There’s less than a week remaining on our time in New Zealand. I’m a big mix of emotions right now. There are some times during the day when I feel OK but, if I’m being truthful, there are equally large parts of the time when I feel overwhelmed, sad, and some other emotion that I can’t quite put my finger on.
It’s been tough. It still is tough. It’s going to be tough.
Just having had a baby 6 weeks ago would have been enough to deal with. Add in caring for a soon-to-be two-year-old (this Friday!), saying good-byes to so many friends here, Chris wrapping up his semester and finishing his book, and sorting through all of our earthly goods with the goal of whittling things down to 3 suitcases, 3 carry-on bags, and a small shipping container about the size of a large cedar chest, and it’s almost too much.
I try not to think about the long flight that’s coming up or the fact that we don’t have a house or a car sorted in Virginia. We’ve got the first 5 weeks of housing covered, so that’s something to be thankful for (there are many things to be thankful for, truth be told). And as an introvert, I try not to think about the possible downsides to spending 3 weeks with family, starting next week. I love both sides of my family but sometimes, it’s hard for me to be around my own husband and kids, let alone around extended family members. I’m praying that our time together will be one of enjoyment and fun and strengthening relationships and that, when needed, I’m able to slip away for a few moments to recharge my batteries.
People have remarked to me that they admire my organization at being able to sort through all of our things and get it down to just the 3 suitcases, carry-on bags, and teeny-tiny shipping container. It’s half organization, half insanity. Listing all of our earthly goods on that wretched site, TradeMe, and dealing with up to 40 emails a day with questions that are usually already answered if people would just read the listing (how big is it? where is pick-up? what’s the voltage? what’s the wattage? when did you buy it? is this new? can I get it shipped to Australia?) has been frustrating at times. There’s a part of me that wants to simply toss everything out the window and let the street cleaners sweep it away. It’s been a lesson to me on how much time, energy, money, and emotion can be wasted on stuff. After 10 moves in 8 years of marriage, I’m tired of dealing with all of it.
This week is additionally busy because of birthdays. Chris’ birthday is today and Joe’s birthday is on Friday. I went out to the grocery store to buy ingredients. Of course, Chris did not want a traditional cake. He put in his birthday dessert request weeks ago. And here I am up at 5am trying to salvage it because, wouldn’t you know it, the caramel layer refused to set up. I think that it’s beyond redemption but I’m giving it my best shot. If it doesn’t come together I’m faced with the prospect of either tossing the whole thing and starting from scratch (requiring another trip to the grocery) or tossing the whole thing and just making a cake (which would also require another trip to the grocery since I only have enough cake-making ingredients for Joe’s birthday).
Last of all, there’s the sadness of leaving this place. When we first moved here, I felt for that first year that I wanted nothing more than to move back to America. But at the year and a half point, I was torn in two about what we should do. When Chris was offered his new job, we went back and forth on the pros vs cons. In the end, I had to leave the decision up to him because it was too hard for me to make. We both agreed that a lot of doors had been opened up for the job in Virginia and it seemed clear that we were meant to go back there.
I remind myself about all of those open doors when I’m beginning to doubt whether or not we made the right decision. America is such a violent place. I never felt that way until I lived outside of it. I still hold that people are much the same the world over, but the American fascination with gun rights and gun ownership is something that I can’t understand. I’ve been exposed to a different way of life, one where guns aren’t so prolific, and I’ve seen that it’s better that way.
In spite of all of my up and down feelings, I’ve got enough presence of mind to be able to take a step back and realize that this is an emotionally charged time. Moving is stressful. Having a baby is stressful. Leaving your job is stressful. Starting a new job is stressful. Spending a lot of money (such as on a house and a car) is stressful. We’re dealing with all of those things wrapped up into one big, supercharged situation right at the moment and it’s enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed and like they’re constantly on alert. I told Chris just the other day that I feel as though I’m dealing with a crisis, even though everything that we’re going through right now is a good thing.
I know that, over time, the emotional strain that I’m facing at the moment will wear off. In the meantime, I try not to be too grouchy. I try to go easy on myself when I wonder if I’m doing enough or getting things sorted enough. I try to be slow to speak and quick to apologize. I’m also trying to get enough sleep and sneak in some time to work out and recharge.
Moving is stressful. This move is looking to be the most stressful one that we’ve faced yet. I’m praying that all will come together and go well, but even if things are bumpier than expected, I know that we’ll get through it. There is an end in sight!