Good friends of ours came over the other night for a glass of wine and to talk about some big news. I am always grateful for good conversation over wine with friends, but a taste of the grape didn't make the news any less painful to hear.
Our friends are getting transferred to Arizona. Which, if you have to move your family anywhere in the U.S., is one of the best places (in my opinion) to have to go to. Of course we will be sad to see them leave, but it will absolutely give us a good excuse to go visit!
Our friends have three kids. Two girls; one is in eighth grade, the other in fifth grade, and their son is in first grade. While mom and dad are excited about moving back to whence they came, these kids have spent their entire lives in Flower Mound, Texas. Our friends look at this as a good year to move since their oldest will start high school in fall, middle child will begin middle school, and the youngest isn't fully vested in the elementary school just yet. The plan is for mom and kids to stay long enough to get through the girls' "moving on" ceremonies before they head West.
This brought back a lot of memories for me. You see, eight years ago we were in the same boat. While Nick was through high school and beginning his college courses in Wisconsin, Allen-Michael was an eighth grader who'd studied and socialized with the same kids since kindergarten. Brigham was in third grade at the time of our impending Texas move, Maddux and Mia were young enough they didn't care where we lived as long as we were together.
There was a great deal of change that took place during those five months for me and the rest of our family. Saying goodbye to people I'd worked with, friends, family, our favorite restaurants...
And man could I empathize with my friend as she talked about getting ready to sell a home she loves (I still miss our last home in Wisconsin, which was by far my favorite of any we've lived in). She'll be doing that alone while he'll already have gone to work in their new town knee deep in making a difference in his new position.
Of course they have tried to sell it as "a family adventure" (as did Tom and I when we told our kids). They have tried to reason with their oldest that while she'll miss her friends here, college is only four years away and LOTS of people have to go through big moves and changes, eventually she will be glad for the experience it gave her to grow as a person.
Their middle is free-spirited, much like Brigham was when we moved. We honestly felt he would bounce right into life in Texas. While that wasn't necessarily the case, he shared a recent English prompt he wrote with me about facing a big challenge in life and has (after more than a handful of years) come to think of our move south as a gift. We continue to marvel at how close he is to his (still) best friend from Wisconsin, Alex, even though they are lucky to see one another once a year for a brief few days.
I don't envy the coming months for this couple, or their kids. While the move is necessary, the months of transition can be hard to swallow.
I shared some advice with my friend, about this big move and what, based on my experience, the months ahead might bring emotionally...I thought I would share it here as well in case you, or a family you know is going through the same growing pains.
- Allow the kids to feel what they are going to feel. It will likely change from day to day as they begin to accept a new reality and let go of what they've known for their whole life. Ultimately change is good, the process is what is sometimes painful. Don't minimize their feelings by brushing them off, or ignoring, or telling them to stop feeling that way, or telling them they don't really feel that way. Just accept the feelings as they come and give them space and support to express the sad, angry, excited, scared....whatever. Just be.
- Don't be afraid to ask friends for help during this transition. With your spouse gone already and three kids to continue on at the usual pace for the next few months, your hands will be very full. Deciding what to bring, what to donate, getting out of the house at a moments notice for a showing, appointments with moving companies, hell just the everyday ups and downs of life will be overwhelming at times. Let someone drive your kiddo to the practice, or make you dinner, or even sit down and listen to you vent over a glass of wine (btw I am great at this...hint, hint).
- Have patience with your spouse. New jobs are always full of stress and unknowns. Hopefully he'll reciprocate.
- Take time for yourself. A walk on a spring-like Texas day, lunch with a girlfriend, and of course an occasional message are definitely in order. You cannot give what you do not have.
- Know that you can't rush time. And time is what you'll all need to readjust. Once under the same roof again, in your new town, it will feel much more adventurous as you explore together!
I can honestly say, although it's taken many years, that I cannot imagine raising our kids or living anywhere else at this point (although I can do without the sometimes cold winter days...), the change allowed me to grow as a person, and we certainly grew as a family because of making the big move.
Change and growth are good.