When I see pics on Facebook of a neatly packed moving truck and the tag “We’re moving! So excited for our next adventure!” I wonder if that picture is really as clean and joyful as it appears. I envision a happy family driving behind said perfectly-packed moving van singing Disney songs as they embrace the road ahead. Is that really how moves happen for other people?
I am writing this as a follow-up to my last moving post 2 months ago because we did move. And it wasn’t picture perfect. It was pretty much a sh*t show. Let me amend that, we didn’t just MOVE in one fell swoop, we spent the past 6 weeks moving our chaos halfway across the state to a temporary home. It was not clean. It was not near. It was not joyful, or organized, nor did it involve any singing or unity whatsoever. And we spent much of it about one step away from full meltdown. But, we survived….so far. Here’s what I see to be the ugly truth about moving a family of four.
Moving isn’t smooth.
My mother has probably moved close to 30 times in her lifetime. Growing up a Navy brat, then later marrying a Navy pilot and future commercial pilot, she was used to moving. The mentality of moving when you needed to move seemed like a simple idea in my family history. People move all of the time, families adjust, kids are resilient, you make new friends and find new things wherever life takes you. All true. And all a little oversimplified, if you ask me. Maybe people who move a ton are better at packing than us. Maybe they’ve mastered the art of essentialism better than us. Maybe they don’t have kids or someone like me in the household. Who knows. But our move, after being planted for 12 years, wasn’t easy. And I cannot imagine doing this 30 times in my lifetime. I’m a little overwhelmed with the notion that we are just renting right now and will be moving again most likely in 2 years.
Moving is exhausting.
OMG where did all this crap come from? Apparently, we are hoarders. I’m not sure we completely realized this, but we have a lot of crap. Or as my wife would say, she has stuff that is worth keeping, I have crap that needs to be gone through and, most likely, thrown away.
I had visions of just trying to get as much as we could in boxes and just hiring movers. The wife had other ideas and knew we “could do it ourselves to save some $$.” In fairness, we really weren’t packed up enough to just have movers come in, but doing it ourselves was completely ex. haust. ing.
In all, we (mostly Lo) made probably 16+ round trips (70 miles total) with the Dodge Caravan full to the roof. Each trip, we said a little prayer that the 100k mile minivan would make the trip as the check engine light stayed on, the e-brake light would flicker, transmission lights would come and go and an occasional awful noise would present itself then mysteriously go away.
It was a comedy of errors at time. We were close to strangling each other the night we were moving the “big stuff” into the rental truck, then Lo accepted an offer from a sketchy neighbor to let his buddies help us move a few big things out. Two drunk dipsh*&ts showed up and helped us move the couches out before they gouged our pristine hardwood floors trying to move the easiest of our 3 armoires (Lo and I moved the 2 bigger ones ourselves without incident). As Lo sent them on their way, I waffled back and forth between crying and laughing at the 2 foot long line of divots on the floor.
But, we finished packing up the furniture that night and had unloaded and moved 99% of everything into the new place by 11 am the following morning. We did admit that we NEEDED A GUY for the end when we were completely physically exhausted and still had 2 armoires to get up a narrow flight of stairs. Ugh, I hate it when we need a guy for something.
Moving is relationship-testing.
First of all, this move was MY idea. I was tired of commuting 70+ minutes each way after almost 3 years and felt like a change needed to happen. Not everyone was supportive. Some friends said I was just being whiny and need to just “suck it up” when it comes to the commute. It’s hard, because I feel like I did suck it up for awhile. Many of my friends commute from our area into NYC. But they commute because they can’t afford to live closer to work. If I can live 10 minutes away from work, be in a top 10 school district with great sports and activities for the boys and still be within 1 hour of each set of grandparents, why the heck not?
Alas, that did hang over our heads for much of the past several weeks. I think Lo kept thinking that this was a horrible idea but hoped the kids (and us) adjusted. As I said in my prior post, my wife has lived in a 3-town radius her entire life. Me pushing to move all of us for the “greater good” was not well received, but she did go along with it….after some battling.
It was definitely a little testy at times through the move. At one point, we were unpacking and I found a broken shot glass. We used to (before kids) collect shot glasses from the places we visited. This particular one was from the place we went as our wedding gift from friends.
I put it on the counter and commented on if that was a sign, she just shrugged and went back to unpacking. So, I left it out for a few days and after the cloud of stress began to lift and we started liking each other again, we agreed to move on and throw the shot glass away. Ah, new beginnings.
Unpacking is endless.
I have no idea where my work shoes are other than the same pair I’ve worn every day for 3 weeks. I don’t know where my black belt is, so I’m just wearing a brown one because I can find it. We have a lot of things that we’re not really ready to throw away, but we’re not sure where we’re keeping it at the new place. But we don’t want to just “throw it in the attic.” We may be “unpacking” for the entire time we live in this house.
Learning a new place can be tough.
Thankfully, there are wonderful things called Waze and the internet. I can’t imagine my parents trying to find something when they moved from Huntington Beach, California to Brookfield, Connecticut in 1979. My mother was perplexed by the utter lack of street lights and getting to a restaurant or a grocery story was an event that involved more than one map strewn across the passenger seat and dashboard. For the most part, Lo and I are finding stuff. We have located the town transfer station (so much better than regular garbage pick up). We are discovering the local community center. We found the baseball fields. We are slowly locating things like our new favorite grocery store and pizza place. We’re figuring it out.
Kids do adjust.
We’ve been in our new home full-time for barely three weeks. We’ve had some bedtime struggles with Dyl (7) because it’s an old house with lots of creaking and the crickets outside are exuberant throughout the night – not as common a noise in our old home. We’ve switched to some different bedtime tactics, including a recent attempt at kids guided meditations and (so long as he uses headphones so his brother doesn’t hear) it seems to be going pretty well – fingers crossed!
Their school is pretty awesome. I was on the BOE for in our old district, so I’m a little sensitive about the schools there. We had good schools and amazing teachers! But their new elementary school is a wonderful school to land in considering we had to leave the comfort of our former schools.
We braced ourselves for the first day of school. I acknowledge that they left their great friends and schools. When they got home, they seemed pretty happy. Dyl said his new school is great and he made 3 new friends and even knew their names, his teacher was tiny and old (he didn’t say that to her, thank God) but great and he really liked it. Andrew said his day was good because he had ice cream at lunch and schooled some 6th graders in football at recess. That’s it. First day success. The past two weeks have been consistently progressing, including their total acceptance for the afterschool care program at the school and even loving the events at the school so far. Fingers crossed.
The absolutely miss their friends and we are working on maintaining friendships as we can. But I think the boys are going to be okay.
And I think we will be okay.