I am so happy to introduce you to my darling friend, Mari. Not only is she one of the most kind people but she also is someone I can always look to for a smile. She is a great mother that truly dedicates herself to her children. I was especially excited to have Mari as a guest on my site because we both share something in common. We have both spent a majority of our time living away from loved ones, on our own navigating this important thing we do called motherhood. I asked her to share some of her experiences with living away. I know you will learn something from her because I sure did! You can also follow her journey on instagram @marispiker or her personal website www.marispiker.com enjoy! Here is Mari…

I’ve spent the better part of the last decade hundreds, and now thousands, of miles from parents, siblings, and life-long childhood friends. In 2006, I married Chris and moved to Los Angeles where he was beginning law school. After three years in L.A. as poor, struggling students, Chris finally graduated and accepted a job at a leading international law firm. With the new job came another move: we spent the next 6 years enjoying the sand and waves of Newport Beach. Then in 2015, we made another move, this time to to New York City. During this span we’ve experienced it all: we’ve welcomed two beautiful kids to our family, dealt with unexpected health challenges, made career changes, made new friends, and been forced to say good-bye to old ones. Here are few things I’ve learned during the last decade based on my experiences:
IT IS OKAY TO GET HOMESICK: There are times that I have so homesick I felt like my heart was breaking. I first experience this during my first year in L.A.. I was, what Chris likes to call, “A small town girl” in a big city. The crazy freeways, the intense Hollywood scene in which I worked, the varying beliefs and lifestyles. 

I experienced similar feelings each time we welcomed a child to our home. I found myself craving those extended family moments for my kids, cousin time, bonding with grandparents etc. And selfishly I wanted to sit in my moms kitchen and talk while she cooked, or watch the sun go down with my brother on his porch. But it was ok! I was learning to be a mom on my own, learning to create our own special memories and traditions. And although I may never stop missing my family and life long friends, I have so many wonderful things to be grateful for too. 
GIRLFRIENDS ARE A MUST: I’ve learned the importance of having real, true, lasting friendships with other women. I need to connect with my girlfriends on a regular basis! As a mother, I feel like my sanity depends on getting OUT and seeing friends. Going out to lunch with the girls, seeing the incredible sights in the city, museums, pedicures—whatever! Just time to talk, laugh, relate, vent, even cry! The level of love and support is incredible, especially here in New York City, where often times husbands work long hours, the girls have one of the strongest bonds I have ever seen. 
GET TO KNOW YOUR CITY: Getting to know your city is a great cure for loneliness, homesickness, and boredom. Feeling down? Go explore. Feeling bored? Be a tourist in your city. I’ve found that the sooner I know my surroundings, the sooner it feels like home. I like to find favorite spots that feel like “mine”- familiar and easy, a place the kids know on sight and get excited to go to. I revisit the spots frequently, in the beginning often times alone but thats okay!Adding new places over time, but still going to our “spots” frequently to create a feeling of familiarity. In Newport, I had a favorite cafe I ate at almost daily, a favorite running trail, a favorite beach spot, etc. Here in New York, I have a favorite playground, a favorite pizza place to take my kids, a favorite museum, a favorite ice cream shop, etc. And I feel like I have only just begun! 
MAKE AN EFFORT TO KEEP FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS: Keeping the bonds with my loved ones is one of my biggest priorities. Making the most of our trips back home, texting and calling, and letting the kids face time. I also think social media has been an incredible tie to my family and friends who are far. We are able to keep up on the everyday things, which in many ways I believe keep you “close”. I try not to let too much time pass between conversations…or even just a quick text to check in.
LIVING AWAY HELPED ME GROW: Living away from family helped me stretch and grow in unexpected ways. For one, I learned to be independent. As a mother, as a woman, as a wife. Distance meant I needed to solve my own problems and take care of my own needs (economic, social, emotional, spiritual). It also gave me the opportunity to really know myself. I feel like I gained a sense of confidence that wasn’t there before. I will always be me, but I definitely feel like I am much better version of myself now. I value family much more than I used to, building personal relationships, having experiences over having things, etc. I feel like maybe I value time more too. I know that when I am happy, my children are happy. 
GIVING MY KIDS MY FULL ATTENTION: When we have a big move and a big change (like, say, moving to New York City from the suburbs!) I try to drop all of my commitments and distractions at first. I try to focus on helping my babies feel settled, happy, and secure. Always having their same bedding and toys out when we arrive to the new space. Slowly helping them figure out our new neighborhood, introducing them to other kids at church and helping them learn a few faces (started with our doorman, one friend at church, etc). We spend a lot of time inside at first, getting settled and also helping them start to feel like our new space is theirs. As we venture out to explore I make sure to bring one of their familiar toys (for both of my kids its a stuffed frog). I try to be as positive and excited about all of the changes as I can be but also patient with them. My kids have been very young in our moves and often times I feel like its been very confusing and unsettling for them. Just taking it slow, understanding their specific personalities and needs has helped me help them adjust to the changes. They’ve both adapted beautifully and I can honestly say that I think they love where we live! 
All in all, I think it’s been good for me. I am not certain if we will ever live near family again, and tho I will always miss them, I am determined to make our lives full and happy. There is so much to see and do in this world and I feel grateful that I get to experience it and share it with my children. 

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