Good ole Kentucky
If you know me, you know a few things to be true.. One thing is that I have a crazy little girl, and the sweetest husband known to man. Two, I post on social media way too often because my gratitude for this life I live is beyond compare and I want the world to know it is possible to literally love your life. And three, I am originally from Kentucky and am probably the states biggest fan (this is a big one that most come to find out.)
This place has always been my safe haven. I have struggled with anxiety since before I can remember, and I know "anxiety" is so loosely used now that I have trouble explaining how it makes me feel to people that don't understand. My aunt put it the best way when we were trying to explain anxiety to Tyler (because he is actually the calmest human I know) but if you can imagine being put into a crowd of people and your child goes missing: that feeling of panic is what I feel like due to no known source constantly.
I moved around a lot when I was little and my parents got divorced shortly after I was born, I didn't have any siblings until my brother was born, my parents both worked and drank a lot and I only saw my dad when he was in town - so as a little girl, I grew up to realize and worry about every little thing around me but when my mom got sick it all sort of escalated...the state of Kentucky literally saved my life (sounds a bit far fetched, but I mean every bit of it.)
Now, I have nothing to blame on my parents. They are fun people that knew how to have a good time. Anxiety just runs in our family and my cousins even struggle with it - the constant change and irregular schedule just wasn't for me. I moved from Florida to Kentucky, from Kentucky to a few different cities in Virginia. I was always in a new environment and I really think it built my character when I was little (my daycares all consisted of some sort of diversity: a Montessori school, a church preschool, the inner-city YMCA, the Jewish Community Center, a vegan daycare with lesbian owners.) I applaud my mom for it - really, I do.
However, Owensboro Kentucky became my sense of normal. I actually can't remember a lot of my childhood in Richmond because I truly think I have blocked it out due to my stress levels, but I can tell you every ounce of my childhood in Owensboro. I remember running laps with cousins before cross country started in the fall, the cheer camps I did every year, eating whole watermelons with a spoon with my grandparents, I remember having times-table contests and seeing who could multiply faster. I remember roller blading in empty garages, and playing school with my cousins. Eating and making cobbler after picking blackberries. I can remember bee stings, and busted lips. Four-wheelers and the helmets that squeezed my ears too tight. I remember doing my aunts hair and makeup every chance I got. I remember riding my bike around my dad's neighborhood and feeling like I was "home" for a short amount of time. I remember sleepovers with my cousins and raiding pantrys that weren't mine. I remember birthday parties and friends. I remember stories of my dad breaking records in high school and how my dad knew all the parents of the kids my age. I didn't have that in Richmond.
I never had anxiety there. I never stressed about anything. Life was easy and I just lived my like a kid.
When I got a little older, I begged my dad to move so I could get in-state tuition at UK.
When I got a little older than that, I was literally sent to Kentucky to detox my body from the insane life I thought was normal in Richmond.
Owensboro and the people in it saved my life. My cousins turned into my best friends, and my aunts and uncles turned into my biggest mentors.
My parenting is derived from the childhood I had. I don't drink heavily because I don't want Riley to have the anxiety I had. I play one on one with her often because I don't want her to only have her imagination to talk to. I try to be as healthy as possible because I have watched my mom battle cancer for 10 years and don't want her to ever have to deal with it. We live in a small town outside of Raleigh because I had my best childhood memories in a small town. We live across the street from her cousins because my cousins were my best friends. She's not always required to have shoes, because I never was. I want her to have siblings because even if I can't guarantee they will be best friends, she will always have someone to relate to.
I love the little town I came from and can't begin to explain the gratitude I have for it.