Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Moving kind of sucks.

As a military family, we've moved a lot. We've had nine homes in the 26 years we've been married. When we were newlyweds and when the kids were youngsters, it was every two years. Consequently, we have a whole collection of children's books that deal with moving, from Mr. Rogers' Moving to Heather McKend's Moving Gives Me a Stomach Ache. One of our favourites was Cindy Szekeres' Moving Day - we still have it, and still read it.

For me, moving is usually a time of great excitement: a new place to decorate, new friends to meet, a new job opportunity. When the kids were little, they mostly took it in stride. Katie, especially, would have a new best friend within hours of our arrival at the new home.

But I have to say that these moves have been hardest on Emily. Emily's friends are vitally important to her. But unlike her sister, who leaps into new friendships like a Golden Lab puppy, Emily's more like a cat: she takes a while to really warm up and trust her friends. She makes new friends quickly, but it takes a while before she really lets them in.

At one point when Emily was about 10, we thought we were going to be moving to Germany - a really exciting opportunity for our family. When we told the kids about it, Emily was so distraught that she ran to the bathroom and was sick to her stomach. That move fell through, but a year or so later when we told the kids about our move to Colorado, she took it hard.

She actually toilet-papered our bedroom and used some of my expensive lotions to smear the bathroom mirrors. She was huffy and angry. She sulked, but she didn't talk to us about it. And we didn't pursue it.

What I didn't realize was that the emotional trauma of the move sowed the seeds of a major depression for Emily. Two years later (I'm so sorry it took us that long!) we finally got her into therapy after she ran away from home one evening. The police found her at two in the morning.

And here we are again, facing another move - the last one, we hope. Emily's 17, going into her final year of high school, and she has a really great boyfriend here whom she loves. Could there possibly be a worse time for her to move? I don't think so. It just totally sucks.

Yesterday, Emily took down all the pictures and posters she'd plastered on her bedroom walls. I think, for her, that made the move just too real. Today, she's grieving. She doesn't want hugs, doesn't want to talk about it (with me, at least). She's made a little blanket-walled fort under her craft table and is snuggled there "chatting" with her friends. She just wants to be alone and work through it, I guess.

All I want to do is hold her and make it "all better." But I can't because, really, moving totally sucks. Especially when you're 17, going into your last year of high school, and have to say goodbye to your boyfriend.


  1. Why could she not stay for her last year ?

  2. As Canadian citizens, we are only allowed to stay here because of Steve's NATO visa. Once he returns to Canada, we all have to.

    That aside, with her history of major depression, I would not feel comfortable leaving her behind. We tried that with our eldest daughter and it did not go well at all.

  3. I moved to Singapore when I was 17, going into my last year of high school. I had a boyfriend at the time too that I was leaving behind. Everything about it sucked, but in the end I was so glad I went. I hope it will be the same for Emily. Emily is free to e-mail me if she wants to chat.

    Laura also had a hard time with moving as she had to move BACK from Singapore, to her old high school, in the middle of the year (and rather suddenly as well). She moved back to her friends, but some had changed and it was hard for her. I'm sure she'd be happy to chat as well.

    Wishing you guys the best!

  4. Thanks, Diane. I'm sure Emily will adjust fine, in the end. It's just a rough time for her, and I'm frustrated that there's very little I can do to help.

    Emily does have friends back in Ottawa who she's looking forward to seeing, so that helps. But, as Laura found, some will have changed, especially after five years. I'll mention your offer to Emily.


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