The Mom Stop column: Change can be scary in the beginning
Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
Change is never easy, no matter how old we are. It is particularly difficult for those of us - ahem, including myself - who have a particular adversity to any sort of change. When I was a young child, my mother says, I would not drink out of anything except a blue cup. At Christmas, largely my entire life, we had our pre-ordained seats in my grandmother’s living room, and we rarely, if ever, strayed from that norm. In my entire life - not including the dorm or sorority house in college - I’ve lived in a total of three houses in 40 years.
The last 14 have been in one house.
When I was in sixth grade, my mom decided to move us from the only home we had ever known in order to be in a better school zone. It was the house that she originally bought with my father 15 years earlier, the same home where both my sister and I had come home from the hospital as babies, where we took our first steps. It was the house where my dad built a two-story playhouse for me, where I spent hours playing on the swing set in the backyard or climbing on the large mimosa tree. I haven’t stepped foot in that house since we left in 1993, and yet it holds a concrete place in my mind as home - the home where I came from.
Sure, the house we moved to became home, too, and is where my mom still lives. But for some reason the childhood home where I had my earliest memories is still the one I’m most attached to.
When we moved, it was one of the hardest things in my young, 12-year-old life. I was sure that my life as I knew it was over, that my mother was making a momentous mistake that we would all regret later.
But we didn’t. We made new neighborhood friends as our new neighborhood had lots of other children - something our first neighborhood did not - and even a neighborhood pool. In junior high, I relished in new freedom as I was able to walk home from school, as it was close by. I learned that while hard, change is not always bad.
I tried to remember that, this week, as I approached my three children and explained to them that we had signed a contract on another house. After 14 years in our home, the place I’ve lived longest in my entire life, in a neighborhood we love dearly - we are leaving. We desperately need more space.
My 5-year-old daughter rejoiced, jumping up and down on my bed where she had been watching TV. My son, 8, did an “air” pump sign with his arm and said “YES!” After having shared a bedroom with one of his sisters the last six years, he’s a little more than excited to get his own space and a large bed of his own.
But then there was my oldest daughter, age 11, who is probably the most like me. Tears welled up in her eyes and her face got flushed. As I started to walk toward her, to try to give her a hug, she ran out of the room and out into the front yard to be alone. It took my husband going to her and talking to her to calm down. He pointed out that we are staying in town, at the same school, so there won’t be that much change. But it’s still change enough for her, and she’s worried about losing her best neighborhood friend, who she has known her entire life.
Change is never easy, especially in the pre-teen years. I think only time will make it better.
The day after the big announcement, my husband woke our 11 year old up early that morning and took her to breakfast, a bit of a tradition for the two of them. But instead of going inside of Waffle House - because of the pandemic - they picked up breakfast to go and drove to the new house we are buying, sat out on the back deck and ate, just the two of them. I’m not sure what was said, exactly, but I do know it was good, for both of them. Because they both came back happy, and most remarkably, I could tell that my daughter is excited.
While change is bittersweet, it’s awfully exciting too.
Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at email@example.com.