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!
Oh no! I'm so sorry to hear that it has been so intense. I imagine the worst must be behind you and the soon you can all focus only on recovery and settling in! It sounds like you have landed in a lovely community which in time should make a world of difference. Until then, this too shall pass. Love from us!
I can perfectly imagine the move to be this challenging, moving house and life across the Atlantic with three kids under five - you are my heroes! The boys will recover soon enough, I sincerely believe daycare to make a big difference in creating calming routines for them. In the end it's reassuring that they feel so fully safe with their parents that they can express their crisis and work through their emotions as they come along. They are going to absolutely love their new life, with all their new friends and neighborhood kids, once they have ridden this wave. I agree with the above comment that the hardest parts are over now, and you won't need to do them ever again. I'm so glad (well, also sad for us...) that you are now part of a wonderful community and back among some magnificent landscapes - I'm confident that this is the place for you to be in right now. You've done an amazing job with this move - many hugs from us all!
If you can afford it, I recommend finding a good child psychologist to help your children process the move. We moved halfway across the US when my daughters were 5 and 7 and it was much harder on one of them than we anticipated. The effects lingered for a long, long time.
I hope things calm down for you soon.
I'm so sorry to hear how awful it's been so far. And yet, your neighborhood and your neighbors sound incredible. What a huge blessing that must be amidst the chaos. We'll be sending you good energy and hoping that things start to turn around soon.