When I was young, I pictured having a family, having a career and raising kids in one place. It was hard for me to envision exactly what that looked like, but it wasn’t anything close to our real life experience so far.
When my husband and I were first dating, we lived in Jackson, MS. His job took him to Louisville, KY where we began the first year of our marriage. Our first daughter was born soon after that, but when she was about seven months old my husband brought home another relocation job opportunity. Luckily, this time it was my hometown of New Orleans, where my parents and friends still lived. We pictured ourselves spending Mardi Gras, food festivals and warm Christmases for many years to come!
Until things changed again. This move would be the hardest.
I am nine months pregnant as I’m writing this blog. We have been in our house — in lovely Chattanooga, TN — for about two weeks, away from family, friends and familiar territory. I could choose to feel bitter, resentful and anxious about our current situation and our future, but I would rather focus on the positive.
Moving has such a negative connotation — I would rather call it trading places.
Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. There have been many hard days where I question why we are relocating, yet again, with a two and a half year old and one on the way. Not to mention my parents are aging and will need me more than ever. But, because we have moved so many times already, it feels more like replacing old things with new.
As a mom, I feel naturally inclined to worry about the future. I let the “what ifs” infiltrate my head and sometimes picture worst-case scenarios. If I had not lived in five different cities since college, my negativity might be much worse. I have learned to adapt to new climates and cultures pretty seamlessly, except the having kids part. I can deal with feeling homesick, lonely or lost on a back road fairly well, but when you bring children into the mix, it gets a little more complicated.
Emotions come into play when you see your children struggle with change.
Before the move, most people would comment on how well kids adapt to change, saying things like, “she will be fine.” I now know, children are just as sensitive as they are tough. While they are good at adjusting, they cope with changes much differently than adults. In our case, this adjustment was in the form of potty training regression, severe attachment to mommy, and aggression. I almost do not recognize the child I once had in Louisiana. It is sad and scary to say the least. However, I know this is temporary.
The longer we are here, the more hopeful I feel for our family’s future. Our routine looks very different from the way it did one month ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
I’ve traded a 10-minute walk to school for a 15-minute scenic drive.
Our “going downtown” excursions into a fairly dangerous New Orleans French Quarter are now a short, safe walk across a beautiful pedestrian bridge.
The view from of our windows is no longer into our neighbor’s house, but through orange and red leaves that line our backyard.
Our visits with family are a week full of quality, uninterrupted time rather than pick up and drop offs or quick meals at mom and dad’s house.
“Making groceries,” as south Louisiana folks refer to it, can now be a pleasant family outing to the farmer’s market on Sundays.
I don’t know how long we will live in Chattanooga or what our future family looks like, but I know that I learn to appreciate each place I live as much as the last, even if it is different. And I’m grateful that I can pass this onto my children because it will only make them stronger.