As soon as the kids got home from school the other day, my 6-year-old came bounding through the door, begging to play with his friends. Meanwhile, my 8-year-old quietly sat down at the table and started his homework.
This was strange for me because three weeks ago their behavior would have been entirely reversed. It was my 8-year-old begging to play with his friends and my 6-year-old demanding to stay indoors.
But then we moved. And now I’m faced with a personality swap and five kids adjusting to a move that totally rocked their world.
From my perspective, our move was physically difficult. The logistics of transferring the belongings of seven humans from one house to a different house was overwhelming. There were times I could have cried over the amount of packing and unpacking. But now that we’re mostly settled, so are my emotions. This is home now. This is our new place.
I’ve even almost mastered driving on autopilot directly here without taking a detour through our old neighborhood.
For my kids, the adjustment is just now happening. The snow has melted and the afternoons are mostly spent outside. Only they don’t know anybody.
We haven’t programmed parents’ cell numbers into my phone, so there aren’t any friends only a text away. We don’t know our neighbors or the ages of the kids on our street. Or even their names. We aren’t even totally confident which house has kids and which house doesn’t.
And now that the boxes are out of the way and we’re spending more time within these walls, the house itself is revealing its personality. Everyone struggles opening the sliding door. The dishwasher is louder and more aggressive than the one we had before. Our floors creak in places we don’t expect them to. The basement is an exciting space for the five of them during the day, but not one of them is willing to be left alone down there after dark.
All five of them have moments of pure comfort and excitement as they find out new things about our new house and neighborhood — only to crash into the pits of despair as their little brains try to catch up to the big life change.
Solo, the 6-year-old, is the only one of them brave enough to jump into already-established friend groups and interrupt a game of basketball to see if he can play, too. I’m hoping his boldness will encourage the others to put themselves out there. Or at least, he can introduce them to all the friends he’s made.
Meanwhile, they’re getting to spend some quality time with each other as they adjust to our new abode. There are those moments of emotional breakdowns as they get sick and tired of each other; as they continue to settle into this house they didn’t really want to move to in the first place — not when it meant leaving all their friends behind.
But there are also wonderful moments as they bond through the hardship and find ways to entertain each other without a neighborhood of friends to rely on.
Eventually, we won’t even notice that this is our “new” house. Soon it will just be home. Until then, we’re taking this adjustment period one day at a time. And learning to live with a blaring refrigerator alarm that scares us all.
Rachel Higginson is a married mom to five kids. She is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has received a Utopia Award for Best Contemporary Romance and Penned Con Award for Best Novella Series. She lives in Omaha.