My husband and I fell for each other years ago,
playing summer league Ultimate Frisbee along Lake Michigan and
drinking beer afterwards at Schubas Tavern. Soon after we met, an
amazing job opportunity took me 1,000 miles away, but not for long.
After six months of heartsick, long-distance romance, we were
engaged. Having lived in numerous cities and countries, I wasn't
quite ready to stay put-but I was in love with a Chicago boy and
knew that's where we'd spend our lives, rooting for the Cubbies in
summer and hibernating in winter.
Years passed swiftly with career-building, home-buying and
child-rearing, and our world expanded beyond the latest restaurants
and cultural events to Ralph Covert concerts, Hamlin Park T-ball
and story time at the zoo. Now ingrained in our neighborhood and
professional communities, once our three "city kids" were settled
into school, even I couldn't imagine living anywhere
But the tanking of the world's economy affected us, like
millions of others. My freelance work slowed down and Ted's latest
venture, as a partner in the development of a Caribbean island, was
suddenly in flux as banks and buyers and builders all tried to sort
out what the future would hold.
Having never moved as a child, I had no intention of ever
uprooting my own kids-but my husband and I looked at each other in
the dead of winter last year and had an "aha" moment. For his
island venture to realize its full potential, he needed to be
there, on-site, making things happen.
As parents, we knew this would be an incredible family
adventure, but we could also tell there would be bumps ahead,
mainly for our 8-year-old who had no desire to trade in his beloved
city life for the unknowns of island life.
Amid choruses of "I'm SOOO jealous!" we shed tears and
hugged endless goodbyes before touching down late last
Looking back, those first weeks were as intense as the
heat, wearing us out physically and emotionally. We had shipped 38
boxes of "stuff" to our rented townhome, but still the boys dwelled
on what got left behind. With no other families nearby, they felt
isolated, as did I. And their reaction after a week at their new
school included tears and intense complaining over the uniforms,
too-strict teachers and classmates who "don't like
My mom-guilt went into overdrive and I began
second-guessing the school, the move and overall island life. How
could it ever compare to what we had back home?
And then time passed. And more time passed. The kids
joined soccer and roller hockey leagues. I met some very cool
mothers from Canada, Mexico, England and Venezuela. We discovered
there were kids in the neighborhood, and family dinners became more
common as life slowed down. My 4-year-old learned how to swim
across the deep end, my 6-year-old discovered some surrogate
grandparents in the couple next door and my 8-year-old found other
8-year-olds (none American) who like to play Wii, read Wimpy Kid
books and build LEGO models.
From the success of the project that brought us here to
the rich diversity of activities, ethnicities and nationalities
that is now part of our everyday existence, I'm now certain that
moving away from what we knew and loved was the right move for us
as a family.
Yes, we still miss our friends, our neighborhood, our
favorite museums and restaurants, but we will enjoy and grow from
our stint in "paradise," knowing home sweet home will be there for
us when we get back.
Haley Weldon has enjoyed a career in television and video production. After spending much of her adult life in Chicago, she is now living in what many consider paradise with her husband and three children and blogging about it at weldonsinprovo.blogspot.com.
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