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Moving Day: One Year Later | nextlifechapter.com

Tim in front of our rowhome, right before we left for the airport, our van in the foreground

Today is May 2–exactly one year ago today my husband and I woke up from a night spent sleeping on an air mattress in an otherwise empty bedroom. Adelaide too slept on an air mattress in her bedroom, mattresses borrowed from friends who lived around the corner. The girls and I had a flight to catch, but we first had to return the mattresses at our friend’s house and say good-bye. I knew it would be hard, the last good-bye in what seemed like an endless stream of them over the six weeks since I got the job and we decide to leave Philly and relocate to Tallahassee, Florida to be closer to Tim’s family.

Tim took us to the airport and finished cleaning up the house we had called home for nearly six years. The house we returned to when both of our daughters were born. The only home they had ever known. He cleaned, made one final trip to the recycling center/landfill, and somehow managed to fit the rest of our belongings in our minivan before locking the door and heading out on the Philly-to-Tally drive. Our POD left the day before with all our other earthly belongings and would meet us at our final destination once we determined where it was we’d be living.

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Here I am one year later sitting on the couch in our new apartment having just returned from a two-mile run (something I couldn’t have done without stopping a year ago), and it all feels surreal. It’s feeling more like this is our home, but it still seems so strange that it’s been an entire year. I don’t love it here. Not yet. (For some reason, on Instagram I can’t bring myself to use the popular hashtags #ihearttally or #iheartFL because it feels inauthentic.) But, the days are getting easier and we’re into a routine, for better or worse.

The good things:

  • My girls like their preschool/daycare. We really lucked out with a great place for Adelaide to spend this year preparing for Kindergarten. It was hard to leave the school she had been at since she was 12 weeks old, but we found a school in Tallahassee where she could continue to grow. Juniper started daycare in January and has adjusted nicely as well.
  • Daycare costs are less here and by living near family, Junie was able to spend weekdays with her grandparents from age four months until right before she turned one in January. It was a blessing to have this cost savings, and (I think) the bonding time between granddaughter and grandparents was mutually beneficial. Papa and Gram, it was fun, right?
  • I like my job. I took a pay cut in moving here and sure, I wish I was paid more. Plus, I don’t know if there’s much room for advancement (at least within my department), but I like my co-workers and what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis. That’s more than a lot of people can say.
  • I’ve made some good friends and am continuing to find “my people.” Making new friends as an adult is hard. I joined a knitting group and am slowly getting to know them and meet others through activities and friends of friends. It’s an ongoing process that will take time, but I’m proud of the strides I’ve made in “putting myself out there,” letting people get to know me, and deepening relationships with the few I already knew here. I’m thankful that I have an understanding husband who knows friendship is something I value and has supported me in making this time for myself.

In addition to friends, the things I thought I’d miss most about big city life were the cultural opportunities–the children’s museum, the zoo, art museums, theater. It’s definitely different here, but we’re making the most of what’s available. I am proud to say that just in the month of April Tim and I saw Jason Isbell play at an outdoor amphitheater, I got free tickets to a conversation with James Franco at FSU, we took Adelaide to the FSU Flying High Circus (no animals, just Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics), we went to the beach and to the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab (where we are members), and Tim and I saw a production of “Once” the musical at the civic center.

There are many other good things about moving here–the weather (in the winter at least), the gulf coast beaches, the pool at our apartment complex, family support, public schools–I know it was the best decision for our family. It’s the beginning of our second year in Tallahassee, and I’m wondering what this year will bring. What will I be thinking next year as I look back on how far we’ve come?

Moving Day: One Year Later | nextlifechapter.com

Selfie on the plane to Florida, May 2, 2015

Moving Day: One Year Later | nextlifechapter.com

Girls enjoying the pool at our apartment last Sunday, May 1, 2016

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I went back to work today. It was actually a smoother and more positive experience than I expected. Everyone kept telling me how glad they were to have me back. I have a long to-do list, but so far my supervisors have been conscious to not overwhelm me.

Monday I wrote the following post sitting in a coffee shop while Adelaide spent her first day at daycare. I didn’t have a chance to upload the photos of her first day of “school,” so I didn’t publish it. Here is the picture Tim took of us this morning along with Monday’s post and photos.

Check out Adelaide's baby legwarmers! Oh, and I got my hair cut.

