I have been avoiding writing for a while now, for a few reasons. Most of all, I feel like I have so much to say that I don’t know where to begin. All day I think about beautiful or sad or frustrating or encouraging things that I want to share, and then when I sit down in front of the computer I can’t seem to remember. The poetry of life is fleeting and I can’t seem to get the rhythm back when I have the space to let it flow. I want to share everything that has happened in the past five months since my daughter was born. I want to share everything I’ve discovered living in a new place and being a mom of three children. I want to tell you all about homeschooling and how far we’ve come on our journey. I’m just not sure where to begin, because there’s so much, just so much juice we’ve been squeezing out of life during these past months. Some of it has been sour, but much more has been so so sweet, and I want to share it with you.
First, California. From the moment I stepped off the plane with three sleepy children and into Mo’s arms, I have felt the basic different-ness of this place. I grew up in the Northeast, and visited family in the Northeast, and maybe went on a few school trips as far north as Montreal and as far south as Virginia, but that was it until I was twenty-one. That was when I got on a plane with a backpack and a duffel bag and went to visit my boyfriend in Israel where he was getting his Masters degree. I stayed for two years and came back married and with a beautiful baby boy. Fast forward, and we’ve moved from Israel to New York, to Israel again, to New Jersey just long enough to give birth to my first daughter, to Miami where I gave birth to my second daughter, and now to California. Each of these moves has given me the chance to see a place with new eyes. Once we become familiar with a place, the new eyes are gone and everything is imbued with our experiences and memories. I understand now why people love to travel, partly just for that incredible sensation of being new again, because we are seeing ourselves for the first time in a new place.
As I imagined it, the Bay area would be a liberal, sort of hippie, forward thinking place. People would be a bit friendlier than in other cities I had lived in, but maybe less “real.” Beyond that I didn’t have many expectations except for the food. I imagined the food would be awesome. I haven’t been let down, not a drop (accidental nursing joke, sorry guys). The weather is gorgeous, it was hot when we got here but nothing compared to the hundred degrees and humid we came from in Miami. Now it is cool, usually sunny, occasionally rainy, never needing more than a hoodie or a rain jacket. It is like perpetual fall and spring combined somehow. Unfortunately that means Mo has allergies all the time, but otherwise it is heavenly.
On to the homeschooling. I thought I would be tripping over homeschoolers out here, but after being part of small and close knit community of homeschoolers in Miami I have been a bit let down. While I have made some connections with really nice families, everyone mostly seems to be doing their own thing. I don’t have a car to use regularly so that limits us geographically, as does having three kids to bring along to any activities that do require transportation. These factors initially seemed isolating, but have turned into an enormous blessing. The biggest lesson for me has been to just slow down, keep our life simple, and recognize the beauty and potential in staying close to home. We walk most places and often spend six hours a day outside. There are four awesome parks and playgrounds that we can walk to, and on the way we can stop at the coffee shop or the little local grocery store. We can walk to the abundant farmer’s market on Sunday. We can walk to two bookstores in our downtown area, and the only chain is a bank. This small town lifestyle has been incredibly beneficial for me and the kids. They have a sense of place here. We see the same kids at the parks and the same people working in the shops we frequent. The kids are greeted warmly and we are comforted by the simplicity of our routine. I have noticed that not many families here have more than two children. People tend to make comments to me along the lines of “Wow, you have your hands full!” To that I can only respond with an equally inane platitude; “The more, the merrier!” Which is actually true. I really am happier with our little bunch of kids than I would be otherwise. There are moments when I am frustrated, tired, overwhelmed or just plain want to be alone, but I had all of those feelings sometimes before I had kids. What I didn’t have was the ability to be present to enjoy the millions of moments of sweetness that these little people bring to my life. I am ever thankful that we stumbled into homeschooling, by having difficult experiences, being honest with ourselves about them, and making choices to live according to what we truly value. As much as I struggle, question, want to grow or be different, and wish for certain things to change, I know that I am living every day in a life that I have chosen and worked hard for.
As crazy as it seemed at first, and as difficult as it has been at times, we made this move out here by following our hearts and doing the footwork, with a lot of help from our friends and family. I am grateful to you all, and to ourselves, and I can say that while our journey on the west coast is just beginning, we are honestly living our dreams. I’m so glad we continue to pursue them.