My CV boasts that I am flexible and adaptable. But in reality I hate change; it makes me cry! Yet for some insane reason I seem to invite it into my life on a fairly regular basis. It’s like the boy I had a crush on at school, the one who kept breaking my heart but whom I still continued to stalk. Turns out I have a very bad memory.
Right now I’m in the eye of a change storm, being swept up in a whirlwind of goodbyes, packing and admin. Braced to be spat out in a different location, feeling dizzy and disorientated. Next week we move back to leafy Surrey after a second stint here in Geneva. We’ve done it before so what’s the big deal? Well now we have three kids in tow, two at school-age. Then we’ve also managed to accumulate enough stuff to fill a four storey house with a library, but are moving back to our cosy cottage. And the hardest part, we’ve collected a decade’s worth of wonderful friends we now have to leave behind.
It doesn’t help that I’m a deeply sentimental person. I’ve spent the past few weeks boo-hooing on everything and everyone, including a poor, unassuming year 6 student who gave me a leaving present. I don’t think she was anticipating the librarian would break down on her shoulder! I’ve even wondered if it would be weird to bear hug the boys’ pediatrician and found myself stroking the giant fish tank in her waiting room goodbye.
To soften the blow I’ve been squeezing in lots of ‘ten’ moments as well, trying to imprint them on my mind – lake swims, mountain vistas, rooftop cocktails. I want to lock in that feeling of an ice cold evening dip in Lake Geneva, swimming alone with my thoughts. For me that’s one of nature’s best gifts.
I know we’ll be just fine when we’re back in Blighty, in spite of the depressing politics and commuter crowds. It’s the transition, the limbo period, that I find tricky. Now the kids are feeling it too, even though I’m trying the conceal my anxieties from them. But small people are not silly, they sense it. Even the littlest pickle is playing up. But all I can do is reassure them, talk to them openly about all we’ll miss and all we’ll gain, and power on through until the plane leaves the tarmac in six sleeps.
Despite the nauseating concoction of emotions that comes with a life shift, I do think it helps to shake things up once in a while. Stability is important for kids, but so is instilling a sense of adventure and opening their eyes to new opportunities. It can be therapeutic for us grown ups too. Whether it’s a change in location, career or relationship, it forces us to reassess our values and ambitions. It can declutter our minds and help us define what is important to us.
For example, I’ll go back next week knowing I want to follow a passion. That I want to spend precious time with the boys and see more of my family. The ‘ten’ moments I’ve experienced here have taken my breath away, but I’m now looking forward to the simple pleasures of catch-ups with old friends and trips to the park followed by lazy pub lunches. They’ll be my new tens.
I’m not sure how many more changes we can take as family. It’s been pretty draining this time around (the French bureaucracy has sent us over the edge), but knowing us in about three years I’ll be penning a similar post. That’s the usual cycle. But for now it’s with a full heart and glorious memories that I’m turning the page to read our next chapter.
Change and I definitely have a love-hate relationship. It always throws me slightly off balance and sends my emotions spiraling, but this time I’m embracing it. I’m taking the plunge and joining the dance.