Today I had an epiphany. I am moving. Now before you all join in a chorus of “Duh!,” let me explain. As you know, I’ve been carefully planning this move for months. Over the last several weeks, I have been completely absorbed in the details required to get our family from Beijing to Shanghai. This has become almost a full-time job, characterized by ridiculously long to-do lists, endless sorting, purging, and packing, a plethora of errands, and myriad other small, but vital tasks.
In my quest to manage the logistics, keep the children happy, juggle an increasingly full calendar of events, and encourage my husband to focus less on our summer plans and more on our leaving Beijing needs, I somehow forgot to think about myself. I’m not a selfless person by nature, so this is a surprising realization. In fact, the older I get, the more often I tend to take time for real introspection.
I was raised by a mother who gave and gives of herself unceasingly. And, while I and my siblings and our neighbors and friends benefited from this, sometimes she suffered. So, I have learned from her to be generous and give what I can and even sometimes to give a little bit more. But, from my mother I have also learned the importance of keeping oneself healthy and emotionally balanced and with enough left in the tank to get through the inevitable rough patches or just the demands of everyday life.
Consequently, I was surprised this week to suddenly find myself feeling, well, sad. I’m moving, I thought. I’m moving.
I’m leaving behind my home and friends and routine. I’m leaving the identity that I have forged, sometimes deliberately, sometimes inadvertently, in this corner of the world.
I’m abandoning the familiar in favor of the unknown. All the things that have become easy and normal will soon be hard and new, again.
I’ll have to make new friends and vet the children’s friends, again.
I’ll have to search for places to buy vegetables and shoes and stickers and tennis balls, again. I’ll have to find a new piano teacher, swim instructor, soccer coach, fabric store, flower market, pizza place, park, and favorite family restaurant, again.
I’ll have to be the family cheerleader, as usual, again. I started to feel overwhelmed.
I’m a pragmatist, some might even say a cynic. I focus on controlling what I can, and dealing with the rest as realistically as possible. I don’t believe in pretending that things aren’t happening, but I also don’t believe in wallowing when wallowing accomplishes nothing.
I’m capable and strong and resourceful and resilient. I’m smart and tenacious. I’m funny and good in a crisis. I’m not good at asking for help or sharing my emotions. I’m better at assessing a situation and responding to it.
I’m not especially good at anything, but I am really good at getting the job done.
This is how I have approached this move. I have focused on what needs doing and I have done it. I’ve had so many offers of help from friends and I have said, consistently, thanks for the offer, but we’re in good shape.
And, truthfully, in terms of the move, we are in good shape. At this point, I’m not panicking, I’m not worried, I can see the end and I know we’ll be ready.
But, will I be ready? Will I have enough time between now and getting on the plane and leaving Beijing for the last time, to get ready?
I didn’t build in time for that in my careful planning. I didn’t think about how I would feel. I didn’t worry about my emotions or my needs. I’m the architect of our life, I’m the foreman, I’m the conductor. I’m the mom. I’m supposed to be ready, always. I’m supposed to smile and encourage and keep everyone moving in the right direction. That’s what I do. I like doing it and I’m good at it.
This time, however, I’m feeling a little less enthusiastic and a little more nostalgic. So, while we’re in good shape and I don’t need any help with the move, I do need some help. I need to be reminded to take a minute to focus on the joy that being here has brought me and remember that I have done this before, successfully.
I need to be told that friends and routine are not bound by geography. That our life, my life, will become familiar again. I need to go to lunch and get pedicures and spend time with my friends. I need help remembering that it is okay to be sad, healthy even, and that I’m not the only one feeling this way. I need to say, “I’ll miss you,” and hear that I’ll be missed, because I know saying and hearing that will make it easier to go.
You can find more of Linsey’s writing on her blog, Rambles and Ruminations.
Photo: Courtesy of Linsey Crisler