September 30, 2014

Moving On and Making Do - Take Two

Back in 1989, I made the biggest move of my life: My girls and I drove from Western Pennsylvania all the way to San Diego, California.

I left my mom, my friends, and the only area that I called home.

Prior to that July day, I had only driven across the state of Pennsylvania - all of five hours.

But on our trek of over 2,000 miles, I drove many hours, day after day until we reached our destination.

Each evening during our travels, we'd stay in a crappy (cheap) motel and the girls would expend some energy in the swimming pool while I sat poolside and read a book that helped me get my mind around the changes that were taking place in our lives. The book was Watersheds: Mastering Life's Unpredictable Crises

I have no idea what it was about the book that I found so comforting, other than the move surely was a watershed moment for us.

We moved into an empty apartment and waited two weeks for our furniture to arrive in a moving van. I started a new job (only my second full-time job in my 32 years on the planet). I was ill-prepared, and had lots to learn.

The girls and I explored the area and settled into our new neighborhood - and experienced West coast culture shock.

No comfort zone there. No safety net.

But we did it. And we did it again...and again. The kids and I moved a lot after that first trip. We've lived in the following states:

South Carolina
Tennessee
Maryland
Virginia
Pennsylvania
Kentucky
New York 
Missouri 

Now 25 years later, I am again moving on. And I am leaving The Boy and The Mister and the stepdaughters and grandchildren. Instead of being 2,000 miles away, it will take only a 2.5 hour drive to get me home. 

I will live on my own for the very first time in my entire life. I married a month after high school graduation - and have spent all of my adult life as a mother.

I thought of Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love - but this will not be that kind of adventure. I may eat Italian food, but there'll be no trip to Bali for me. I'll be living in Jefferson City, Missouri and working at a new job. I'll also be figuring out what to do with my free time. The initial work contract is for four months - if I am doing well, my contract could be extended.

I can already imagine the quiet in my new apartment (an apartment that I haven't located or rented yet. My first week will be in a motel). I will be responsible only for myself - whatever will I do with all the free time I imagine I'll have?

The Boy will have to maneuver on his own, too. I have been his constant advocate and smoother over of rough spots - he'll have to figure things out on his own. The Mister will be here to help, but he's more willing than I am to let The Boy spread his wings and see if he can fly.

The spoiling and coddling will cease. The Boy will have to step up and do what's right (without my nagging and harassment). He and The Mister will have to get along without my unending intervention as mediator.

I'm probably blowing this all out proportion. Perhaps they'll do fine. And I will be coming home on weekends (while the weather is nice). Maybe they'll become fast friends and I'll be needed less. Maybe they'll operate as a fine-tuned cleaning team and I'll come home on weekends to domestic bliss.

I could become gloriously obsolete, and be able to do things that make me happy without having to be a hands-on parent (as I've had at least one - and up to three children in my care for the past 38 years).

I could get a jump start on this whole empty nest thing.

Like Elizabeth Gilbert, I plan on writing about my oh-so-average adventures. Who knows? Maybe it'll end up being a book and I'll become rich and famous...but I'd be just as pleased if, during this relocation, I am able to get a good night's sleep.

What do you think I should do in my free time? Is there a book you can recommend that I can read in this phase of life? What would YOU do if you were in my place?