Saturday, March 19, 2022

Away We Go

Ask and you shall receive.

In my last post, I wondered if there might be an Easter miracle on the way after the hellish month of health problems we’ve had in our household. Well, we just might get it. And, boy, is it a doozy.

But first, an addendum to my poor toddler’s illness ordeal. I’ll spare you (or will I?) the details of her epic recovery from norovirus, which morphed into a wet cough, two scary-high fevers, a steady stream of green snot, and several pounds of weight loss. All this warranted two ER visits along with a slew of traumatic interventions – nose swabs, a catheter, and earwax removal – to help determine what was wrong with her. (Viral cough and ear infection, apparently.) She and I spent almost three weeks quarantining in our home, a single Target trip and a few baby daycare pickups our only outings.

This experience has been incredibly frustrating as a parent. In addition to the sleepless nights and pain of watching my child being treated like a science experiment by medical professionals, it’s been disheartening to see her backslide on so many developmental levels. I was so close to weaning her off bottles, giving up formula, and starting potty training. Now she’s been thrust back into some regressive babyhood, with attachment issues at an all-time high, and no sign of leaving bottles or formula or diapers behind anytime soon.

So that’s the bad news. And in the midst of all this, some very good news arrived in the form of a new job opportunity for my husband. Which means: we are moving! And not just across town – we’re leaving the state…to move halfway across the country…to a warm-weather climate.

This is a huge deal for me, as someone who has (reluctantly) lived her whole life in Minnesota and has been jonesing to get out since age 16. (As the parent of teenagers, I find the urge to leave this insufferable tundra ramps up once one has to drive through blizzards on the regular.) My first marriage kept me here initially, and post-divorce, I was chained to this godforsaken state by a joint custody agreement. Now that my younger teen is on the cusp of turning 18, I am finally free to leave.

But I'm making it sound like saying yes to getting the hell out of dodge was easy. It was anything but.

Though I've moved 20-plus times in my life (mostly between divorce and remarriage), I've never moved out of state. And holy shit, is it expensive!

One must pay for the movers, the truck, the storage, the car shipping, the airfare, the new nanny service. Because we aren't going straight into a permanent home (I refuse to buy without getting a feel for a neighborhood first), we have an insanely-priced (but modestly outfitted) Airbnb to budget for. And that's all in addition to the expenses of prepping our current home to go on the market.

"We wouldn't spend this amount of money on anything," I often found myself saying after tabulating all the relocation costs. And then I realized the total was almost exactly what we spent on making our babies...which shut me right up. Dreams are expensive, apparently. And totally worth it?

One big factor that gave me pause was health insurance. In Minnesota, we have excellent coverage. Where we're going, we won't. Given how sick everyone has been over the past month, I'm scared of being in a situation where I have to deliberate about whether or not we can "afford" to take a child to the emergency room. (No parent should ever have to do that. Shame on this country.)

When it's all said and done, this move might be a lateral one. Meaning: our income will be the same. We'll probably end up in an older, too-small house in a safe-enough neighborhood. The one thing that will be better? The weather. Is that reason enough to uproot our lives? (Ask me in January and the answer will be an emphatic yes. But spring is underway in Minnesota and so is the seasonal amnesia.)

Coordinating the move was, initially, so overwhelming that I freaked out several times and sobbed and said I changed my mind…which made my husband cry. (He really wants to leave.) I considered sending him ahead and staying behind with the littles, then reconsidered because without another adult to help out, my mental health would plummet.

I recommitted to the move and began chucking things left and right. (Getting rid of winter gear was particularly satisfying.) Then it was time for our farewell tour. I silently said goodbye to all the things I do love about where we live: ECFE, music class, the duck pond, the zoo, my running routes. It's been bittersweet.

My older teen, who is transferring colleges so she can relocate with us, recently asked, "How are you feeling about the move?"

I started listing all the relocation-related tasks I had completed that day, becoming aware that I was talking about actions, not feelings. (My therapist would be so proud.) "I guess I feel at peace about it?" I said. (And yet, that didn't stop me from contacting a doctor to prescribe some anti-anxiety and sleeping medication to get me through the next six months.)

I want to believe that the timing of all this is predestined, taking place as it will during the liturgical Easter season. Though my husband has warned me it won’t be a magic bullet (who’s the buzzkill now?), I think it could be a kind of familial resurrection.

So. Away we go?

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