 

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I go back to work on Thursday. It will be exactly 12 weeks from the date of Adelaide’s birth. Plus, my midwife suggested returning to work on a Wednesday or Thursday to “ease into it.” We only needed Adelaide to go to daycare on Thursday and Friday this week, but since we’re paying for three days a week, we sent her today for a practice run. We thought it would give Tim and I a chance to get some things done, and we could make it a short day to “ease into it.”

I have to admit that dropping her off was even harder than I expected. I didn’t like someone I just met cuddling my sleepy infant as I turned and walked away. (And I hate that I have to pay so much for something I don’t really want in the first place!) As Tim and I walked around the corner, I was grateful I had today to go home and cry. I wouldn’t have wanted to head to work feeling that way. However, as the hours have gone by, I wonder if it might have been easier being at work on Adelaide’s first day. Maybe I would have been more distracted?

As we left, the ladies assured us we could call anytime to check in throughout the day. “You can call 10 times if you want,” her teacher said. I didn’t feel it necessary to call, although it did cross my mind. I knew we’d be picking her up at 4:00, and I was confident I could make it that long. After spending a few hours at home with Tim, I left with laptop in hand and headed to a local coffee shop.

As I sit here in the window drinking my iced coffee, I am reminded of my old life. The grad school days of writing and reading in coffee shops in the middle of the day are behind me, but I remember them fondly.  I just received an email from our daycare. The owner/director wrote:

Hi Beth,
I don’t want to bother you on your first day back but thought we would check in and tell you how cute your daughter is and that she is happy and comfortable all the teachers want to hold her:) She has been wake and full of smiles, eating well and enjoying her first day of school. …

Her note brought tears to my eyes, and I fought the urge to sob here in the coffee shop. The next couple of weeks will be quite the adjustment, but I’m sure it will be much harder on me than on her.

Okay, time to go pick her up!

First day of "school." Apprehensive?

Nah, she's all smiles.

Edit: When I picked her up, she was awake and content strapped into a bouncy chair. They said she didn’t cry all day. She’s the youngest baby at the daycare right now, so she was fawned over. Seeing her there made me feel a lot better about taking her today. I’m glad we got our practice run.

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This is the end to the last full week of my maternity leave, and I’m pretty sad about it. Most days I feel okay. I know that babies go to daycare and they are well adjusted, happy children. I like my job for the most part so returning to work in itself isn’t the problem. I feel needed at work and feel as if they missed me. I think I can be useful there.

It’s just the idea of not seeing Adelaide all day that breaks my heart. I’ve only been away from her for a max of about four or five hours at this point. I can’t imagine only seeing her a few hours a day and living for the weekends. It makes me sad that someone else will get to play with my baby in the afternoon, see her smile and witness her milestones.

Adelaide will start off going to daycare only three days a week. She will be home with Tim the other two days. In some ways, this makes me feel better. Adelaide won’t be spending her entire week with strangers, she’ll at least spend some time home with Daddy (and the daycare folks won’t be strangers for long). Still, I can’t say I haven’t shed a tear over the fact that I’d rather be the one to stay home with her two days a week. I wish the roles could be reversed. I wish I had the flexible part-time job and Tim had the salaried position with the benefits of healthcare. This just isn’t in the cards for our family at this time, so we’ll both do what we have to do to best support our family.

Last week at one of my mommy support groups, this topic of going back to work came up in discussion, and one of the other moms started crying. She’s a lawyer and will return to a job with long hours. Even though her maternity leave still has several more weeks, she was already feeling guilty. The facilitator wanted to stop all other discussions and pushed the topic further. She asked whether the mom had someone she could talk to about her feelings and apprehension. She didn’t. Most of her friends and colleagues didn’t have kids. One friend stayed home with her daughter for two years and couldn’t really relate. “Do you want to hear the other side?” the facilitator asked, “ya know, just for kicks?”

She went on to explain an experience that was clearly her own. “Well, you could have stayed home with your kids for eight years. One of your kids may need private school. They may want hockey lessons, and you have no money.” She told us how guilty she felt for staying home with her kids and not having the “strength” to suck it up and go back to work.

Clearly, as moms we are too hard on ourselves – no matter what side of the fence. Fortunately, I do have a support network and friends who are positive examples of working moms. Despite how green the grass seems, I’m not sure I would feel fulfilled without returning to work at least part time. I never expected going back to work to be easy, so I’m allowing myself to mourn my maternity leave. Like so many other aspects of motherhood, this will be an adjustment. Being kind to myself, balancing work and home to the best of my ability, and being supportive of my husband are all I can ask of myself and that’s the best for Adelaide, too.

 

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