There are still unpacked boxes and boxes of items to give away and throw away and all the like, but I’m trying to pretend that we’re settled, for now. We’re only here for the summer, and then we will move again to a temporary house for three weeks at the end of August, then into a rental house for about six months, and then, next spring, into our permanent home. So I suppose I have an excuse for disjointed blog posts and unreturned email for the next year or so… In fact, I’m going to slow down the blogging for the summer in response to the transition we’ve got going on (keep reading for more details).
As I look back on the past few months, here are a few things I hope I’ve learned:
2. Moving is hard on everyone, even the cat. Even before we moved, our cat started vomiting frequently and William and Penny started waking up at an ungodly hour. The past few nights have been quiet, but for the first two weeks we were in our new home, Marilee woke up and screamed for at least two hours. She wasn’t crying. She was screaming. My rough translation is, “Where is my ROOM?” If Peter or I were in the room–not touching her, not talking to her, just being present–she would curl up in a fetal position and quiet down. She wouldn’t go to sleep, she’d just lie there peacefully until we tried to go away, at which point she would stand up again and scream. There were days that I felt exactly the same way.
3. We are sad to leave and excited to go. In addition to the loss of friends, colleagues, our church, Penny and William’s school, the Down syndrome Association of Central New Jersey and the doctors we love in the area, we are also sad to leave what someone called our “consequential strangers.” Mr. C., the crossing guard who gives treats at holidays and who our children looked forward to seeing every morning and afternoon… Beth at the post office, who knows our children by name… the woman who runs the dry cleaning store, who has Christian music playing in the background… the local storeowners who comment when we haven’t come by in a while… In some ways I think I will miss the people that we won’t keep in touch with most of all.
And yet, despite the hassle, and sleepless nights, of transition, despite the tears I shed in leaving, despite the fear that we wont’ find the doctors, friends, and church we hope for, we also feel grateful and excited about this next stage of life. We are moving to a gorgeous part of the world where we already feel quite welcomed. And we are confident that this is where God has called us and that this is the best decision for our whole family.
5. We have way too much stuff. In an interview for the New York Times, anthropologist Anthony P. Graesch explains that one impact of an “increasingly nucleated family” (which is to say, living far away from relatives) is more and more stuff.
The inflow of objects is relentless. The outflow is not. We don’t have rituals, mechanisms, for getting rid of stuff.
For some weeks now I have been engaged in dispersing the contents of this apartment, trying to persuade hundreds of inanimate objects to scatter and leave me alone. It is not a simple matter. I am impressed by the reluctance of one’s worldly goods to go out again into the world.
7. Organizing stuff helps me organize my thoughts. I think of myself as a pretty disciplined and organized person, and yet the onset of three children and moving and just the creep of life has left me with priorities out of whack. Spiritual life, exercise, thoughtful and purposeful time with my children, work time that doesn’t just involve throwing up a blog post but instead actually crafting something of substance… all of those things have taken a hit in the past year. And somehow the process of shredding old tax returns, throwing away junk, giving away unnecessary stuff, and sorting through the closets put me in the right mindset to try to sort through my life as well. I haven’t figured it all out, but I know that regular time with God, keeping our household orderly, spending purposeful time with my children, and getting some exercise are going to take up many hours of every week. Which means that, for now, writing is going to take up less time.
And so, for the remainder of the summer and probably into the fall, I am planning to limit my blog posts to two per week. You can expect something related to our family and something else–maybe a post about prenatal testing (I’m still working on an ebook that will come out in September), maybe a link to parents.com (still blogging about the election), maybe a link to her.meneutics (still writing for them once a month), maybe a guest post (two planned for next week in response to the Affordable Care Act) maybe just some thoughts on faith or family or disability.
And on those days when nothing is posted on this blog, well, think of my silence as an example of the ways I’m growing and learning and trying to live my own lessons, acknowledging my own limitations and discovering my own humanity. And unpacking another box.