Today our kids started at a new school. It’s a long way – 2000 km – from their last school, as we are trying to settle in to our new Nova Scotia lives (despite the fact that we are still, essentially, homeless). As I sit and write from a seaside dock, looking out over the still waters of the inlet by the cottage we have rented for the month, I am breathing in the fresh sea air, grateful for the calming effect of the beauty around me.
I’d like to pretend that this is vacation. After all, I don’t have a ‘job’ to go to (yet), and I have not yet established a new routine. The truth is that there is still too much uncertainty for it to be relaxing. Far from it, actually. I am trying my best to appreciate these little moments, but the truth is that I like to plan. I like routine. I like planning. And it’s been so many months of uncertainty and change that it can get in the way of fully enjoying these little moments.
I am not adverse to change. As a matter of fact, I embrace it. This time, however, we’ve taken on our fair share. We have moved across the country – from Ontario to Nova Scotia – to be closer to family. We still don’t have a home (although we’ve had an offer in on one since July 2nd). And because of that, I still don’t know when I will be able to open my new chiropractic practice. I don’t know when I will feel settled. And in reality, once we are in our house (a building that I will also be practicing out of), we will be busy in a way that may possibly eclipse the hectic pace of this past year. Maybe right now is a breather – like the calm before the storm. Or more accurately, the calm between storms, as these past few months have been absurdly crazy.
Four months ago, our world turned upside down when Dean’s dad passed away from a sudden heart attack. Three months ago, I found the right chiropractor to buy my Ontario practice, setting in motion the many steps to relocating our entire lives. Two months ago, I announced to my practice and friends that we would be leaving Ontario, while simultaneously putting an offer in on a house/practice in Nova Scotia and preparing to list our Ontario home. One month ago, we said our final Ontario goodbyes, put our kids on a one-way flight to Halifax, and then drove East with all of our belongings. These past few weeks have been full of family time, beaches, and summer fun east-coast style. But they have also been full of stress, with daily interactions with lawyers, accountants, realtors and banks.
When I look back on these past four months, I can’t count the number of times I have been literally brought to my knees with stress, so close to the breaking point that I wonder if and how I can handle any more. Amidst comments from people of ‘how brave we are to start over’, ‘how inspiring that we have followed our dreams to move home’, right to the frank admission of many that ‘they couldn’t handle the insecurity and uncertainty of what we’ve taken on’, I’ve questioned how much I can handle, but never whether this was the right choice for our family.
I will admit that sometimes I feel I’m taking it all in stride, while other times, I wonder. Ethan has candidly pointed out to me that he’s been yelled at more this past month than ever before (which is likely true, unfortunately). Audra has sometimes regressed into acting like a kindergarten-aged kid, while other times being a life-saving and mature helper with her little cousins. The have both taken turns being absolutely golden – and driving us crazy with their bickering, whining and bugging.
With all of this, I am once again grateful for our decision to be real with our kids. I can’t fathom trying to always put on a brave face for them, when I’ve grieved deeply for all of the goodbyes we’ve had to say in recent months, from the stress we’ve been under, and sometimes just from sheer exhaustion. But they’ve also been free with their hugs, loving notes and artwork, and moments of mature understanding. They’ve handled these huge changes with such strength and courage that my heart swells with pride. They admit that they are uncertain and nervous – but more excited than scared. We’ve had great talks, lots of quality family time together, and the beauty of Nova Scotia to ground us. In this sense, I can draw strength from knowing that within our little family unit – everything that matters is good. (And eventually, the home, routine, and settling-in will come.)
Our decision to aim to be consciously present to the moments in front of us has allowed us to still make the most of our month of East Coast summer, despite the underlying uncertainty and strain. Without this awareness, I think we’d lose sight of all of the wonderful things that are happening around us, and the little moments of joy would be lost altogether.
We’ve been to numerous ocean beaches, lakes and pools; Ethan has even tried surfing already; we took a ferry ride yesterday only to be awed by the joyful group of dolphins jumping alongside the boat; we’ve explored the beautiful South Shore with its marinas, hikes, caves, wharves and beauty, and enjoyed many visits with family and friends. We have spent more time with our 5 nieces and nephew than ever possible before, had sleep overs, campfires, and impromptu family dinners. We’ve fallen right back into place with some of our oldest friendships, and have plans for many more fun times together.
It’s been wonderful – albeit tough, emotional, and daunting.
When I think of the brave faces on our kids this morning as they walked into a sea of unknown faces at their new school – and remember their nerves and excitement of last night and this morning – I am not worried for them at all. As a matter of fact, I am greatly looking forward to hearing about their day when we pick them up in a few hours. And I fully expect that the good will outweigh the bad.
So, taking a page from their book – I, too will admit that I am scared and uncertain – but also excited. While the transition to moving into our home and opening my new practice is one that I am anticipating will take months rather than days – I trust wholeheartedly that this move was the right one for all of us. I don’t expect it to be easy (it hasn’t been!). But I do expect it to be the best choice possible for our family – and that make the hard times worth the stress and strain.
Daunting but exciting.
As for what’s next? All good things. (I hope!!)