting new roots with your own family that seem so disruptive to ... well ... disrupt. Moving back permanently also scares you in a way that tells you it's not quite right. Yet every once in a while, you don't feel quite right where you're at now.

I understand. You're split.

"Well, it was your choice to move away in the first place way back when," they say. Yes, it was. And you're still happy with the choice you made. But you're also a bit of a different person now, with a spouse and kids, who affect how you see the world and identify what's truly important in it. No one and nothing could've prepared you for how life changes after you experience the incredible milestones of starting a family life of your own, and those who haven't moved away sometimes have difficulty understanding the nuances within the shift of perspective. I mean, there was no way the "college student me" could begin to grasp a smidgen of what life is like now. Things change. Perspectives change. Priorities change.

I understand. You're split.

"But we see each other a lot, considering the distance!" You do. (Thank God for that! It's one of the things that keeps you most happy.) But it's not the seeing each other part that gets to you, it's the always being out of context part that turns tricky every now and then. Being away from where you grew up can, in some cases, nullify your ability to offer decision-making opinions and insight when it comes to family matters. There are times when your insight isn't taken as seriously as it would've been if you actually lived there. Because you don't live there anymore. And it's true. They're right. You don't.

I understand. You're split.

So what to do? Is there anything to do? Move back? Stay strong? Be happy and content and forget the rest? Ignore those tiny pangs and twangs you feel when you visit what you left behind long ago? It all seems so ... split.

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I understand. Oh, I understand. Stay strong, stay happy, stay split. Accept it. Own it. Love it. Because maybe being split is actually the best part.

With love,

A Mom Who Couldn't Wait to Move Away Way Back When

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