Change is difficult for even the most adaptable people. How we handle change is what makes all the difference. As a social worker, I was trained to be a “change agent,” which is ironic in a way when you consider that it was some type of significant change that often led to the state of crisis that required one to need a social worker. It may also be why outwardly, I generally appear to handle change calmly and without getting too ruffled, though the reality is that most of the time, I am a total mess on the inside. How my blood pressure remains low is a consistent source of amazement.
Our family is in the midst of a significant change. We have been renting a lovely home in a great neighborhood for the past four years. We now have to move. And so at the end of next week, we will say goodbye to our home. Although we never owned it, it was definitely ours. This is the longest our children have ever resided in one house due to previous relocations in recent years. It has been a difficult but necessary pill to swallow as the reality of moving day has drawn ever nearer.
Our priority from the beginning of this very long process has been to keep our kids in the same school. They have voiced this desire very strongly and clearly and consistently, and we vowed to do what we could to ensure this would happen. Unfortunately, the rental market in our town is much different today than it was when we arrived here four years ago, and our pickings were initially slim… And then none. And of course, everyone had an opinion about why we should just move elsewhere. Here is the reality – not all kids are super resilient. We decided that if we had the ability to minimize the amount of change in our lives, why wouldn’t we do that for the sake of our kids’ well-being? (And quite frankly, for mine as well. I know how our school works and the teachers and front office staff and other parents – I don’t really want to start all over with that again, either!)
So after searching the non-existent listings and considering all kinds of crazy options that I won’t elaborate on here – we decided to rent an apartment. We are really excited about this change – we will be living right in the heart of the downtown area of our suburb, which means we can walk to many places that we frequent. We will even be closer to school – the kids declared that they can walk without me, which means I don’t have to sit in front of the school every day idling while I wait for them, wasting both time and fuel. (If it’s pouring rain, I’ll still pick them up. I’m not that mean!) And I am really looking forward to simplifying and not having so much STUFF just because we can. I am honestly a little disgusted by how many belongings we have acquired and kept over the years – just because we could.
As part of this downsizing project, we have been selling much of our furniture and will use the money to buy new items that will fit better in a smaller space. We currently have nowhere to sit in our living room, which has been a fun experiment. Our huge stand mixer with a million attachments that we got as a wedding shower gift that I never used, despite everyone’s sworn oath that once I had kids I would use it all the time? Gone. But there are some bittersweet moments in all of this purging. My father-in-law’s (z”l) piano, which we have dragged around with us from move to move, even though none of us play. The comfy rocker where I held and fed and cuddled all my babies. Our swingset, which the kids hardly used but the presence of which somehow made me feel like we had a “real” suburban family. I keep reminding myself that these are just things, that the memories remain, and that our family being together supersedes any items we might own. But it’s still change. We will have to learn the comfortable spot on a new couch, and navigate the channel numbers on a new TV provider (since we will not be able to keep our satellite provider), and figure out new routines that play out better in our new physical space. And we will get there with all of it. But it will take some time to adjust to the change. How much time is anyone’s guess.