It’s been a harrowing two weeks. Well, actually longer – if I count the weeks preceding them where I waited for a response to our desperate need to relocate. We have been in “discussions” with my ex about relocating for months. He has had some financial worries, as have we, so it seemed a good time to address them all. Unfortunately, we were unable to come to an agreement until very recently when, once again through attorneys, we were able to map out how this would all work and benefit everyone involved.
It began as a casual 2 hour conversation that went absolutely nowhere, and progressed to angry, accusatory text messages, to my official notice of relocation, to his 11th hour “no,” to my – what I felt was a most reasonable alternative – proposal, to finally a phone call on a particularly stressful day telling me he had agreed to the relocation. He had stipulations. All of which were reasonable, mostly. Some were open to negotiation, and so they were thus negotiated. We have an agreement.
Meanwhile, Todd and I have been cleaning up the aftermath of his last renter, eradicating the stench of 10 dogs in the backroom of the basement, and repainting rooms in preparation for… something. For weeks the stress mounted as we contemplated living apart once again, and me moving into my parents’ home again and working out some new schedule with the kids, and preparing the house to be listed again in hopes of selling.
For the last two weeks, we have known we had an agreement, and yet no documents were produced to support it. No one has any explanation for these “lost” documents, but they have arrived and we are expecting to sign soon. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, my ex and I drove our two down in separate cars to enroll in their new schools.
It’s been a harrowing couple of weeks, because of all the last minute paperwork and phone calls and – on top of it all – remembering all the details of our lives, including important diabetes-related details, so I don’t forget a thing. Right now, if it aint written down – it aint getting done, let alone remembered.
Stepping into new schools, as a mother, feels so weird. No one knows us, we don’t know them, the schools look so different from where we came from (our current schools are fairly new construction), and we have to not only adapt but also make sure – in my daughter’s case – that her diabetes management is precise and exactly the way I want it. I’m so accustomed to going into the main office, and they know who I am and exactly why I’m there. Nearly every face at parent pickup was familiar – several of them were actually friends.
I feel my kids’ anxiety about starting a new school. I’m worried about them adjusting, making friends, and especially Owen – because I know how tough middle school can be. I start imagining his first day, navigating new hallways, and ducking his head as he walks because he feels uncomfortable in his new surroundings, and that moment when he enters the cafeteria at lunch and has no idea where to sit. And I feel the tears burning my eyes. He is my baby, even though he doesn’t want to be anymore. I feel his feelings acutely. And I so want him to be successful and happy.
My daughter got a short tour on Wednesday, and only because she was whispering loudly about wanting to meet her new teacher today, but was suddenly timid standing outside her new classroom door with a table full of boys staring at her. She later told me she didn’t want to go there, simply because they will all stare at her. I explained that we were a novelty to them that day – new faces and a distraction from the lessons.
Owen was already looking solemn as he stepped out of dad’s car at the middle school, but conducted himself with poise and maturity in the guidance office while paperwork was filled out. But at one point, when I looked across the table at him, he was wiping tears from his eyes and staring at the ceiling. And that’s all it took. I felt the bile rising in my throat as all the fears I have tried to repress came rushing forward in my mind, and my eyes felt wet. When he met my eyes, he nodded at me, in that unspoken bond we have. Fortunately this emotional moment was interrupted by the guidance secretary – who was very well organized and kind – and we were back to business.
There’s so much to get accustomed to myself – although I can bury myself inside the house most days and get it organized, and get back to my schoolwork. I’ve spent enough time in the house since 2011 that I know my way around our town, but anything beyond it is still a bit foreign to me. I know how to get to Todd’s campus. But shopping malls, and doctors and dentists, even hospitals… my lord, I don’t even know where the nearest Target is!! I have yet to learn. Unless I drive 5 minutes north into Pennsylvania, where I know my way.
So moving day is set for Saturday. Todd has moved quite a few things to the house already, but there is still a mountain of things to pack and I just can’t wrap my brain around how it will all get done in the next 3 days. We need more boxes. Don’t have enough people to help us move, and now my dad is sick! We were without the convenience of hiring a moving company strictly based on finances and lack of time to plan.
I picked Ava up from school today –her last day – so I could collect the nurse’s diabetes supplies and so Ava could have extra time to say goodbye to last year’s teacher, Mrs. K, whom she adored. I walked into the building with a deep breath, knowing I would likely never walk in it again. I saw familiar faces, hugged a friend and quickly walked away to avert any more emotions. Another friend told me she was in the classroom when the class said goodbye to Ava, and how a little girl burst into tears. I knew immediately who she was, a little girl who was new to school last year and took an immediate love for Ava.
Ava and I walked into the nurse’s office, where Mrs. J hugged me and I burst into tears. I hate saying goodbye! And I immediately felt guilty, because I’m supposed to be the strong one here and not let either of the kids see me sad to go. Or at least not bawling like a soap actress. I’ve been playing the role of happy-go-lucky-can’t-wait-for-this-new-and-wonderful adventure and at this point I’m not going to win the Emmy.
Then we saw Mrs. K coming in from the busses, and she hugged Ava over and over, cupped her chin and told her how sweet she was, hugged me and made me promise to have Ava email her. In the 8 years that I have been associated with our elementary school, I never encountered one teacher I didn’t like – they were all wonderful in their own way, but Mrs. K last year became – to me – the best. She was not just teacher, but friend. And I so appreciated her for all she did. She even gave Ava a little pencil bag with some supplies in it, for going away.
And so we walked out of Oley Valley Elementary for the last time, Ava skipping down the sidewalk and me with a heavy heart, making one last ditch effort not to cry before all the busses pulled out. I almost made it.