Ask anyone who’s done it and they’ll agree. Moving’s the worst.
Two years ago we started moving and we haven’t stopped. Don’t think for a second I’m talking ’bout the exercise revolution type of moving. Not a chance. I’m talking ’bout the cardboard box, truck-transporting, change-of-address type of moving.
My daughter will be three next week. As of today, she has changed her address five times. By her fourth birthday, that number should bump up by one. Then nobody’s going anywhere ’til they can do it themselves.
Five moves. Five seasons of packing. Five seasons of unpacking. Five adjustments. Five goodbyes.
Moving’s the worst.
And while each dwelling left behind deserves its own sorrows, it’s not the walls, the floors, or the doors which make moving the worst. We move to new (to-us) walls, floors, and doors. We fill different rooms with our same stuff. We find new routes from our beds to our baths to our coffee makers. Moving is change and moving changes us. Here are three things moving has taught me:
1. The Obvious: It’s the People
It’s not rocket science. We all know it. But it’s never felt more than when we pick up our accumulations and we don’t get to take the people with us. I’ve moved across town. I’ve moved across the state. I’ve moved across state lines. I’ve moved across the country. No matter how far or near your move is, you leave people behind. You leave behind the way things were.
Our latest home was a no-brainer to move out of. It simply didn’t fit our lifestyle or our family. Every aspect of the house design drove us bonkers. Our son’s bed wouldn’t even fit in his room, a room we needed two kids to fit into. It’ll be a great house for another family, but for us, it just didn’t work.
But what did work was our neighbors. A little boy and a little girl, not far in age from our own. Ours would see them outside and yell their names faster than they could slip on shoes and be out the door. Their kids were at our door like clockwork every weekend morning at 11 and six every evening. We had a designated spot for the ever-growing collection of stuff left behind (always a pair of shoes, a light saber, and a happy meal toy of sorts.) They had a similar pile across the street. There was an ongoing “____ left their shoes – do you need them tonight?” text thread between the parents.
The kids played. The parents became friends (thanks to all the necessary shoe-trades). But we really hadn’t been inside each other’s houses. The night we moved out, they invited us over for dinner and the kids had a last hurrah together. We joked about how fun it was and at the same time, what horrible timing. We wouldn’t be neighbors anymore. We were now the sort of friends who had each other over, into each others’ homes. That’s a thing, right?
Our dynamic – as we know it – is over. Our yelling across the street, returning shoes, sending kids over unsupervised dynamic is over. A new dynamic is coming. The kids won’t see each other on a moment’s notice. It’ll take intention to get them together. We had a good thing going. Great neighbors. Instant playmates. Neighborhood buddies. Moving brings relational change and change brings uncertainty. Moving’s the worst.
2. The Other Obvious: Stuff is a Pain
Moving would be fairly simple if we didn’t have to bring the stuff with us. Throughout our last few moves, I sensed confusion in our four-five-now-six year old. It wasn’t innate to him that we’d bring everything with us. He would ask if we could take some of his favorite toys with us “to the new house.” He wanted to know if the TV could come, too. He kept asking, “but what about the Legos?” when we were on trip number two of nine hauling items across town. He didn’t know that it all was coming. And that it all coming had a price tag and a lot of inconvenience attached.
Every time we’ve moved, we’ve purged. Pared down every thing we owned to what we felt we couldn’t live without. We moved to Florida with two carloads of stuff. Piled atop, between, and under three children. When we returned, I wondered – all this stuff we stored – we’d lived without it for a year – did we really need it? That same stuff (and more) stayed in storage for another year, while we sorted through our living situation and prepared to move again. Boxes upon boxes of stuff we haven’t needed for 2+ years and were still storing and moving. What a pain. Why?
Not to mention the hours I’ve spent packing the bare necessities. And the hours I’m about to spend unpacking. Stuff, why did you follow us here again?!
3. Moving Becomes Part of Your Story
Some might say we are doing our children a disservice with all this displacement and transition. Others might say it’s building adaptable kids or preparing them to be lifetime travelers. No one can say for sure. What I do believe is that these moves are part of their stories, for good or for bad. These moves are shaping who they are. These moves have bubbled things to the surface. These moves have introduced them to new people, new ideas, new memories. These moves have created new problems. These moves have impacted how they view the world. These moves have widened their scope and loosened their roots. It’s not awful and it’s not amazing. It just is. These moves are part of their story. They are part of my story and our story. They’ve affected us positively and negatively.
I wouldn’t trade these moves. I wouldn’t wish them upon my worst enemy. But I wouldn’t trade them. I wouldn’t trade the story. Because it’s my story. The people have made it worth it. The purging of goods has made it worth it. The growth has made it worth it. The discoveries has made it worth it. The memories have made it worth it.
Moving isn’t easy. Dare I say, moving’s the worst. But these moves have made permanent sign posts in my story. They’ve forced complacent things to change. They’ve pushed us to uncomfortable moments. They’ve invited fresh perspective. Moving has simply put strong titles to the chapters of my story.
How has moving impacted your story?