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Living far away from home: Friends are the family you choose

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I spend a lot of my time striving to create for my kids the solid foundation my parents gave me. It’s a lot of pressure because I had a great childhood. One of seven kids, there was never a dull moment. Endless memories were made in the house we grew up in and sometimes I wish I could go back and hang out with that motley crew again, just for a day. Or that my kids could.

Our house was “the place to be” and on any given day you could show up unannounced to join in on a game of whiffle ball, kickball, basketball or football. Flashlight tag nights at our house were the stuff of small town legend.  On a good night, at least thirty kids could be found running after each other in the dark, laughing hysterically until it was time to go home. 

My sisters taught me everything I needed to know about life: friends, kissing, shaving, periods and how to mask alcohol breath while slipping in after curfew while my brothers were my ever grounded, no-nonsense influences.  They gave my parents plenty to worry about with occasional unexplained all-nighters with girlfriends, midnight police escorts home and bags of pot on the floor of our minivan but these things gave them just enough of an edge to be considered “cool” while managing to remain good students, nice people…great brothers…

When we moved to Colorado from the East Coast, the first unexpected feeling I had was one of vast emptiness. My husband and I have always been the type of couple that likes to “go it alone.” We’ve shared adventures together all over the United States. I didn’t expect to feel this immediate loss. This was a temporary adventure, after all. I’ve always said the only thing I don’t absolutely love about living here is the distance from my family and that is still true.

What I’ve realized now that we may be leaving soon (isn’t that always when we realize these things?) is the friends we’ve made are our family. Waves of awareness crash into me when I’m enjoying a lazy spring afternoon out at the playground, chatting away with my girlfriends while our kids play together effortlessly …or when I watch my daughter walk home with her gang of school buddies, chattering away about a group playdate at our house…or when my son sees his next door neighbor friend come outside and they run, cheer and jump for joy at catching sight of one another, if only for a moment…or taking a trip to see friends and watching our kids pick up where they left off, the way cousins tend to do…

My daughter asked a few weeks ago, “Mommy, why do we even make any friends if we just have to say goodbye to them?” It didn’t take either of us long to come up with the answer.

Love to my family. You know who you are.

 Sarah Stith lives in Boulder with her husband and 2 children (3 and 6) while her husband attends grad school. Before moving to Colorado, the family lived in Brooklyn, NY where Sarah worked as a dresser at The Lion King on Broadway. She now works from home and manages to find time between breaking up arguments to build her organization, “Raising Little Heroes”, a group devoted to finding volunteer opportunities for families with young children. She also writes about her life on her blog, A Day in the Life of My Little Brood.

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber Johnson April 22, 2014

    Love this post. I’m really far away from my family and the older I get, the harder it is, probably because I realize just how fragile life is. However, our friends here are amazing and they are, indeed like family.

  • comment avatar Martie April 22, 2014

    We moved away to school and lived several years away from any family. ANd now we’re back and never moving again. I feel so happy to be surrounded by people we love.

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