Monday, April 4, 2011
Eye on the Prize
The other day I told my husband that the details of this cross-country move we’re about to make sometimes make me feel like I’m in the middle of a difficult pregnancy. I get so tied up with the anguish in the middle that I forget about the baby we’ll see on the other end.
When we first realized we’d like to settle long term in Colorado all I could think about was the ‘baby’ - the amazing scenery we could call our backyard, the dry climate that would remedy some of our health issues, and the wide variety of National Parks we’d be able to explore on long weekends. After a long, winding road of events, the job finally came through. That western state would be our new home. But suddenly the pictures of the baby slipped from my mind.
In almost an instant the lists began to form. There were so many things that needed to be done, to get our family uprooted from this home we’ve had in New York for a handful of years. Colorado was no longer in the forefront of my thoughts. New York was. The things we loved about New York and the things that needed to be done before we could walk away from this East coast life.
Of course getting the house on the market was a top priority. All of those ‘let’s finish some day’ projects had to be done, today. We did major updates when we moved here, but a family of six can be hard on a house, especially when that family includes three active boys. There were finger prints to wash off every light switch and dings to repair in bedroom walls.
We’ve watched the shows on HGTV. We knew all those fun colors that the kids picked for their bedroom walls would have to be made more buyer friendly. The ceilings, which were the only surfaces not to be changed when we moved in, finally needed a nice coat of paint. The bathrooms got simple updates, with new flooring, fixtures and bead board. One of my friends wisely commented, “It’s like you’re doing every HGTV show, all at once!”
I’m sure my Facebook friends are tired of hearing about it. I’ve been scattered and weary for the past few weeks. The silver lining has surely been the visitors we’ve had the past two weekends. A week ago we spent some quality time with my mother in law and father in law, as they helped us clip away at our lists. Then this past weekend my handy brother in law, and his wife, blessed us with their home repair skills also. The irony for them is that the memories we’re making are just propelling us closer to a move far away from them.
Besides the undying support of wonderful in-laws, the other thing that keeps me sane is the little snapshots of what’s coming in our new life. Just when I’m getting caught up in the chaos of my current home life, I get a blast of fresh encouragement. The other day it was a man and his young daughter, checking out books about the National Parks in the west. They were planning a family trip there and wanted to do some research.
As I scanned the book’s bar codes and slipped the due date cards in their slots, a comment slipped out of my mouth. “I’m moving out west in a few months. I’ll live right next to these parks.” The little girl’s eyes grew wide. Her dad graciously replied, “That’s really great! Good luck with your move.” It hit me again. I’m moving. To a place that’s in the shadow of those amazing parks. Don’t forget the image of the baby.
Then a significant date arrived on the calendar. My dad’s birthday was Sunday. I sent him a card and then an email, but it’s been way too long since I’ve given him a hug. In the five years since we’ve lived in New York, he’s been able to come see us just twice. We’ve traveled back to his house in Missouri just once. I’ve seen my dad (and my kids have seen their maternal grandmother and grandfather) just three times in five years. That fact hurts my heart.
He and my stepmom volunteer at a YMCA camp in Colorado every autumn. I’ll get to see them every year once we live there. At least once a year - maybe even more. My siblings in the western part of the country will become more familiar to my children too. My crazy little brother, who has always been able to make me laugh, will be able to drive to my house in just over a day. His son, who’s growing up way too quickly, will soon have active memories of his Aunt Judy. The same can be said for most of my other nephews and nieces, the children of my own siblings.
It will be very difficult to drive away from the large, loving group of people I married into over two decades ago. But it will be a joy to spend more time with my side of the family too. It’s the ultimate definition of bittersweet for me.
Every big change in life has benefits and drawbacks. Every decision changes the road that memories will take. This is the hard part about being a grown up. Having to weigh the good and bad for a family with so many personalities and opinions can be daunting. The day we decided to move our family away from this great place called New York, we were very aware that it would change the course of six different lives.
But the train’s on the tracks. It’s hurling forward. It’s time to stop pondering the implications of what’s coming down the tracks and pick up a paintbrush. Those bathroom walls aren’t going to paint themselves.