During our summer blog break, as Wendi and I shared posts from the archives, I found myself knee-deep in a steady stream of big life changes. I will be the first to admit, the changes I have been navigating have been predominantly positive. Most notable is that my family moved into a new house! We have been saving, dreaming, and searching for our forever home and in May we took the leap and made the move. At the same time of this major move, my youngest “graduated” Pre-Kindergarten, officially making me the mom of two school-age children. In addition, I resigned from my job of nine years to take the plunge into a new opportunity. In short, life has been full of changes and celebrations. However, in the midst of the celebrations, I have also experienced a heavy heart, remembering happy experiences from the past as well as grieving the comfort of the consistent.
I have been singing the Dixie Chicks version of Stevie Nicks’ song “Landslide” on repeat in my head the past month. In particular the chorus:
“… Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older too”
Because, in all honesty, I am not that good at navigating change. Part of this is due to an overwhelming sentimental attachment to objects and locations and their associated memories. This characteristic is something I have carried with me since childhood when I would assign feelings to my stuffed animals and memories to different objects. These sentimental assignments would in turn create attachments that would cause me to keep, well, everything. For example, I still have my black haired, furry pet rock that my grandma bought for me when I was nine. Or perhaps even more telling, is the piece of carpet from my childhood house I found while going through boxes before our recent move; when I was a teenager, I could not accept the fact that my parents were going to update the carpet, removing the carpet that I had grown up with. In a last ditch effort to appease my sentimental emotions, my dad cut off a corner of the old carpet for me to keep. Now, 20+ years later, I still have it.
Now, keep this perspective of my highly emotional attachment to things and imagine me recently moving out of the home that I bought as a newlywed, lived in for 10 years, and raised my two children from infancy to school age. That house holds so many memories. The sweet people who bought our home are lucky I didn’t cut squares of carpet out of all the rooms.
The first couple of weeks in our new house were full of both celebrations and frustrations. Despite careful planning and thorough inspections prior to moving in, we had to deal with several unanticipated and costly repairs almost immediately after unpacking the moving truck. Then, while each room in the house was still piled to the ceiling with boxes, my entire family rotated turns being sick in a seemingly never-ending cycle. Due to the chaos, I had a hard time feeling grounded. Places I would usually turn to for consistency during seasons of transition were also changing at equally rapid paces. The combination of a new home, accompanied by the anticipation of a new school for my kids and a new job for me, caused everything in my life to feel unstable. The ensuing anxiety confirmed my suspicion that I am unable to effortlessly navigate change.
Of course, the transition into our new house wasn’t all awful. I hope I will always remember a (now) humorous moment that happened on one of our first nights. For the past few years, we have had a family tradition of “Sunday movie night.” We pick a movie, eat supper, and cuddle all together on the couch. Although it was the first Sunday in our new home, I was determined to continue our movie night tradition. Due to a variety of mishaps, we were unable to hook up our TV, we did not have internet, and our couch cushions were missing. But, movie night WAS GOING to happen. I pulled up our movie on my phone, propping it on a box, as we settled onto the cushionless couch springs. I went to the kitchen to get our lasagna out of our new gas oven (that apparently runs hot) and it was burnt. I threw my hands in the air as tears stung my eyes and decided to cut it up anyway. I carried it to the living room where my daughter looked at me with wide eyes and whispered, “Do I have to eat it?” I plopped down onto the couch springs and laughed. I laughed at the mini-movie, the cushionless couch, the burnt lasagna, the mountain of boxes, and the 500 other unexpected frustrations. And I realized, sometimes change wins. We scrounged up some non-burnt food and squinted at my phone as we sat together on the couch.
I don’t know what it was about that particular moment during our Sunday movie night, but somewhere between my meltdown and laughter, I realized that this new home would also be full of memories. Just as I continue to hold memories from my childhood home, multiple houses throughout my college and early adulthood years, I realized I would continue to cherish many memories from my family’s first house.
I spent the next couple of weeks reminding myself of this reality. That even in the midst of endings there is still the hope and excitement that accompanies beginnings. At times the changes have felt a lot like leaving a portion of my heart, with the memories attached, to specific buildings, schools, jobs. But, isn’t that part of life? That we leave a little footprint behind on all of the places we go. And yet, there always seems to be enough left to begin again.
This is not to say it has been smooth sailing ever since I experienced this realization; even the comfort of new memories and new beginnings hasn’t made the hectic waves of multiple changes less stressful. I am still struggling, hoping to soon find solid ground in the comfort of a new routine. However, I am confident that at some point I will establish a new rhythm in our new house, at my new job, in my kids’ new school. I look forward to writing more about my career changes in a future post, as well as the excitement and emotions of sending another child to kindergarten. But, for now I will continue to sing to myself about change and the emotions attached to holding on to past experiences and memories while also creating new memories and new routines, as life continues to change.
Jessica is a wife, mom, social worker, and aspiring writer. She is co-author of the blog The Unexpected Ever Afters.
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