It’s been three-fourths of a year since I’ve tried to write a word for the blog.
There are seasons in life when some things just seem harder than others.
And these last 9 months have been some of the most trying days of our lives.
We knew picking up our lives in Mexico and moving the whole family to Minnesota was going to be hard, but we couldn’t have imagined just how difficult some of the past days have truly been. We have looked at each other, more than once, thinking “What have we done?” We’ve cried a lot (me and the kids more than Walter), missing the street tacos, the sunshine, our nanny, our pace of life....and more than anything, our community.
We said adios to our bright, vibrant, accepting community of people we consider family. Minnesota just isn’t the same, nor will it ever replicate exactly what we left behind.
We don’t have the same exact couples in our lives, who we could call at a moment’s notice when marriage and life just felt too hard and we didn’t know how to tackle the current situation.
We don’t have the same exact kids who were born within months or days of our own, who we called "cousins" and saw every week at playdates or the park.
We don’t have the same "mamacitas", the amazing group of mom friends, who shaped so much of my early and hard days of motherhood. I am crying as I type this, as these women truly have left such a huge and gaping space in my heart that hasn’t been filled yet.
We don’t have the same church, the community that embraced imperfect us and welcomed everyone through its doors with a love we’d never known before.
We don’t have the same date night spots, our favorite local finds where we had the menus memorized and our favorite dishes and drinks on standby.
We don’t have our nanny, our beloved 66-year-old Nicolassa who became a part of our family and loved our kids as her own grandkids and helped us out in so many more ways than just loving our children....this one probably has been the hardest adjustment for us and we’ll never stop missing her.
With all the things we don’t, it’s easy to think about packing up our suitcases and saying adios to this life up north, especially looking out the window at the piles of snow and ice-covered trees.
Mexico was home and in many ways, Minnesota doesn’t quite feel like home yet.
Yet, through it all, there have been a few glimpses of what we do have and that’s what we’re trying to hold onto through it all.
We do have each other, and never before in our 13 years of relationship or 7 1/2 years of parenting have we spent so much time together as a unit, making each day work with the hours of commuting, the packing of school lunches, the endless laundry, the househunting and buying a house, the constant cleaning up after three kids. It’s been so much and there are times we want a break or need a nap, but we’re making this work, together, and it really is something beautiful amid the hard.
We do have my family close by for the first time in fifteen years, though we had to say goodbye to Walter’s brothers and dads, we've now said hello to my parents and siblings and cousins and aunts/uncles and grandmas. There’s something special about being a drive away instead of a few flights away from family.
We do have lovely co-workers and people who have been looking out for us since we arrived looking a bit lost with all the changes and struggling with culture shock. People offering to carpool and pick me up for work, people giving us baby clothes and supplies, co-workers pooling together to get us meals after the baby was born, and an incredible boss who has been so gracious with all the changes in my own life and given me the space and time to adjust to all this newness.
We do have friends, not the same as in Mexico, but we’re reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, and finding joy in these friendships. We’ve discovered that playdates can also happen here, sometimes they just take a bit more planning than the spontaneous ones in Mexico. And thanks to teaching Spanish at my new school, I’ve connected with other teachers from Mexico, Spain, Colombia, and Peru. It’s funny after living abroad how much of my own identity is wrapped up in Spanish and Latin culture, and how much we’ve yearned for it while we’re back in Minnesota.
We are discovering that life can still be beautiful, that freshly fallen snow really does feel magical, that snow days are a kid’s dream true, that Minnesota is truly full of loving and caring people, that there are churches that feel like home, valuing diversity, equality, and social justice.
We don’t have so much that we left behind, but we do have hope.
We have hope that the little glimpses of beauty and the outpouring of kindness and the moments we feel like we’re home will become more and more common as we start making our lives here and inviting others to be a part of our day-to-day.
So much of who we were in Mexico was opening up the doors of our home. Inviting people over for BBQs every weekend looks a little different here in Minnesota with sub-zero temps, but I’m learning that a good pot of chili and homemade bread goes a long way. Throw in wine, pizza, and charcuterie boards and it’s a playdate as it was meant to be. (Maybe I’ll even find or create a mamacita’s group here to help me get through the wild newborn and growing kid stages....).
Little by little, we’re piecing together the intricate puzzle of our lives, finding what fits and what does not.
Minnesota will never be Mexico, but it can be beautiful. And throughout our home, we have pieces of Mexico and Peru that we brought with us, reminding us of beautiful chapters from our past and where our story first began.
And I know that our story isn’t over yet and this chapter, as hard as it’s been, will play an important part. Someday, we’ll look back and marvel at all the obstacles we’ve had over the last 9 months and know we’re stronger because of it.
We’ll have more empathy for others traveling similar journeys and we’ll keep opening our doors and our hearts, because as much as it sometimes hurts and as much as we miss Mexico, we are still us.
All the love, the pain, the good, the bad, the hard, the happy, the salsa dancing, the playdates, the date nights, the BBQs, the pots of chili, the laughs, the cries.....it all plays a part in who we are, and how our story will continue to unfold...as we learn to embrace what we do have even while we mourn all we left behind.
Cheers to this chapter, the changes, and our new life with pieces of our past making it feel more like home.