Recently while we were out running errands, my daughter asked me what we would be doing when we finished shopping. I told her we needed to go home. She replied, “Which home?”
Which home? She was not joking. She did not know to “which home” we were headed.
You see, in the four years that my daughter has been alive, we have lived in the following places:
- A big city in Texas
- A populated suburb of New Jersey
- A small rural town in Texas
- Another city in Texas
- Our current residence back in our small rural town in Texas for a few months.
And those are just the places we’ve lived, not the number of times we’ve visited these and other towns in between moves. I don’t blame her for having to clarify to which home we were going.
Most of these moves revolved around job opportunities for either myself or my husband and while moving can be stressful, the constant change of scenery doesn’t phase me in the least (I like it too much, actually). What has caused turmoil to this restless soul is the battle that wages both within my own heart and with others regarding which is superior:
Small town versus city living
My husband is from this small town in Texas, where I write to you from today, while I come from a much more populated suburb of New Jersey (just a fifteen minute drive into Philadelphia). Never in my wildest dreams ten years ago would I have guessed I would be here right now. We’re a scene right out of the old TV show, Green Acres (well, not really since I am blogging from a laptop right now, thank you internet, but you get the idea). Did I just date myself for even being aware of that show’s existence? Or are you now singing the theme song, too?
In well-populated towns, I hunt down coffee shops and big libraries, multiple parks, play dates, museums and aquariums. I crave access to people. When we moved to the last well-populated area we lived in, I made some great friends almost immediately by joining some Facebook mom and homeschooling groups. I had so much going on, in fact, that I had to start turning play dates down just to have some down time with the kids.
Here in this small, rural town, the population is about 2600 and dwindling. There is no Facebook group. There is no coffee shop. Most of the people here have had the same friends their whole lives and don’t seem all that interested in making new ones. It can get lonely. On the other hand, my kids get to do things like this:
There is no traffic (I seriously despise traffic). When we go food shopping, the lines are never long, they always bag your groceries and they bring them to your car for you! After being surrounded by people for a while, the open space around me is like a cool drink on a hot day and since it has rained a bit lately the land is green and lush. We can build a fire and roast marshmallows outside and the glittering stars on a clear night are breathtaking. And hey, sometimes we get visitors, like last winter:
Go home, cows. You’re drunk.
The truth is, there is a lot to love about both types of places and I just can’t settle myself to one or the other. I know I am much more comfortable in the more populated areas, but sometimes peace is easier to locate in smaller places. Finding contentment wherever I am has been a lifelong battle that I am still fighting. I have learned that, for me, contentment is offered in moments, not in places.Contentment is offered in moments, not in places. Click To Tweet
I’ve seen contentment on the face of my kids in a tiny 34 foot travel trailer and, conversely, watched my daughter restlessly pace the rooms of homes 5 times that trailer’s size.
I’ve felt as claustrophobic as I’ve ever felt on 20 acres of land and free as a bird on a city street.
I’ve seen loneliness in the eyes of people surrounded by hundreds of other faces and felt as full and surrounded by love as possible with just a few people by my side.
It was a bit of a punch in the gut for me when my daughter asked, to “which home” we were headed until I realized that she didn’t say, “WHAT home?” which really would have been unfortunate. “Which home” actually implies that she considers more than one physical place to be her home and while that may not be typical, it may not be bad either. Perhaps she won’t struggle so much with contentment like I do. Maybe my kids will even be able to fit right in wherever they go. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this. You can’t live in a rural town in Texas and not teach your kid to sing some good ole’ Western Swing!
Where would you rather be? Are you content where you are?