At last, we have arrived at our new home in Oregon! It’s been a long journey, and even though we’ve been here for five days, it still surprises us to actually be here. Somehow it seemed like this moment would never come.
But let me be honest: it hasn’t been pretty, and it hasn’t been easy.
As you might have guessed by my prolonged absence from this space, we’ve been incredibly busy. More to the point, I’ve been deeply stressed and massively overwhelmed for almost every single moment of the last two months. While I wish that were an exaggeration, it’s not. I’d like to write a post titled “How NOT To Make an International Move (With Three Small Children)”, and maybe I will if we ever get through this phase and I’m not so broken by the experience that I can’t even write about it.
It’s not that things have gone wrong: things, mostly, are going according to plan. But maybe there were some faults in the plan. Looking back, we would have made almost every single decision differently, from choosing when we left Sweden to when we shipped our furniture and household goods, from how we bought our car to the childcare we chose, from which alarm clock we bought to which bedrooms everyone is in. It’s felt like every major decision we’ve made was wrong, or at best, deeply misguided.
While we undergo the travails of establishing a household after an international move (our household goods don’t arrive until October!), we worry most about the kids, who are prone to tantrums the likes of which we’ve never seen. Put simply, the boys are a mess. (Zoë seems to be weathering the whole thing with no complaints.) Given the frequency and severity of their meltdowns, we wonder if they’ll suffer lasting trauma. They start at their new preschool in September, and we hope that having a steady and predictable routine will help them. But that’s been the pattern of this move: we keep hoping that the next step will help, or things will get easier—and it doesn’t.
I seem to have developed a stress-induced stammer, if such a thing exists. Even when I have the word I want, sometimes it takes a while to get it out of my mouth, as though even my tongue is second-guessing what it’s about to say. I feel so overwhelmed and defeated by the sheer number of decisions I have to make that even going to the grocery store, which I used to love, is anxiety-inducing. Every single task feels both monumental (in its effort to accomplish) and minuscule (in its effect).
But there have been bright spots! The common theme among the shining, happy moments is socializing. Our moments with friends and family have made all the difference and been the one tiny lifeline to sanity. We are enormously lucky to have moved to a great neighborhood in Corvallis with generous, kind, wonderful neighbors. They had a bed and crib set up in the house when we arrived! They’ve lent us pots and pans and towels and toys, and they’ve come over with screwdrivers and wine and helped to assemble Ikea furniture, and their children have played with our children, and we feel immediately welcomed into a community that we’ve never known as a family. It’s almost enough to make me weep, if I had the energy for weeping.
While I’d like to tell you that this post marks a turnaround in our moving process, and that I’ll be able to write more regularly now, I don’t think that’s true. Everything is still hard and we have so much to do, and, most importantly, the boys are still mostly a mess. I’m hoping that things settle down in September, when they start at their new preschool, and we get back into a rhythm.
Until then, all words of sympathy, commiseration, and encouragement are welcome!