I stood there, helpless and sad. I watched, almost as an outsider, as my son clung to his grandmother in the middle of the airport parking lot and sobbed tears of a young boy missing his family.
I had watched him do the exact same thing just weeks earlier as his other grandmother sat on his bed, tucking him in for the night and saying their goodbyes. This was our first round of family visitors since we moved overseas and I could have never anticipated this emotional reaction, this outpouring of raw “missing” that they felt.
Years ago, I had a girlfriend who was stationed in Hawaii, complaining about being stationed there, the price of milk, the island fever, the constant sun. In my head (I don’t know, maybe even aloud) I responded with, “You’re joking, right?! YOU. LIVE. IN. HAWAII!” How can you have a bad day there?!
The same is holding true for us in Italy. The touristy part is amazing and so cool, but then there is real life and real living and that part is not always easy nor is it always fun.
It’s hard to have these feelings.
I think (as I viewed my friend in Hawaii) that I’m living in Italy, so I should always be grateful.
What I wish I could explain to people is that my living here isn’t a lack of gratitude or appreciation for what I have and the experiences we are able to give to our children, but rather that foreign living isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Like living everywhere else, it has its disadvantages and frustrations.
The “cool” Instagram post-worthy adventures are a small blip of actual living.
Of all the things I love and all the things I could do without here in Northern Italy, I never thought the missing of family would be as hard as it is. Our entire married life we have never been in close proximity to family so “being away” was something that was normal for my nuclear family. We have an incredible set of grandparents who never went more than 3-5 months without making a trip to see the kids. It’s been almost a year since we’ve been able to touch and hug them and I realize how much my children crave that part of their life that we can’t give them here.
FaceTime and Skype are fine, but the time difference makes it incredibly difficult to make that happen and if you have ever tried to communicate with a child via electronic device you know that presents its own set of challenges. Not to mention the internet in Italy is comparable to DSL… so there’s that.
There’s no fix and no solution to this problem. I have no sage wisdom for other military families getting ready to do this OCONUS thing or are in the middle of the same situation. I am riding the struggle bus with all the other moms who just don’t know what the best answer is to help their kids thrive through difficult military trials.
Know that I am praying for my kids and I’m praying for yours. Know that you aren’t alone and that it’s okay to not always feel grateful for the incredible, beautiful, amazing situation you’re in. Know that this is a season that might have a lot of speed bumps and hairpin turns, and giving extra grace to your family and yourself will help navigate a hairy period of time. But it’s just that, a period of time, and another season will come around.