Emails suggest I make sure the paint on the outside of the house is clean and every chip of paint on the inside—even the ones noted on the move-in condition report that were already here are repaired and the backyard porch is returned to its ‘pristine’ condition. What?!?! Houses don’t make it into pristine condition after they’ve been well loved for 2.5 years. Even if you take super good care of them! Movers and cleaners and walk throughs and plane tickets and travel arrangements are all in the mix now needing time on the calendar and energy to plan. Already. Even though I’d like to pretend our move is further than 6 and a bit weeks away.
The calendar fills and fills with end of year BBQs and birthday parties and final concerts and performances and baseball and futsal and swimming and school fairs and holiday get togethers and all the this’s and that’s of end-of-school-year madness.
As an aside: though it has been an interesting trial I vote ‘no’ on January to December school years. In the future, I’m looking forward to the last month of school insanity and the run up to the holidays being separate things. It seems futile to pretend that one can do every event and remain anywhere close to sane, but somehow the calendar on the wall just keeps filling and filling.
The boys are eager to spend as much time with friends as possible before we leave. Friends come out of the woodwork asking for one last visit and time before our looming exit from the country.
Plus there are presents to buy for Christmas and turkeys to order for Thanksgiving and Bridger’s birthday to plan.
I know too that there a spiritual and emotional issues at play. We’re returning home to the US after essentially 7.5 years away. An end to a season of life we have loved. The realities of reverse-culture shock loom. Uncertainty and loneliness at leaving our friends here and moving to a season of making new friends in a once-familiar place. The reality of entering another season of unsettledness. Something we know from experience takes a minimum of 9 months to pass and actually in many ways lasts more like 18 months to 2 years.
Don’t get me wrong. I see the bounty and beauty that all of this muchness represents. The big, amazing life that all the busyness belies.
Except I find myself spending too much time on Facebook. Watching too many trailers on imdb. Old feelings I’d thought I’d finally vanquished creep in. A low-level anxiety. Uncertainty. Worry. A sort of frantic flitting around from thought to thought. The laundry backs up and meals are haphazard. I can’t quite get my bearings. I want to sleep. A lot. I gravitate towards something I chose in the deepest part of my being to reject—crisis mode. This is the chaos that sets in with a move, with the end of the year, with holidays, with busyness.
No. I thought a few nights ago. No this doesn’t work for me. I reject crisis mode. I tried to remember what to do instead.
So I sat on the floor with my 5 year old and played Go Fish. Which naturally turned into wrestling and laughing. That helped. Then afterwards I said yes to my 11 year old and sat in the Big Green Chair and read. Not Facebook or articles online. Books. Real, live books. Better. Much better. Dad was on a late-night work call with the Europe in the kitchen so the nearly 13 year old and I made quesadillas and sat on the floor in my room for a secret picnic and stayed up way past our bedtimes talking about friendship and moving and change. Yep. That’s the stuff.
Also ‘Spoto.’ It’s the Aussie version of slugbug and has transformed car rides into shrieking hilarity. What’s not to love about slugging each other and shouting every time we see a yellow car? We’ve been playing for about 2 weeks. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m winning. Middlest says it’s only because I sit at the front of the car. I tried to explain how much concentration driving takes, thank you very much. He doesn’t seem convinced. I don’t care. Spoto helps.
Today I felt myself drifting towards anxiety so I immediately bundled us off to Farmer’s Market. The happiest place on earth. As we left the bread stall where the man always remembers his name and gave him an extra muffin today, Littlest declared, “The world is FULL of kind people and THAT is one of them!” True, son. True. Then the cherry man gave him nearly an entire punnet of cherries. We were happy and full and we sat on the grass and ate purple carrots with the greens on but somehow he still started to look listless watching the jumping castle I’d said no to. I was considering picking up my phone. Instead we sat on the grass and played Row Row Row Your Boat with our bare feet pressed together. We followed on to Stinky Feet and then headstands and laughing.
Bex and Brad showed up and we talked and somehow I felt enough again. Present. With my bare feet in the grass and my bags of local grocery goodness. My happy child and my own unique Cori-ness to share with the world.
“No!” I say to the poison madness of busyness and chaos and anxiety and crisis mode. “Yes!” I say to delightfully simple antidote of play and laughter and bare feet and connection.
Phew. That feels so much better.