I enjoy visiting home. My husband and I are from the same hometown in Iowa, and most of our family still resides there. I love taking my kids around the area. It is fun to see both the new and the old. And it is so convenient to have everyone located in the same place; we can maximize our time and visit with nearly everyone in one trip. No matter where I have lived or how long I have been away, Iowa is always home. Time there with my family is important and wonderful.
But do you know what I love even more? When our family members visit us.
I love their visits for many reasons, but I love them mostly because I can show them our life. Our real life. As much as I can show on social media and through FaceTime, there is no better crash course and real glimpse into our lives than an actual, in-person visit.
First of all, I have lived in some pretty amazing places.
From Washington to Kentucky; from Europe to Hawaii; our family has been in some advantageous assignments and locations. Why wouldn’t someone want to visit? My family knows that they will have a house to stay in, food to eat, and a free tour guide. My mom points out that she saves hundreds in hotel and food expenses every time she visits. The financial savings alone is enticing.
Which leads me to my next point: a visit to us can often kill two birds with one stone.
You get the joy of visiting your kids and grandkids while seeing new sights and cities. My sister and brother-in-law spent Thanksgiving in Barcelona with us. My in-laws have experienced a German Christmas season with their grandkids. My mom has explored more cities and countries with our family than I can count. You can check an item off your bucket list or experience a new culture, and you can do it with us.
But most important, I want to show you our life.
I want to take you to our favorite breakfast place or park. My kids want you to see their schools and their friends. I want you to see the base and the job that our lives revolve around. That house you have seen through a phone video? Come sleep there. That beach the kids have been raving about? Let us take you there. Come visit our lives.
Let me show you our chaotic mornings; our crazy sport and lesson schedules; our daily struggles and triumphs. See me as I manage working and parenting around an inconsistent military life. Witness how we have adapted to our area and our lives in each place the military sends us. Visit when my husband is gone, to not only help but to see how capable and strong we can be. Visit when he is here, and see how happy we are together. I am proud of my family, even in the difficult times, and I want you to see it.
I understand that a visit is not always possible.
Traveling grows more and more expensive. There are some locations that cannot be visited; you may not have enough vacation time or may not be able to make it work with your own life. We struggle with this. Our kids, our personal lives, and our incomes do not allow many visits home either. We have been making the distance work for a long time now, and the distance will not change our love or our family.
I also understand that not every family is close or wants to have visitors. It can be stressful to host guests or to show those close to us the good and the bad parts of our life. Some family may not want to stay at our crowded house. I get it.
As for my family: if you can visit, please do. If you can afford it; if you can take the time; if we can coordinate it; I highly encourage it. I would love to see you. And I would love you to see our life. Not our Facebook life or our carefully curated gallery of pictures. Not the life I tell you about over the phone. Family, please visit us and see our real life. Because I am proud of it and us, and I cannot wait for you to see it.