Over the course of about three weeks, my husband and I made the decision to take on a new job and move our family across the United States. We knew it was an abrupt change and would be extremely different for our family, but it was also an exciting change!
I began by preparing our children with stories of what our new home would be like because I wanted them to feel excited about the changes ahead and the fun experiences to look forward to. I started by telling them stories of the great outdoor adventures awaiting them: enormous red rock mountains to hike, pillars of sandstone columns to climb, shallow creeks to swim in, and beautiful meadows full of wildflowers to pick.
My stories proved to be helpful, as our whole family excitedly packed up the last of our boxes and traveled from the tropics of Hawaii to the rocky mountains of Utah. My children were ready to thrive in our new destination.
In the first month that we arrived to our new town, our children were remarkably adaptable. They seemed to pick up on their happy, active lifestyles right where they had left off, only with new surroundings. They couldn’t wait to climb those mountains and grasp all the opportunities available to them.
I was really happy that first month as I watched my husband thrive at his new job and my children step into their new lives with ease. However, buried deep beneath the surface of my new, happy life, I felt miserable. At first I figured it was from the stress of moving, but I finally realized that while I had emotionally prepared my children for the move, I hadn’t prepared myself. When I looked around at my surroundings, my eyes wouldn’t allow me to see the new opportunities before me—all I could focus on was what wonderful things I had left behind.
One fateful day my seven-year-old son asked me to sign him up for a kung fu class like he had taken before we moved. Unfortunately all I could find was karate. When I told him he should sign up for the class anyways, he argued, “There’s no way I’m taking karate. It’s just not the same, mom. I know it’s martial arts, but it’s just not the same!”
I wouldn’t let him give up so easily. I made him come with me to watch a karate class to see if he wouldn’t change his mind. I wanted so badly for him to put kung fu behind him and be happy with what was available.
To my disappointment, I looked over at him during the karate class to see the saddest, most miserable face I’d ever seen. That’s when it hit me: I knew exactly what he was feeling because it was exactly how I’d been acting. I had wanted him so badly to see the new amazing possibilities for his life, yet he was still longing for what we left behind.
I quickly realized that I couldn’t be a strong support in my son’s life if I wasn’t even willing to set the right kind of example. It was time for me to start seeing my surroundings in a new light and to accept that I was moving onward, whether I was ready to or not.
On the car ride home I turned to my son and said, “Let’s play a game where we exchange all the things we miss for the new things here! Maybe sunflowers can be the new plumerias, and the creek by our house can be the new Pacific Ocean!” He smiled at my idea, so I continued, “The desert is the new jungle, the red-rock mountains are the new volcanoes, and peaches are the new papayas!”
He caught on quickly and added excitedly, “Yeah, and black widows are the new flying cockroaches, cowboys are the new surfers, and karate is the new kung fu!” We smiled the whole drive home as we thought of more clever replacements for the things we missed.
“So do you think you’ll try out the karate class?” I asked one last time.
“Yep!,” he decided, “I’ll give it a try.”
I decided I would give our new town a try, too. And guess what? I’m really learning to love it here—even those boring old peaches are becoming delicious to me.
QUESTION: Have you ever moved to a new place and then found it difficult to adjust? What did you do to make the move easier for you and your family?
CHALLENGE: Try to look for new things in your surroundings that could replace the old things that you loved. Challenge yourself to find the good in what you discover.
Image provided by Sally Jackson.
Graphics by Julie Finlayson.