Uprooting Our Lives
Moving is hard, it is exhausting in fact. My friends and I were out this weekend and what was one item of conversation? Yes, moving. The consensus of this conversation was that the problem with moving isn’t so much the packing and unpacking, which is not fun-we all know that, but it is all the work before and after the move to make sure everyone is going to be okay. As a mom, I worried about this before our move for months. Was I making a huge mistake uprooting my kids? Was I going to scar them for life by making them leave the only city they have ever known, that they felt comfortable in, that they had favorite restaurants and coffee shops at (No, there wasn’t a Starbucks…we learned to deal)? What about their friends and our family…best friends, grandma and grandpa who they were going to leave only to see again a few times throughout the year? Thoughts like these ran rampid in my head over and over again as I packed up the endless boxes and said our goodbyes. Were we going to be okay?
I mentioned in a previous blog that I made the mistake of not getting involved in the community in which my husband and I moved right after college. Essentially I moved, started my new job and that was it. Home, work, home, work. When it came time for the days off and vacation time, we were at a loss after a few months with not one friend or social group. Our entire sense of community that was felt growing up, in high school and in college, was gone and it was harder than I ever would have imagined. The loss of this was felt in my husband’s and my relationship ; we just had nothing else to occupy our times and our minds. So we traveled to Denver every weekend where we had friends… 110 miles every weekend.
At the time we thought the community in which we lived was just flawed, it was not hip or fun. It wasn’t until later that I realized we were so unhappy but because we hadn’t gotten involved, hadn’t made connections, hadn’t gotten acclimated with the surroundings to make it feel like home. The realization of this struck me when we were about a month into living in our new house and I had a new friend coming over for coffee. She was a neighbor that brought over some white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies (swoon) the week before and invited me to the library for a mommy and me class. The excitement I had going to the class and having someone over for coffee made me giddy…it was almost childlike. It was my introduction into the community. My introduction to being a part of something again, and it felt absolutely glorious.
So as this big recent move loomed over me like the boxes that were piled above my head, I was scared. I knew how I had felt during and after our previous big move– it was loneliness and a deep longing for home. The mama bear in me wanted to protect my kids from this feeling, even though I knew it was inevitable. My mission was clear: to immediately try to acclimate my family into the community as fast as possible after the inevitable uprooting!
About two months before the kids and I moved to the Shoreline, I began a lot of researching on activities in the area, searching for sports, arts and crafts type places, looking into after school programs and events. I was able to find a multitude of options, including a basketball program for my oldest and even a active learning facility for my littlest. The options along the shoreline are endless! (Check out the continuing community spotlights for small highlights on activities and community events!) I signed each of my kids up for a couple of different activities trying to make sure they were set and ready to have something to do when we arrived besides sitting on the couch and playing minecraft and watching Netflix.
Going Outside of my Comfort Zone
Before the kiddos started on their first day in their new school, I told them they had a very important job to do at school…to make sure to find one friend to play and talk with at recess and at lunch. That pep talk accomplished, it was now my turn. As a mom in the 21st century, hosting/attending play dates is synonymous with the ‘playing outside and meeting the neighbor kids’. I knew meeting other moms/friends was important. Notably, I knew then that not only was it important for my kids to meet new friends, it was just as vital for me to do the exact same. It was also mandatory to maintain my own sanity. (To be able to have other adults to engage in conversation at least once a week is pretty much a requirement to stay rational as a stay-at-home-mom.) I had to make sure I stepped outside of my comfort zone and put myself out there, just like my own kids had to do.
I used the kids’ activities as an opportunity to start reaching out. Point blank I started conversations with people at basketball games, in lines at pickup and drop off, at the gym day care, which was not something I felt completely comfortable doing; yet, I knew how important it was to make sure I was meeting the parents of my kids’ classmates and also potential friends.
Getting Involved in the Community
Another great piece of getting acclimated is to get involved in the community outside of the schools; but honestly, I am really bad at this piece. I went to one community church group, and one mom’s club event. Researched information on a few book clubs at the library and even looked into taking a community trip to the city with others from the area. Yet, when it came time to attend each of these events, I found myself already too busy…which of course, is exactly what I wanted. A Catch-22? Perhaps, but with great story lines anyway.
Making it Home
This was the hardest piece, emotionally. It’s so hard to move. In fact, as my girlfriends and I talked about it this past weekend, I mentioned that the hardest part was the emotional exhaustion that goes along with trying to fit in, finding friends, and trying to make it feel like home. The playdates, the weekly coffee dates with girlfriends, and the occasional weekend getaway to explore the area began filling our calendars… but the final piece of the puzzle, making it home, just takes time. Slowly the conversations of ‘back home’ have changed to ‘back in the mid-west’ and the closets are now filling up with our new school colors. The kids have begun to fall in love with our new house; each day making a few new memories to bank away, and they are learning the school songs–right along with their new friends.
Fitting in is hard no matter how old, or young, and it is exhausting; however, it makes the scariness of a brand new place less scary. Getting involved and getting acclimated allows the beauty of new experiences to over shine the sadness of leaving old friends and leaving the comforts that come along with living in an area for a long time. So here we are, all settled in, busy with school and with friends, and with the impetus to belong and to own the big move. I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of this area, the school systems, the wonderful friendships that have been made. So the next time moving comes up in your conversation, don’t think of just the challenges uprooting offers, but most importantly, the blessings.