Moving. It’s not fun.
Packing everything you own into boxes, selling a house, and buying another one are arguably three of life’s greatest challenges. They are also three of those big checkmarks of so-called “adulthood.” Of course, as a destination, adulthood has extremely mixed reviews. Why was I in such a hurry to get here? Is it too late? Can I pack my adulthood into those same moving boxes and ship us all back into the blessed ignorance of childhood? It’s just a different ‘hood, right?
Moving really is a frightening time. Sure, it comes with some excitement, but it also comes with so much to do. Luckily, I’ve called in to take a few weeks off from my job as a stay-at-home dad.
Oh wait, what’s that you heard? “Dads don’t take sick days?” Whaddaya mean? How am I supposed to pack these moving boxes when my kids keep making them into forts? I can’t put these glasses in bubble wrap when it keeps being dragged away with giggles. On a normal day, I struggle to get everything done. I juggle the kids, their education, their entertainment, the diaper changes, the shopping, the cooking, the cleaning and everything else. With moving, there’s suddenly many more things up in the air.
Juggling moving, parenting duties
I finally asked my nearly 5-year-old son how he felt about moving. After all, he had no real say in this or our first family move, which happened when he was 2. While still not old enough to have super strong ties to an area, he has a preschool here that he loves and friends. He has grandparents living down the street who he sees weekly. He has a big room, a huge yard, a special playhouse and a host of memories. And now, on top of all that, he also has a stressed-out mom and dad, mountains of boxes appearing and so many questions.
My son told me he was both happy and sad. He was excited to be moving “into the ocean.” (Note: We are not, in fact, moving underwater, but we will be living a bit closer to the beaches.) However, he’s also sad to leave. He already knows he’ll miss his friends.
I also have a 2-year-old daughter. She knows. She barely talks, but she knows something’s different. She’s far clingier than normal, and she’s been acting a bit nervous. I think she suspects either something big is happening with the family or I’m going to make her try broccoli again. Both are terrifying.
The kids will be fine, though. My son’s about to start kindergarten so he’ll make tons of new friends. My daughter might not even remember the move; after all, her brother only has vague memories of his first house. My job during this transition is to never lose sight of what’s important even while juggling my many new tasks. Even if all these other crazy things seem on fire, I must keep them all in the air. I once watched a man juggle flaming batons. He didn’t stop to worry about being burned or what might happen if he dropped one. If he’d paused, he would get singed, so he just kept juggling.
Look back in adventure
Ultimately, my kids matter most. While I can’t pack my life into boxes and move back to the ‘hood of childhood, and houses will come and go throughout the years, my family is my home. I am already home. Everything else is just window dressing. I’ll focus on them, and keep the laughter going, even while juggling flaming balls of stress all around. In the end, my kids will move not just to a new house, but to a happier place and a happier childhood.
I look back at my own childhood moves and remember the boxes and the smell of Sharpies. There were long rides in the moving truck and the strangeness and struggle of making new friends. I remember taking everything I owned and packing it up.
One day, I hope my son remembers these moving boxes. I hope he remembers the packing and tears and the excitement of new adventures. And I hope he someday realizes that every move brings him just a teeny bit closer to that inescapable ‘hood we all move toward a bit at a time: adulthood. That is still a long, long way away for him. I’m in no rush for him to get there.
And at times, it feels like it’s still a way off for me, too. But I’m in no hurry either. After all, I hear the reviews of adulthood are mixed.
About the author
Chris Mannino lives with his wife and two children. As a full-time stay-at-home dad, he considers himself a lion tamer, cat herder, sanitation manager, personal chef, private teacher and more. Somehow, he also manages to squeeze in a writing career: crafting fantasy stories from picture books through adult. Visit him at www.ChristopherMannino.com.