Do You Know What It Means

So our family is moving.  Again.

I got a job a few months ago, but requested a delayed start date til the first of the year, so the boys could finish their semester.  In the interim, I have kept the news quiet while slowly, unobtrusively dismantling the life we put together here in Alabama.  It has been, in a word, depressing.  In three words – depressing and stressful.

Those of you who have followed along since 2012 (or earlier) may remember us designing and building our “forever home.”  A lot of hope went into the plans of that house, designed to grow with the family’s growth, and when we moved in I had this comforting sense of “we have arrived.”  I worked constantly of course (private law firms kind of require that), but in the bits and bobs of time I had left over, we really tried to get out there in the community and get to know people, make friends, build a life.  We put the boys in piano lessons and Cub Scouts, bought a backyard playground and put in a basketball hoop and had a custom length kitchen table made to fit in our breakfast nook.  I really went all-in on this thing, I’m telling you.

But, for oh so many reasons, it didn’t work.  It would never have worked.  I overestimated my ability to be happy anywhere.  To put it vaguely (on purpose), I have struggled to forge strong emotional ties with people whose world-view is alien to me.  I’ve also struggled with the size of the city – there are fewer economic opportunities, and most of them are open only to Old Money and established families.  There were some issues with my career trajectory at work – mostly because the opportunities to advance lay outside my area of expertise.  However, options to move to a better fit are scarce here.  To be a little more open and blunt, this is a very difficult place to be a woman in a “man’s job.”

We held on longer than I otherwise would because the boys’ school is so good, our house is so comfortable and well-built and perfect for us, my commute is so good.  Ultimately, even those things couldn’t sustain us, especially as the boys started getting more and more upset about the Professor’s weekly departures.  We made the decision in the early fall, and immediately began putting the ducks in a row to make the move.

I found a job first – stunningly easy.  I’m at that sweet spot in my career where I am a hot commodity, for the first time ever.  After that, we sold our house – also stunningly easy.  It’s a nice damn house, people, I tell you what, and I hate to lose it.  After that, we began researching schools which has been a total nightmare – long story short, so-called “Parent Choice” should instead be called “the Hunger Games,” as parents fight over the few decent public school spots.  There is no neighborhood zoning for public schools – you get in by lottery, and of course there are no spots for mid-year transfers, so we had to go private for this semester.  We are hopeful to get into a public school next fall, but even that isn’t guaranteed (well, we could def go to a failing one 15 miles from our house, but you know . . .)  Craig is on the waiting list at a dozen daycares, though there are no spots there either so we had to do the nanny thing.  The kids had to have a psychological evaluation and a day-long sit-in-class session at their new school, which we accomplished.  Final doctor appointments, all the house-sale stuff (inspection, termite, fixing things that came up in the inspection, title work, etc.), accomplished.  We were not able to locate a home in New Orleans, so we’re in a temp apartment for now, which I hate (moving twice!) but could not be avoided.  We scheduled storage units and packers and made arrangements for the 2 week gap between losing our house and moving to our apartment.  I bought all the Christmas presents, arranged to have them shipped, put up the Christmas decorations Nov. 27th and took them down 2 weeks later (so the kids would have some sense of normalcy).  And at last, on Friday, I was able to give my notice at work.

So now we’re “out” and official and all.  It’s been a season of duality – melancholy and excitement, looking forward with guarded hope and looking backward with potent disappointment.  I wanted to love you, Alabama, I really did.  I wish I could have made it work.

The boys are also of two minds.  When we told them about the move, they reacted with joy and excitement.  Each loved the new school on the one day they had to sit in on class – apparently Liam went around and hugged each kid good-bye, and can’t wait to see them again in January.  (It’s so expensive AUGH but it really is an awesome school – full of art and computer science and lots of recess.  They put on plays, they have music, they have a nice computer lab.  1 class for each grade, and each class has about 15 students I think, so very small.)  Tears will come this Friday, when they leave their current school for the last time, but for now they are nothing but thrilled to go back to NOLA.  On the flip side, their subconscious is doing a number on them (and me).  They’re behaving abominably right now – quick to melt into a puddle of tears, quick to have a tantrum, Jack is giving me sass like I’ve never had out of him and Liam is basically on a hunger strike.  As the house is slowly taken over by boxes, they are internally struggling with the change. I am, too – I just walk around sometimes, after they’re in bed and the Professor is gone to NOLA, and trail my hands along the walls and weep like I’m some emo high school kid in a bad tv movie.  I’ll be so glad to get out of there at last – I love it so much, it would have been easier to rip off the bandaid and just leave. Instead, as I’ve told numerous folks, it’s like my live-in boyfriend and I broke up 3 months ago but he won’t move out.

Well, I’ve written enough for today.  Right now I just feel kind of awful and blah, as we’re in the middle of moving hell and my nest is all in disarray.  But we’ll make it through.  More to come. For now, back to that endless list of tasks, all the myriad tiny things that we have to un-do to pull ourselves up out of this life that didn’t work well for us, and strike out again to try out a new one.

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5 Responses to Do You Know What It Means

  1. joy says:

    Oh, wow. What a huge change. You don’t know me, but I’m sending you hugs and good wishes and hoping that this move is the right one, and hoping that things settle well and you and your Professor and your beautiful small people have a most merry Christmas and that you are able to luxuriate in being together, every day, all week, every week in the new year.

    Also, I have great admiration for your willingness to take on a challenge but also acknowledge when things aren’t working, even very big things like Job, House, Community. It is a good reminder that we can make hard choices, that we can admit that the hoped-for will not be, that we can try a different way. Right now I am trying to psychologically ready myself to return to work after the holidays. Thank you for this post. I needed to remember that if my job and I are no longer compatible now that I am a parent, so be it. I can find another job. I can try a different way of combining my family responsibilities and professional ambitions. Thank you.

  2. Simone says:

    You are doing the right thing. Definitely.

    If things don’t work out and you are not happy, change something. Sooner than later. It takes a lot of courage to leave an ok-situation behind to reach for something better.

    I can totally relate to not being happy in the Alabama-man’s world. And separation from husband and father during the week is another thing. So, put on your big girl pants, survive this hell of a move (o my gosh, moving with three kids…) and have a merry x-mas and a perfect 2016. In a month things will be much better. In a year this moving situation will only be a fading memory.

  3. Tammy says:

    Fellow mommy lawyer, long-time reader, only recent commenter. WOW! What a thing to take on! You are one plucky woman. It’s so easy to stay put (especially when one has to move three young boys!), but moving to a place where your family can be together full-time, that’s a bit more…progressive…well, how could that be anything other than the right decision? Wishing you nothing but the best with this move. Hang in there! I look forward to reading future blog posts about your new, awesome life in NOLA!

  4. Amanda says:

    You’ve always been one for big risks and big change. Cant wait for Hannah’s first visit to the Big Easy!

  5. Margaret says:

    What joy said. You are brave to make what sounds like a long-term change for the better. After this stressful transition, I bet you will look back on this decision thankfully. Good luck with the move!!!

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