Sunday, March 20, 2011

Worth It

I have mentioned more than once in this space that I don't particularly love living in a.) the suburbs and b.) Ohio. This is the story of how we got here:

In late 1998, we were living in the southern part of New Jersey. The commute to the beach was as far as my current commute to Columbus - that is to say - it was a darn easy commute. I was an hour from Philadelphia (my favorite city in the world) and about 2 hours from New York in one direction and the Poconos in the other. Yep, the location was pretty ideal for me. Lea was an adorable toddler at two and Liv was still my sweet baby - just short of her first birthday. We had both friends and acquaintances nearby - although the age of our children precluded us from having much of a social life.

Hmmmm, you might be saying, that particular situation doesn't appear to be broken. Why did you feel the need to fix it?

Well, I'll tell you. Be patient. Sheesh.

That summer my sister announced her first (and only, as it played out) pregnancy. She is my only sister and, as such, my only shot at the coveted title of Aunt. I could not wait to be an aunt. Also - as I said, Liv was approaching her first birthday and we knew she was to be our last child. That was a good decision, and the right one, but I wasn't quite through with my need to be around babies. My sister was bringing me a new baby to adore, and I couldn't have been happier.

Except...

Except this new baby would be in Ohio and I would be in New Jersey. There wasn't money for me to fly out to see her with any degree of regularity and the mere thought of a 10+ hour drive with two toddlers in tow was enough to send me into a tizzy. THAT wasn't going to happen with any degree of regularity. I would - realistically - only see that baby when my sister and I both visited our parents - conveniently located at the halfway point between Ohio and New Jersey. So that would only be likely to happen a couple times a year, and then I'd have to share the baby with my parents. It's pretty common knowledge that grandmas trump aunts!

I needed to know that baby.

The more I thought about it, the sadder I became.

Now Tom, if I haven't mentioned it before, is a helluva guy. He wanted to fix this for me. "We will move", he said. "We will put you where you need to be." He asked if I wanted to move closer to my parents or closer to my sister. That was a no-brainer. That powerful high that one gets from deeply sniffing babies heads was in Ohio. That was where I needed to be. My sister's baby wasn't born yet - and mine weren't yet out of diapers - but I was jonesing hard for that next fix.

Because it was late 1998 and Tom was a computer programmer, relocating was as easy as falling off of a log. Everyone was afraid of the Y2K bug and a good programmer could pretty much name his price. As a teacher, I had always worked hard to find jobs. As a programmer, employers seemed to work hard to find him. Within a couple weeks of making our decision, Tom had a couple solid offers on the table. Selling the house was a little harder, but that's another story for another day.

We moved into our house here in Ohio in February of 1999 and my niece made her grand entrance shortly thereafter. I was hosting a baby shower for her mom - my sister - which was no small feat since I didn't know anybody here yet and I didn't really know my way around town, but - it wasn't to be a surprise, so my sister helped. Invitations were sent, food was prepared/ordered, favors were in place - we were good to go.

Except...

A couple days before the shower was scheduled, we got the call that Tom's uncle had passed away. The funeral was to be the same day as the shower. We had to be there. So - plans shifted - as they do. My parents, who were supposed to be guests at the shower ended up taking on weekend long babysitting for my little ones as well as all of my hostess duties. I left a note - where to pick up what and when. The party was well-planned, it should run itself. No worries. Off to the funeral - about 8 hours away - Tom and I went.

Meanwhile, back in Ohio, my sister was not having any fun at her shower. She felt crummy and went upstairs to ride it out. Must've been something she ate. Party food, don'tcha know? Except it kept getting worse and worse and - somehow between caring for my munchkins and monitoring the flow of the party, my mom realized that my sister was missing. She found her in her bedroom and in a lot of pain. "We need to get you to the hospital", my RN mom determined after talking to her for only a few moments.

Long story short, we always say that party must have been so fun that my niece didn't want to miss it. Gotta love a baby shower where the hostess is a no show, the guest of honor leaves in an ambulance and the party guests clean up the house.

Tom and I rushed home the next morning, anxious to meet my niece.

She had come early - she was so tiny - she was hooked up to so many machines - "may I hold her?" I asked - tentatively - almost afraid of her - so frail and small. "Of course", was my sister's quick answer. I picked her up - so carefully - and I brought her little head to my face. I breathed her air and all was well. I was madly in love. She owned me.

She still does.

Happy birthday, sweetness. I might not love Ohio, but I sure do love you.

14 comments:

singedwingangel said...

Awww she is beautiful and my baby is 11 and I still need the baby hair sniffing thing. There is just something about that that can calm any storm

Eva Gallant said...

That was a sweet story. My sister and I live about two hours away from each other. Thank goodness for the telephone and unlimited long-distance calling.

K said...

You must be a hell of an Aunt.

Our how we ended up here story is much less romantic. It's all about the job.

5thsister said...

wishing I had an aunt like you! Wonderful story.

Pam said...

Great post, Tammy. You are such a talented writer. I had no idea this was actually a Happy Birthday post to your lovely (and beloved niece).

I can not imagine the powerful feeling of love you had for your sister and soon to be born niece to pick up and move to be closer to them. Maybe when I have grandchildren I will experience the same thing. Your sister and niece are lucky. And Tom sure is one helluva a guy.

Gibby said...

What a beautiful post! Happy Birthday to your niece!

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

Damn, you made me cry--again. What a great story. I so understand this. A big part of why I moved to DC was to be near my nephews (then a few years after my arrival my brother and his family moved away, hmmmm...).

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

What a wonderful story! And what a gorgeous young lady.

Anita said...

This was a wonderful post. I can't imagine how awesome you are that you moved to be near your sister and niece. She is gorgeous...and only 12....watch out!

gayle said...

You are a wonderful sister and aunt! This was a great post!

Swine said...

Sigh... Happy birthday.

Joanne said...

What a sweet story, family means so much. That move was so completely worth it!

Joanna Jenkins said...

Your niece is so beautiful! Happy Birthday to her!

i love your storytelling-- I had no idea why you lived in Ohio but your sis and niece are both very good reasons.

xo jj

elastamom.com said...

Damn it, Tammy, I was making it through the day without tears until this!!! This is a perfect advertisement for Ohio! :)