Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Moving On

I grew up as the daughter of a Naval officer. I have never, in my life, lived somewhere longer than 6 years. We would typically move every 2-4 years, finally settling once my father retired from the Navy when I was 12. I then went to college at 18 for 4 years in one location, and medical school for an additional 4 years in a different location. Mr. Whoo's childhood moves were similar. Since Mr. Whoo and I have been together, we haven't stayed in one place more than 4 years. To be quite honest, I really disliked moving so much. Starting over got more and more difficult each time we had to make a move. The leaving of friends, the packing, the unpacking (torture), the need to learn everything about a new area wore thinner and thinner with each new beginning. Once I finished residency, we agreed to make a concentrated effort to find a place to "put down roots." We thought we had found that in our current location, and we were so excited to settle in and become fully immersed in the community.

Then, slowly, it became obvious that my job was not as lifestyle friendly as it had promised. Instead of a 1 out of 3 call, I became a default solo practice Ob/Gyn physician (something that I never, ever wanted to be). In the last 3 years, not much has improved. I have managed to eke out 2 weekends off call every month, but it seems this is all the leeway with lifestyle that I am going to get. Our family life is severely affected by my call schedule, and I always feel like I have to have one foot ready to run out the door. It is time for a change, and, for us, that means moving....again.

Of course, all of the joy that comes with moving is expanded with small children, especially in the arena of finding reliable child care. Then I worry about putting them through a move and how it will affect them emotionally. For Bean, I am not so concerned, as he is small yet and likely won't remember the change. For CindyLou, this move is going to be hard. This is the only home that she knows. She loves her house, her play set, her room, her teachers, and her friends. I remember all too well the hurt of having to leave my friends and everything that I had known behind for the unfamiliar. Most of all, we want to have a stable place where our family can grow and thrive. As long as I am on call as much as I am, we will never be able to pursue extra curricular activities for the children, and I really can't bear the thought of not making it to baseball games and/or dance recitals.

Logically, I know that as long as we are together, we are home. A house and a town are just places, but a family is your true home. I just wanted to give my children the opportunity to graduate high school in the same place that they went to kindergarten. It is this little fantasy that I have entertained ever since I was a girl, having to move time after time. I am starting to worry that my childhood and schooling has triggered some kind of wanderlust, set to go off every 4 years or so! I never pegged medicine as a nomadic career, but I am taking careful steps to try to make this next move our last one for a very long time. How do you ease the transition of a move on kids that are old enough to understand?


  1. We basically live in an RV and when the call comes, off we go! j/k

    Jokes aside, it must have been difficult having to move around whenever the circumstance demands. If i may make an advertisement here, Pacific Northwest is a career and family friendly place to practice Ob/Gyn! We have had the privileged (or lack there of) to have to move 3 times over the past 10 years; it's been great being able to see different places. We stay in touch with extended family and friends alike via Church, emails, phone calls, and and we-just-happen-to-drive-by-your-house-today visits. Perhaps we are a little bit too naive to complain about it.

    In any case, best of wishes to you and to your family, especially the little one(s) at home!

  2. Perhaps a simplified version of what you have written here, emphasising that it is really because you want to be with them as much as you possibly can and it is very difficult where you are.

    Then, when you have decided where you are going, make it an adventure.

    This is all too simplified, and I very much sympathise with your quandary.

    Best of luck!

  3. I grew up in the same boat as you - father was a naval officer until my second year of residency. Moved overseas when I was 9 for a stint with the royal navy. Taught me good things - like tolerance for others and alove of travel, but the moves became more and more traumatic. I thought the move before my senior year of high school was the final straw - but watching my parents move away from me while I was in medical school was pretty awful, too.

    I have strived for something different for my kids - and balance that with a work situation that allowed me to be with my kids. We now live in my husband's hometown which I love. I started my own practice so we could stay here. It's been anything but easy, but it has also been absolutely worth the enormous effort to stay in one place that I love, give my children a stable homelife in the same community. I don't envy your future decisions, but I totally understand. Kids are resilient, and if their parents are happy, fulfilled and contented, they will be too. They model so much behavior after us.

    I still have a few gyspy tendencies from all that moving around. A trip -even for a weekend - usually cures my wanderlust.

  4. I totally agree that kids are so resilient and being together more as a family will only make things better.

    Playing it up as a big adventure for your family - a new place to discover - might be how I'd approach it too.

    Anyway, it's exciting news. A little bit stressful probably but it sounds like the right step.

  5. Moving is tough, but it sounds like the right choice for your family right now. Your daughter is a preschooler, right?
    It can be difficult at this stage because they are so routine/rules oriented and something as abstract as a move isn't always "real" for them until it happens. But there are things that you can do to help make it an easier transition for her. You can read story books that talk about moving with her and act it out with toys. Perhaps take pictures of her school/friends/ things she might miss and let her know she can send them pictures of her new place. When you know where you are moving you can talk about the new town (this will be our new house, this will be where you will go to school, etc.) Give her little bits of information at a time, present the information more than once over a period of time, and try to keep it positive.
    When you move, let her pack a small bag of her "important" things that stays with her. That way she'll have some familiar objects with her during the move and the first few nights when things are most chaotic. It is important that she understand that when you pack up items that they are not being thrown away, they are coming with you to the new place. Let her have a few choices in the new space (should your bed go here or here?). Reinforce that the whole family is moving, it will be an adventure. She may have some regression or be upset for a little while after the move. Try to establish a routine as best you can. She might need a little extra time with you or Mr. Whoo in the first few days. Giving her "jobs" to do to help can give her a chance to feel in control. Just take comfort in the fact that with little kids change is difficult in the short term, but they bounce back pretty quickly.

  6. Gotta do it. Not seeing you as much is worse for her than a move.

    She is also old enough to have a say in decorating her "new room", so maybe you could go shopping to find some new (cheap) things to decorate her new bedroom, so it would give her some control.

    When my mom was 7, her parents moved across town. She was very upset. Her parents (this is in the 1940s) had a 'goodbye party' so all her friends could say goodbye. It was a bit like a birthday party, she said, but it gave her some closure.

  7. Thanks to everyone for the great comments and advice. I think that playing it up as an adventure, and choosing a new bedroom set for CindyLou is a great idea, as is a "good bye" party. I will find out soon where we are going! Excited and anxious all at the same time!


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