Friends back home might see our pictures and hear our stories of traveling abroad and feel little pangs of envy for our lifestyle. Overseas assignments work both ways though; we enjoy the opportunities we have while we navigate new parenthood without the help (directly, at least) of our own parents.
I saw a photo not too long ago of someone who was a close friend of mine a few years ago. He and his wife (also a long-time acquaintance) had their first child not long after we had Small Shaw, and the photo his mom posted on Facebook showed the two of them asleep, feet to feet, on his mother’s big, sectional sofa. The caption said something about how Grandma loved watching the baby while New Mommy and New Daddy got some much-needed sleep.
It’s been a week since I landed back in Germany after our trip to The States, and I still feel a little lonely for my family. Small Shaw hasn’t slept well since we got home, and I’m feeling awfully tired. Nick’s been sick, rendering him unable to help much with Small Shaw, and work has him more or less inaccessible at the moment, anyway. Seeing my friends sleeping so peacefully on those fluffy pillows beneath soft blankets made my eyes well with tears. I was so very envious, and frankly, the post made me miss my mom.
It’s difficult to equate our life to the life our friends are living. We got to spend a long weekend in Venice this summer, taking our 4-month-old on gondola rides and eating pasta and fish on the Grand Canal. Our friends were able to rest, peacefully, while someone they trusted watched their 3-month-old. Gondolas and Grandmas. Apples and Oranges. Pangs of envy on both sides, I’m sure.
Would I trade our experiences for theirs? It’s not even a question worth asking. We’re given decisions in our lives, and Nick and I have made ours: the Army is our home until he reaches his retirement age. This lifestyle is fun at times, and we’re glad that we feel strong enough as a family to endure the frequent moves, extended separations, and unpredictability of his service to the military.
A week after landing back in Germany, I still feel lonely for our families. On the other hand, the distance makes me feel awfully lucky to have the kind of family that you miss after saying goodbye. I’m glad for my friends that they have a family like that. I’m happy for us that we do, too—because if we didn’t, then being apart wouldn’t be so hard. In that respect, I’m counting my loneliness as a huge blessing.
I hope your new week is touched by relationships with people you would miss if you lived far apart. That, by my calculations, means we’re doing something right in this life.