What Grandma Said I’d Never Do: Moving Back to Minnesota from Montana
Welcome to Kathy’s Chronicles!
This is the story of a mom of four kids, ages five and under, who lives far, far away in Broadview, Montana, but will soon move to a little house on the prairie south of Utica, Minnesota. She loves making delicious food but hates cleaning it up, got straight A’s in college, but can’t ever get through the laundry pile, and adores the magic of seeing her kids grow and learn, but just wishes they’d leave her alone sometimes to let her get a real night’s rest. This column isn’t a fairy tale, but it will be sometimes informative, sometimes irreverent, sometimes touching, honest and witty.
I’m a hometown girl from St. Charles, Minnesota that hasn’t lived anywhere near her hometown for 13 years, but soon all of that is about to change. In 1998, I needed to see wide open spaces, so I took my Buick that I bought from summers working at Lakeside, packed it up until it rode low on the shocks, and headed off alone on I-90. I was 20 years old and heading out west to finish up my college degree at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT.
That 16 hour drive became a pivotal point in my life, marking the end of the comfort of everything I’d known my entire life: a life where Subway is the place to hang out after football games, Oasis has the best ice cream, and Mike’s has all the eggs and toilet paper you need, unless the knowing ladies up front realize you want to buy it to decorate lawns at homecoming.
And so began my Montana adventure. I spent the next four years earning two Bachelor’s Degrees at Montana State, one in English, the other in Spanish. When I wasn’t speed reading British Literature, I ran mountain foothill trails, worked a variety of jobs, learned to chew and spit tobacco and throw a rope, and of course, I took in the night life.
One particular Saturday night, the wheels of fate were spinning, although I didn’t know it at the time. Wanting some entertainment on that slow night, I helped my friend who was a bouncer “card” people coming into the Crystal Bar. One cute guy’s license struck me. His address line was simply “Box 6.” To me that suggested he must be from an awfully tiny town, so I asked him about it. Later on in the conversation, he told me I seemed like I was from a big family, an eerily accurate assumption since I am number 10 with 12 siblings. At the end of the night, my sensible side wouldn’t give him my number because I had a boyfriend back in MN at the time. However, I did allow some flexibility in my code of ethics, and I looked him up in the student directory. I discovered he lived right on my bike route to class, and thus began a casual stalking of his house on my way to class every day.
Three months later, time just about ran out for “casually” bumping into that cute blonde guy who drove a ’67 Mustang. Out on a run just before finals week though, I went by his house, and he happened to be outside that time. We hadn’t seen each other in months, but he remembered my name, and an hour’s worth of conversation set the wheels permanently in motion.
And so, my grandmas were right. When I left to go to college in Montana, both of my grandmas predicted that I was going to meet someone out there, get married, and not come back. Jarred proposed and less than a year later, we got married on a pier on the Washington coast where we lived at the time.
We did some traveling, but for the past eight years, we have lived in Broadview, MT, my husband’s hometown. Jarred took over his grandparent’s manufacturing business of livestock scales and feed equipment, while I taught English and Spanish in the local high schools. In Broadview, our kids bask in the affection of loving grandparents and great-grandparents, and I live in the landscape I dreamed of when I imagined Montana. Endless rolling prairie, bordered by mountains off in the distance that meet cloudless blue skies is our ordinary view every day of the week. Running these days is on the gravel road on the edge of town, where most of the time I have the road all to myself with nothing but wheat fields, pastures and quiet.
Life is good for us in Montana, but we’ve never been afraid to make a change. We just closed on a house south of Utica and look forward to the new horizons that await us on my old stomping grounds. Ironically, the reasons that we moved back to Montana eight years ago are nearly the same reasons that we are now moving back to Minnesota: family and business. Jarred’s family and business originated in Broadview, MT, yes. However, my family is rooted in Minnesota, and as fate would have it, most of the time when Jarred builds an auger cart or animal scale, he usually ships it to somewhere within a few hours of St. Charles. So it only makes sense for his agriculturally-based business to be located in the heart of the farming belt. His family is now my family, just as my family is now his family, as well. And before you jump to conclusions about me dragging him to MN, let me tell you that to my surprise, moving was his idea.
When I left MN back in 1998, it was just me, and I am soon moving back to Minnesota with my family of six. This column, Kathy’s Chronicles, is just that: a chronicle of my life as a woman, mother, and wife. My daily life is anything but quiet. I’m on hiatus from teaching, a stay at home mom with four little kids, the oldest is almost 6 and the youngest is 9 months. My day usually starts around 6:30 when someone cries or crawls into our bed wanting to nurse, have a dry diaper, or a bowl of cereal. Life revolves around the daily tornado of meals to cook and clean up, cloth diapers, someone constantly saying “Mom!”, mountains of laundry that neither wash themselves or put themselves away, naps to enforce and fights to resolve.
I’ve learned a few things being a mother for nearly six years, and perhaps more importantly, I have plenty to learn. In my best moments, I laugh at the adventure and chaos that is our daily life. In my not so good moments, I just want a real life “pause” button so I can maybe use the bathroom all by myself. At the end of the day, though, I know that I have the sweetest gig there is: I am a mom. Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don’t. In life, though, I do believe it is the biggest messes that make the best stories later on.
Written January 2, 2012.