Moving away from a home and life you and your family are happy with is hard. Layer on having to do it durning a global pandemic? Well, that could feel near impossible. But, that is exactly what we did this past Spring. When my husband got a great job offer, he had to split his time between two states—spending the week in Washington and weekends in California. So I was solo parenting and working full time. As time went on, I was torn about needing to uproot our family so we can all be together all the time.
My son wanted to move the moment he saw his dad head to the airport; my daughter wanted to stay in Los Angeles. We felt it best not to uproot the kids until after the school year. At the time, it felt like the hardest year I’ve ever gone through — the mornings were early, days of the week were long and nights even longer missing my partner and best friend. Weekends, when he would fly home, were busy with barely any down time— running kids to sports in different cities all day. But we were determined to do whatever it took to support each other’s long-range professional goals. And this was my time to support him.
We kept on as best we could. As the school year end date neared, the move wasn’t top of mind. We were focused on having the most fun we could before we left. Then, COVID-19 hit.
The cancellations started. No 8th grade graduation ceremony, no special speech on stage and no last-ever dance recital. Then the hockey and lacrosse tournaments, the Jr. PGA matches…all erased from the calendar. The entire reason we decided to have our family living in two states for the past 16 months was to finish out these moments was now for nothing.
By the sixth week of staying home, the decision was made as a family that we would push the move up earlier and drive to Seattle. As the country was in a state of shut down, the list of things we were going to have to leave behind started to get longer and longer—clothes at the cleaners, one child in the middle of Invisalign treatment with pre-paid trays left at the orthodontist, kids medical records locked up, our belongings in the men and women’s locker room at the gym and on and on; we knew we just needed to leave it behind.
PACKING UP OUR LIVES
The reality of how hard it would be to move during a pandemic became apparent very fast. Where do you go when you need moving boxes and everything is closed? What is safe now? How do we know if the movers we chose have been taking proper precautions? Tip: use plastic tubs and ziploc vacuum bags for all clothing and bedding.
The hardest part of the packing was I had to do it all, relatively, by myself —while still homeschooling, working, cooking, cleaning, and prioritizing time with the family. There were no friends to come help share the task. When we found a company available to take our load up the coast, they told us we had to get ready in one week. It put everything into high speed — there was no time for feelings to set in.
The hardest part of moving your family during this time was the lack of physical hugs with all the people we were leaving. The thought that a truck would come, load up and we would leave the area we had been raising our family in for well over a decade without a proper goodbye was more than heart wrenching. The kids’ friends did drive-bys, our close friends held a video montage on an outdoor screen , but we had to leave without seeing so many that made such an impact in our lives—teachers, the coaches, the teammates, and of course friends.
As the truck loaded — not easy to constantly be darting out of the way to never be in the same room as the movers—everyone’s masks got hot and we basically forbid our kids to come out of their bedrooms while movers were in the house. We packed our cars with valuables we were advised not to put on the truck, our survival kits — all the essentials to stay safe like the gloves, masks, hand sanitizers, wipes, food — and we were off.
As the truck pulled away and the last goodbyes to neighbors, the tears started. I was exhausted, but as a mom, I was never more scared in my life for all the unknown ahead with the only goal protecting my family during these uncertain times. Most importantly how was I going to keep everyone safe and unexposed to anything during this trip North for what was supposed to be a 2 ½ flight and an easy shipment of cars to now driving 18 hours.
We pulled out of town after getting gas (which we hadn’t done yet during the entire stay at home orders), changed of gloves, re-sanitized, wiping credit cards and eventually started the journey.
FINDING A HOUSE
Trying to find a house during a pandemic turned into yet another feat. The Facetime walk throughs, video links trying to guess home layouts and also doing video walkthroughs of our current home to potential renters. It was all a challenge.
When we got to Seattle, the house we were supposed to move into was uninhabitable. The promised updates and contractor work were not completed in time. We were devastated. Luckily, we still had my husband’s small apartment we could stay in. But that brought up another issue—where would we put all our things (we had movers on the way!). By some miracle, we were able to find a place (which is much easier to do when you are actually in the city).
But if you are looking to move to a new place, be mindful of pre-recorded videos. Ask questions and do your research. We were so prepared, did our homework and it still didn’t turn out as expected.
REALITY SETTING IN
We drove through Portland, entered Washington and about 100 miles out from the final destination and rain drops started to hit the window….in that moment both my daughter and I started crying. It finally hit us. We just left our whole lives. Did we make the right decision?
I realized my husband’s car ahead seemed to easily navigate the way to his apartment a lot easier (as he had been living here for a year). I kept wondering if I would ever feel that way driving here too. Then, the fears no longer mattered because we were here, we arrived, we made it.
Our car was quiet, you could hear the dogs still snoring as the engine stopped, we got out slowly as the boys raced out of their car and were filled with excitement – my husband had his family now in his city where he loved his job and the people he works with and my son was soaking up every second of time with dad again who he had missed so much.
MAKING A HOME
We’ve started to find our footing in this new place. Every day felt like a new challenge, but we were accepting and conquering them.
We are still shocked by the endless beauty of the Pacific Northwest all around us. It may not totally feel normal calling this home, but anywhere with our family together really is home.
Now I’m ready for a vacation……..who knows when!