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Louisville, You Will Always be my Old Kentucky Home

Grief is wily thing. I intended to write a post about the pains of forcing your children to do hard things but, as I was writing, I was fighting back tears and I realized my own grief about leaving behind a life, a place, and people that I love.

When I left the south in 2008, I needed to go and grow. I needed to spread my wings and find out who I really was. I had spent my mid 20’s in a spiral of bad decisions. I needed to figure out if any of those mistakes were accurate examples of who I was.

Within two years, I moved Northern California, married my husband, and had a baby. I still needed space to find myself but I also needed my mom so we packed up and moved to Louisville, Ky where we’ve been since 2010.

Since then, I’ve welcomed two more daughters into the world. I’ve made some of the best friends that a lifetime deserves. I’ve found people who loved me through postpartum depression, regular depression, my good days, my fat days, my failures as a mother, my failures as a wife, my disappointments; they’ve loved me and seen me through all my inadequacies and shortcomings. They’ve also helped me see the beauty that I can offer the world. They’ve helped me see the strength of my patience and laughter in times of stress. They have helped me see my willingness to help and my welcoming spirit. They have loved me enough so that I have learned to love myself just exactly where I am. They have allowed me the dignity to be me in all of my glory and desperation. And now, we are packing up our lives and moving away.

I came here as a newlywed with a newborn baby with no concrete idea as to how to be a wife or a mother. We are leaving as a robust family.

I just drove through the parking lot of the library where I found an unintentional community that helped pull me from the depths of motherhood depression. We spent hours upon hours at the Toddler/Preschool story times. We killed rainy day boredom climbing around on the cushions in the children’s section. The library hamsters were almost a family pet. My children would abscond down the main hall shouting out “E.T.” and pointing to a poster, me in frantic chase behind them trying to quietly shush them. A librarian pulled me aside once and assured me that they weren’t bothering anyone and then she read them a story. The building has been renovated and it only slightly resembles the one we frequented, but the onslaught of mothers bearing toddlers stays the same. I smiled and waved at one crossing the parking lot. She was attempting to corral her two kids, one on her hip and the other skipping in circles. I smiled remembering doing that same dance years ago. I would be equally hustling them across the parking lot and in awe of the freedom that exists in children.

My cousin said it’s like pulling up roots. And yes, it’s exactly like pulling up roots. I’m pulling of the roots that reached out from the public library and held my children while I caught my breath.

Louisville, You Will Always be my Old Kentucky HomeYesterday, we had lunch with 3 of my youngest daughter’s friends. We did this in the brief time slot between preschool carpool and the afternoon ballet class. After about an hour, the other moms all packed up their girls to go over to their ballet class, the same ballet class where all three of my girls took their first ballet lessons. As the three other girls galloped around excitedly while their mothers located shoes and wrapped up their leftovers, my daughter crawled into my lap and asked if she could go to. “Mama, I take ballet, too, remember.” And as she buried her face into my chest crying and protesting, I clung to her with matching heartache. Because we weren’t just saying no to ballet for the day. I knew that we were saying goodbye to a childhood of playdates and ballet classes with those three playmates. We were saying good bye to our little ballet studio. We were saying good bye to an afternoon routine that I have had for 5 years now. Preschool. Lunch. Ballet.

We are pulling up the eagerly growing roots of childhood friendships that are formed while climbing up the slide, blowing bubbles with their milk, and dancing to the tummy tango at ballet.

Later, as I walked through the baby aisles shopping for a bigger car seat, a woman with a young baby pulled into the same aisle. While she cooed to her baby, I realized that my time on those aisles is limited. 2 years ago, I surrendered to the end of my child birthing years. I’ve already mourned that loss, yet lately I have been preoccupied with young mothers and their babies. While standing in that aisle today I realized that my preoccupation with these babies is not from my yearning to birth another child.

I’m pulling up the nurturing roots of young motherhood.

These have been the most intimate years of my life. I have spent more hours snuggling my little ones than sleeping over the last 9 years. I have coddled my crying infants à toddlers à preschoolers à elementary schoolers throughout this city. I remember the first Christmas snow and looking back at the twinkling eyes of my children while driving home. I remember driving around in circles while trying to let the baby nap in the backseat. I walked out of that exact store multiple times only to have realized that we had stolen something that one of my children lumped into the stroller. I have frantically snatched premixed formula from those shelves in order to calm a screaming baby. I have held the pudgy, crumb covered hands of my toddler as she learned to walk and those same hands years later guiding them on how to hold a pencil.

This city has housed the moments when I cried because my body was flooded with anxiety that I couldn’t control. It has housed the sleepless nights. It is home to my hysterectomy that marked the end of a phase of my life. It is home to my daughters’ first field hockey games, lost teeth, first steps, and first words. This city houses the intimate firsts of so much of what I use to define who I am. I became a mother in this city.

But it is our time to harvest the fruits from the experiences bourn from those roots.

We are packing up the materials of our life here and we are taking off to a city that I left when I was broken. When I was afraid of my own ability to make a decision and unsure about how to become the person that I wanted to be. I am pulling up the roots from a place where I learned who I want to be and how to be that person. And I am returning to a city of my past as a mother, a friend, a wife, a writer, a woman with compassion and a welcoming heart. I am harvesting the years of friendships and mentorship, patience and kindness, and every other hug, tear, or note of love that we have received over the last nine years and I am taking them on this next journey.

When I was young, I wrote in a journal that the only thing I really wanted out of life was to be surrounded by good friends, good family, and to have time to enjoy them all. I’ve had that in spades. I am sad and terrified to leave this place. We are pulling up roots. But we are also harvesting all of the beauty from our time here, and I know this life will always be with me.

Louisville, we may be pulling up our roots but you will always be My Old Kentucky Home.

Tiffany Lyle

I'm a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend I am still learning who I am and what I want and I don't know that I will ever truly know. I am a firm believer that EVERYTHING happens for a reason. I like to cook with my hands and get dirty in the process. I don't like to follow recipes. It may take more time but I am convinced that the more love that you put into a meal the more love that you get out of it. I have a super sensitive sense of smell. I set very high standards for my friends and I have learned that trust must be earned. I have plenty of acquaintances but true friends are few and far between. I hate to hurt people but I am learning that sometimes it is necessary. I've learned that change is inevitable and perpetual. The trick to succeeding in it is to choose the necessary battles, adapt with the rest, and trust that God will take care of you. If you smile at people they believe you and smile back. I love small town America where the trees and fields are plentiful and the small businesses can still survive. I love to learn new things, tradition, the South, good books, front porches, thunderstorms, kisses on the forehead, Bernie, the way my body feels after a work out, walking into a clean room, bubble baths, laughter that comes from the bottom of your belly, crunching leaves under my feet, a cool breeze on a warm day, afternoon naps on Sundays, ice cream in the winter time, and dusk.

Comments (2)

  • Jeanette...aka momma/coach/friend

    Oh, my heart……you have such a way with words, this time describing a phase of motherhood that is always a bit bittersweet but more sweet than bitter. This new adventure will take you into the next phase of motherhood with confidence as you reach out and share, lifting and lightening those you encounter. Wishing you the richest of memories in your new home as well as those you made in Kentucky. Love you Tiff!!

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