Approximately five minutes after I wrote this post about our lofty laundry room ambitions, Bob told me he wanted to move back to Northern Virginia. Instead of painting that Labor Day weekend, we spent the entirety of it on our front porch discussing Big Changes.
Our move away from Alexandria in the spring of 2012 was the culmination of years of plotting, planning and hand-wringing over how to move away from the hustle and bustle of the city while maintaining Bob’s career with the Federal Government in Washington, D.C. We wanted his job but we also wanted different schools, a different house, a different experience for our kids than our little bricked-over urban backyard could provide. And, I wanted out of the metro area completely. It was a tough place for my Indiana heart to live and once I had children, my desire to find a neighborhood just like the one I grew up in reached fever pitch.
We found everything we were looking for – the schools, the neighborhood, the lack of migraine-inducing traffic – in the far west end of Richmond. For the first year we lived in this area, I would marvel every single time I left my house at how EASY it was to get around, how beautiful the southern pines were, how large the grocery store was. Honest to goodness, it felt like we were on vacation all the time.
We have used our prime location as a jumping off point to explore much of Central Virginia. From battlefields to beaches to campsites, everything is so close and so accessible. Richmond is a wonderful place to live.
The only thing it is missing is my husband.
For the almost two years we have lived here, Bob has worked a few days each week in Washington while I hold down the home front in Richmond. We rented a cozy apartment for him up in Northern Virginia so he wouldn’t have to commute daily. Some weeks he is home more days than he is at work but, as he explained to me last September, he feels he is not home nearly enough. He misses his family.
And, we miss having him at home. While taking care of our three kids on my own during the week has proven incredibly challenging at times, the four of us have muddled through. Everyone is fed and clothed and schooled on time with a minimal amount of Bad Words.
My biggest issue during Bob’s absence is not how tired I am or how solo-managing the homework is killing me slowly, it is actually how life always feels on pause during those few days each week when Bob is working in the city. Since not everyone in the family is present, it feels like the rest of us are in a type of holding pattern, waiting for him to arrive home so we can all spend time together as a complete unit. This means weekends are crammed full of errands, activities, intense quality time and playing catch-up from the days he is gone in addition to me trying desperately to find some quiet time before his next departure. It is an interesting cycle.
So, when Bob said, “This isn’t working,” I said, “Let’s go.” It was one of the easiest big decisions we’ve ever made. We have a buyer for our home here and have found a home up there and while everything isn’t finalized until it’s finalized, we are working hard towards a smooth transition in the next several weeks.
I surprisingly don’t feel regret about our stint in Richmond. As Bob pointed out, “people try new things.” And, that’s what this was, an experiment. We’ve met many, many families that have figured out how to make a Richmond to Washington living arrangement work. We just weren’t one of them. However, Henry was able to spend two years at an award-winning school, Charlie found his comfort zone at a fantastic preschool, Millie grew into her own little person and our family explored and enjoyed the ease of living in the area. We made friends, true life-long friends, during our time here. So, I couldn’t possibly regret such an integral part of our family’s story.
More importantly, we think we are headed for something amazing in our new town. An experience we would have never considered two short years ago. Somewhere that only a detour through Richmond could have landed us.
And, just to close the loop on the laundry room, it did eventually get painted.
In November. Around Thanksgiving. Three months later. When my father drove here from Louisville to complete the task. We are good at many things but home improvement is not one of those things.