Friday, January 20, 2017

What it’s REALLY like moving your toddler 3500 miles away from home

When I first started writing for this little corner of the internet I call ‘If She Can Make It There’ I poured my heart out and wrote many gritty, grizzly and frankly dark posts that expressed how I had been feeling since moving from a small town in the Cambridgeshire countryside across the pond to New York. I posted none of them. 

Instead I focused on our outdoor adventures and exploration of the city, because several months in we were starting to find our feet and things were good. But a recent bout of viral fever hit the family, we didn’t get out much and I was taken back to this time last winter when as new expats with a three year old things weren't so good. 

This prompted me to finally take the leap and ‘keep it real’ by sharing what it was actually like to uproot the family and move 3,500 miles away to a new city. 

When B was two, we foolishly snaffed at anyone who dared enquire about ‘the terrible twos’.  Pffft, what were they talking about? No joke, B was perfectly angelic throughout his twos and through most of his threes. He was (and still is) a happy, bubbly boy, with bags of personality but along with that he was also obedient and easy going. An absolute dream child.  

Then we moved from England to America. 

The decision to uproot the little fella from the only home he had known was not a decision we took lightly. Many hours were spent thrashing out the pros and cons, family and friends were consulted for their opinion and the research involved was mind blowing. 

With so much opportunity career wise and the benefits for us as a family we kept circling back around, it was a no-brainer; we would move. Along with the practical planning and packing in the build up to the move, we spent the months and weeks on the build up preparing B, just as the so called experts advised. 

Despite our best efforts he understandably found the transition difficult and there was a seismic shift in his behavior. 

While he was still a happy, bubbly boy most of the time, he was no longer easy going. He struggled to follow direction and he would take the mother of all screaming tantrums at the drop of a hat if the smallest thing didn’t go his way. 

He didn’t care where he did it, or who saw or heard. In fact the more embarrassed I was at the setting, the more perfect a location for a meltdown. Queue the judging eyes from the other parents with their perfectly perfect offspring (please tell me you've all been there at some point!). 

I couldn't help but think, if he had been a little bit younger he would have been more oblivious to the move and if he had been a little older he would of been more understanding, how I wished I could understand what was going on inside that little three year old head. 

I was assured it is a sign of intelligence and as such a headstrong child he exudes future leadership qualities but that didn’t make parenting at the time any easier.  

Moving to a new area and wanting to meet people and make new friends, I was more keen than ever to be out and about. But B’s unpredictability really meant I was too embarrassed to go outside or arrange play dates out of fear he would have an outburst. 

Hiding out in the house didn’t help either, I dread to think what the neighbours have heard through the walls. B having a screaming fit as I’ve told him not to put his fingers in an electric socket!  
Without exaggeration it could take up-to an hour to leave the house. The shoes and coat on drill would go on and on. At only three and a half he was physically stronger than me, if he didn’t want the coat on – it wasn’t going on.  I’d end up screaming and shouting at him to get ready to go out and by the time I got outside I was on edge. I’d run every errand I needed to do in one venture outside so I didn’t need to go through it again. 

This wasn’t the parent I wanted to be. 

Some days I didn’t make it outside; I would sit in and cry.  

I know this is wrong. I know I avoided far too many social situations. I know I should have taken a firmer hand or done things differently. Believe me I was reading everything I could get my hands on and applying into into practice any techniques I could to try and help ease his situation and anxiety. It was helpless.  

Not only was my son struggling to adjust, without like minded mummy friends to help me analyse the situation I hit a real low point, probably the lowest in my adult life. I was in the most populated city on the planet, yet the days spent swimming in my own thoughts left me drowning in loneliness.  I wanted to go home so bad. 

I can’t explain it but one day something changed. The sun came out. 

The sun shone bright over New York and its inhabitants came out of wherever they had been hibernating over the harsh bitterly cold winter months.  

The sun shone a change in me, I no longer went outside with the intention of meeting other mums. I went out to enjoy spending time my precious boy. I literally stopped giving a dam about what others around us thought and focused on our own happiness. 

Slowly we both calmed down, getting ready no longer takes a ridiculous amount of time. We communicate and negotiate much better.  We enjoy each other's company again and can even make plans and playdates.   

Sure there are times when we go to the playground and we don't speak to anybody but other times we make new friends.  

Don’t get me wrong, some days are still hard, but we are getting there and the good definitely outweighs the bad. All things considered, would I still move 3500 miles away from home? Absolutely. 

1 comment :

  1. Glad the sun came out for you, lovely to read that you're getting there.


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