Recently, we moved across an ocean. It is never exactly a fun thing to move, exciting as change can be, but this move resulted in a bit more anxiety than our previous state-to-state moves. Since we are a military family, some of the details are taken care of; for instance, we don’t have to contract with a shipping company to transport our household goods. But we do have to decide what we’re taking, what we storing, store it, and then get rid of the rest.
We also had to have medical exams, dental exams, eye exams, and last minute haircuts. We got our passports, our plane tickets, our bags packed. We visited family, sold a car, had our mail held, bought our plane tickets, packed a black bag full of important documents that we chained to my husband’s wrist, metaphorically speaking, and notified all the landlord, utilities, and credit card companies of our departure.
Done. Then we boarded the plane and took off.
Upon arrival, we found a place to stay, bought a car, found schools for some of the kids, found home school connections for the rest of the kids. We signed up for medical care and dental care and had the mail forwarded. I found a hair salon I won’t go back to and a part-time job, even with a bad haircut. We found a soccer league and the library. We’ve discovered good and bad places to eat, to swim, and to hike.
And we’ve started to feel like we’re at home, now that some pictures and curtains are hung on the walls.
It has taken about six months to get from there to here. Not too long, but not a short time, either.
The kids didn’t choose this move. And if it were up to them, they wouldn’t have left their friends. Although they could always find something to complain about, being kids, they liked their old rooms, their old neighborhood, their old routines. It was not an easy decision to uproot them and remove them from a life that was comfortable and positive.
They complained, shed some tears. We tried to mitigate the sadness by having more than one going away party, by getting addresses, by letting the older kids sign up for Facebook, something I put off longer than they thought was fair. We bought new clothes and new shoes for the first week of school and for a boost of confidence. The girls received a new purple carpet. The boys got a new loft.
But probably the best thing we did was make them all go outside and wander the neighborhood, so they could meet some people to introduce us to. And sure enough, after the kids rode their scooters up and down the block a few times, the neighbor kids came out. Within a few days, the younger kids knew most of the kids on the block.
Now that a semester of school is nearly finished, the older kids have made friends at school also. They lived through their first day fears, and got involved in sports and projects. They are still Facebook friends with their classmates at their old school, but they’ve added friends from their new school, too. They still find plenty of stuff to whine to their parents about, but they are not complaining about being here anymore.
It is my hope that this experience will help them see how similar their peers are around the world. I also hope they recognize that they can overcome self-consciousness and fear in order to see new experiences as opportunities to grow and learn. But more than anything, I hope they hold onto confidence in their ability to adapt. They were thrown into a situation they didn’t want to be in, and they have not only endured it, they are flourishing. Although I’d love to be able to shelter them from future trials, I know that changes will come again. Seeing them adjust in this situation gives me faith in their resilience.