A moving story of fiction written by a man:
You’ve met those folks who plan their lives down to the last detail and spread out significant life events? That’s not my husband or me.
So it was that I found myself frantically packing up our belongings and doing my best to manoeuvre our many boxes while holding a six-month-pregnant bump while also holding the hand of an almost three-year-old.
Although we had planned for this transfer, which took place in our third year in a row, the physical and mental demands of pregnancy made things particularly difficult. In addition to those stresses, having to deal with an over-anxious anxiety about how he would cope, along with sorting out our daycare situation and all of the other things that were on my to-do list, combined with insomnia and the impact of pregnancy on my caffeine intake which left me very agitated.
Logistics presented us with some problems, but it was far from difficult. In an effort to keep our son’s life as consistent as possible, we waited until the end of the vacation to do the majority of the packing. The time was spent on figuring out where all the baby clothes came from. we sorted our possessions into three piles: keep, donate, and discard
We had a strategy: leave toys and books for the night before to pack up; take him to McDonald’s for “Old McDonald” (that’s a McDonald’s trick to get a sleepy child in time for bedtime) and burn off his energy on the playground. It ended up working against us, and our son was left with a tired but wired toddler who became hysterical once he returned home to discover boxes filled to the brim in every room of his soon-to-be ‘old house.’
Cue us in a frenzied packing and moving rush at midnight, as we rush to try to shove his belongings into the moving van before the movers arrive at 7am. Just before the truck arrived, he’d fall asleep till just before the bedtime to say farewell to the rooms. though it was just the two of us who knew that the final time he’d see them would be his last,
That whole time, as weeks of conversations and books spent talking about what was going to happen that day, and how, started to make sense to him, we saw them driving in to load our belongings into their trucks. That “really, really huge truck” was driving up to the new house to meet us.
We were fortunate enough to have an army of eager volunteers standing by to help us out with childcare and with unpacking, which is an enormous benefit of relocating closer to relatives. I really have no idea how we would have done without them: don’t even think of doing this on your own.
The most difficult part was unpacking. Introducing a youngster to a new home full with his belongings was one thing; trying to explain something that was beyond his comprehension was an entirely different story. I’d anticipated – and been prepared for – a lot of tears. What I hadn’t anticipated was a child who was so enthused that he actually raced laps around every room until he finally fell asleep at 10 p.m. Not the relaxing first night any of us were looking forwards to.
But he’s taken us by surprise. We had anticipated requests to return to the previous house and requests to visit old haunts because our youngster was not one to embrace change. Instead, as soon as we pull out of the driveway, he requests to be dropped off at his ‘new residence.’ He’s been escorted to his neighbourhood playground, where he’s settling in nicely. It’s made me realise just how much we, as parents, often underestimate our children, particularly their ability to cope under pressure. In this particular situation, he has demonstrated that he possesses greater maturity and fortitude than I had previously assumed.
There have been several difficulties in the shift. There have been several major meltdowns (as was to be expected), and his sleeping has taken a significant blow as a result (as has ours). Our attempts to make his big boy bed more appealing (hello, Paw Patrol doona cover) have failed, and he chooses to take up residence in ours. As well as being slightly more sensitive to tiny shocks, he has given me the confidence to think that we will eventually get there.
When you combine the physical toll of all of this with the added stress of being pregnant and preparing the old house for resale, you end up with one of the most physically gruelling weeks of your life. Don’t make the same mistake we did and outsource your cleaning. It wasn’t until I noticed that people were staring at me strangely as I was balancing on a step ladder while washing windows that I began to seriously reconsider my decision.
To say nothing of the fact that we were returning home, smelling of dust and Windex, to an overtired child who couldn’t cope with being separated from us all day because it was one thing too many, while the two of us, who were sore, drained, and without an internet connection to use the fail-safe calming tool of cartoons, were forced to summon some semblance of patience.
We, on the other hand, are in. We’re getting used to it, and we’ve discovered a whole new world that we’re excited to explore. Even as we prepare for the next big task of welcoming a new baby into his life, the toddler is taking it all in stride.