Just over a year ago (July 4th 2014) my world changed (not for the first time – I am 40, please) in a huge way. The changes before never really phased me. I love adventures. I left home at 17 for adventure. I made my way and loved to do things the hard way. Explore and blaze my own path. Life is adventure! Marriage, kids, moving to Europe for 4 years. Taking on new challenges and exploring new things is fun and exciting! Bring it on!!
This time, I was not ready. For the first time since I left home at the age of 17 I had done something I had never done before. I had settled in. This was so very new to me. A concept I had never really experienced since I was a child. I had no idea how to deal with this new mixture of feelings. I wanted to be excited for the adventures, but I was really only liking the adventures where I came back home after a week, or two. I didn’t want this adventure. All adventures in the past had always lead back to Kitchener. We are not new to the chaos of moving and travel. It took me 20 years to get around to settling in somewhere to begin with, so unsettled is not a totally foreign concept. We are not first time expats, or green at being Canadians abroad. Though this is the first time we have moved away from Canada without a return date. Funny how small things make such a big difference.
I have 3 young children to help deal with this move that changed their worlds. They were scared. They don’t remember Europe. They barely remember the move from the old house two blocks away in Kitchener. This place, this home, was what they knew. Many big emotions that are tough as adults to handle that I have had to coach my children through. How do you coach them through concepts you are barely managing to understand? So what is a mother to do? Ignore how I feel and throw myself into helping the kids! Logical right?!
Well, one year has gone by. It took almost everything I have in me but the kids are settling in. School is so different. Cultures are more different than we thought they would be. Making friends was a concept lost to all of us. Their friends were all kids they had gone to school with for years or have grown up with. How do you make a new friend? A concept my husband and I realised we had not really had to do either. Even in Europe. Sure we made friends along our lives, but never having to make an effort to do so. People just kind of came along. It is not quite like that when you don’t know anyone to start with. We no longer live in the city and things are further to get to and we do less away from our peaceful home. Like a security bubble. That is a good thing to slow down, but it makes your people circle small and can be isolating. Loneliness is something we have all become more aware of.
So I have finally come to the point where I must go back to those feelings from a year ago. Crats.*
When we first discussed and made the choice for this move I saw it as a 5-7 year sentence. I came “under duress”. I really had no desire to move. I gave up my life I had built. My family, my friends, my comforts and my network of support became so far away. My most favourite thing to do (climbing) is not so easily available in mid Ohio. I was lost. I am lost. One year later and I still have no idea how to face my feelings of this move.
We have had great adventures in the last year. We always do. All together and alone. We have made great friends here already and our home is growing into our happy place quite nicely. Nothing is wrong, but nothing is completely right yet. I say yet to be optimistic. The house is half done. The yard is half done. Well, ok, maybe the yard is a quarter done. I do try to stay optimistic. Most of the boxes are unpacked and that is all pretty normal for the crazy life we live. Always projects and things to settle in. I guess I am getting a tad tired of that. I would like to enjoy things for a while instead of always molding a place to fit us. Can we ever enjoy the feel of a comfy place for a while? Walk into my home and think, “ahhh”, instead of “oh yeah, I did not get to that yet”. I mean I get that ahhh in fleeting moments, but we have always had stuff to do and just when we get it all done, guess what? We’re moving.
All of the stress pays a price on us. The kids and the parents. The good and the bad stress all affects our bodies and minds. Anxiety runs rampant in our household. Trying to calm it all down is some days a full-time job for me. It is exhausting. I get run down and need time to recharge. My husband is crazy busy with work and it is hard for me to get that recharge time. He is still searching for time and ways for his recharge time. Eventually I get recharged and we start all over again. Such is life. Just exaggerated more than most people’s I think. Maybe not. Maybe our situation is no different from anyone else’s. All I can go by is what we know. Settling in the last 8 years in Kitchener was lowering that stress issue for us. The move peaked it and brought it all rushing back. This year really was exhausting. Anyone who has done a big family move can totally relate.
I have always had trouble deciding what I want to do when I grow up. Probably should get around to that. I was starting to focus on the topic right before the move, soooooooo I guess it is time.
So I am not sure if the project is the family, the home we are building or me. I guess it is all of it. A lot can happen in a year.
*Crats – rats and crap combined so there is no “swearing”. A zoeism**
**Zoeism – words my youngest makes up. She is good at that!