Tuesday, October 22, 2013

: : Lessons : :

Our first two months in our new home proved to be more of an adjustment than I anticipated.  The parts that I expected to be difficult - downsizing, packing/unpacking, etc - ended up being the easiest.  I should have anticipated how deeply it would affect the kids.  I knew firsthand what it was like to move as a young child and I know how sensitive to change Mannchen is.  Regardless, I expected us to carry on as if nothing had happened once we were unpacked. 

Obviously we did not. 

Working outside the home was (still is) a major adjustment for the kids and myself.  It requires far more organization than ever before.  There is still the same number of tasks to accomplish around the home, but fewer hours at home each day to accomplish them.  I have had to work out how to get the grocery shopping and various errands completed without sacrificing the kids' free play time.  In the end, it has meant further simplification of our daily lives.  We had to adjust, re-adjust, and once-again-adjust the kids' napping and sleeping times.  In the end, naptime was dropped and bedtime is 7pm.  The kids are slowly emerging from an extremely needy phase - and during that same time hubby and I were experiencing the highest levels of stress thus far in our marriage. 

As soon as we start to make improvements in one regard, the shit hits the fan in another.  Right now every aspect of daily life with the little ones is exhausting and trying.  I have realized we don't hold the same consistent rhythm we used to, which I have committed to getting back to this week.  But at the same time, there's so much more than that.  There is at least one or two (if not more) scream-fests per day from Töchterchen.  They last for 10-15 minutes on average and really suck the life out of everyone around.  Mannchen has developed a potty mouth and quite the attitude now that he's four.  Between the two of them, I am really being "stretched" to work on my patience and ability to keep cool in the face of "adversity"...basically, I just want to quit, cry, and have a drink on a fairly consistent basis.  But, thankfully, I love my children and all their imperfections more than I ever imagined possible.  They are awesome kids, this is just the most difficult "phase" we have ever experienced and I feel more clueless than ever.  I have faith that it too shall pass.  (Please God, please, let it pass....)

While that aspect of our life is chaotic, most of the rest of it is settling down, slowly becoming normal again, and we are taking delight in the many lessons we are learning in this phase of life.  For the most part, this is a period of waiting - waiting for hubby to decide if he wants a master's degree or to go for his PhD, waiting for school to be over, waiting to see where we will go next, waiting to settle down for good, and so forth.  The silver lining, is so much is learned in the wait.  This is when we are stretched and molded.  This is when we develop strength of character and patience.  This is when we learn to find peace with the here and now, and start to live in the present. 

It seemed that we began to learn the lessons found in the wait a year ago when our plans to move first started to form.  However, now that we are in the midst of this transformation, I get the feeling that the lessons we learned last year were only the tip of the iceberg.  Looking back on it, it was easy to be content in an well built, well maintained 1400 sq ft single family home with a large backyard, on a steady, secure income and with ample time at home to enjoy my children. 

Yet, it wasn't more than two years ago that I felt anxious for more space, more income, and some days I couldn't wait for my kids to be older and off to school.  I did a lot of personal work to change my mindset and heart - to look at the positives of all I had, rather than all I didn't have.  Prior to our move, the preceding 12-18 months were some of the happiest and most content months of my life.  Now that we are here, I can see why it was so important that I find that I reach that level of peace with what I had then, considering how much less we have now by material levels...yet so much more of the things we find really matter in life.

So, what are these lessons life is teaching us?  In no particular order:

: : We don't need to be completely independent.  For the past five years, we have been hours from family, living an independent life, and sadly, taking pride in that.  Now we live five miles down the road from my parents, completely dependent on them for childcare while I work in the afternoons.  It was a tough pill to swallow at first.  I don't like to ask for help.  But through the process of relying on them, I have seen the relationship between my kids and my parents deepen.  We are learning what family really means - loving and supporting one another in times of need.

: : Living in a community is far more enjoyable than living segregated lives.  We hang out in the evenings with our neighbors.  All the dogs in the building play fetch together.  We share a gardening space and the food produced.  There has been talk of shared chickens - I may have been the only serious one, but I'm 200% serious.  Our upstairs neighbor is teaching us multitudes about insects and spiders - the kids find her absolutely fascinating, as do we.  Before we moved, we only spoke with two of our neighbors on a few occasions throughout the year.  It's a little sad to live close to people, but not know them at all.

: : A large home, lots of money, and more stuff is overrated.  We now live in a 700 sq ft apartment, on an income that is a fraction of the whopping teacher's salary we used to have, and we make no unessential purchases.  We feel freedom and relief in all of these things.  I enjoy the smaller space - it's quicker to clean and I love the people I live with, so I don't mind being close to them.

: : It is foolish to have pride, period.  The pride I felt from owning our own home, the pride I felt because my children had never given me attitude, the pride I had because we didn't have to rely on family for help, the pride I had because I felt like I really could do it all...it was all foolish.  All of those things have come to a screeching halt and as much as I hate it, I honestly believe it's because I needed to learn a difficult lesson.  I needed to be humbled. 

Lately, I'm not full of fun, inspired posts of things we've done at our house, just a random post here at there to fill you in on how things are going.  Right now we're still stuck on figuring life out a little more and hopefully it won't be much longer until we're back in the rhythm of it all.