I don't normally underestimate the impact transitions will have on my girls, but there's no denying that so far this move has been harder on the kids than I expected. I was prepared for them to struggle later--while we were in the States maybe, or after we'd arrived in Japan--but I didn't expect them to have trouble before we left Sicily. Here, our surroundings are familiar; we're just sleeping in a hotel--and normally my girls love sleeping in hotels. Of course, now I understand that these familiar surrounding might be part of the problem--we're home, so why can't we just go home?--but when I was anticipating our move, this part was supposed to be easy.
We've been spending hours at the pool, eating in restaurants, ordering gelato, and playing with friends. We've been watching movies in bed, planning picnics and park trips and bowling dates, and telling lots and lots of stories. All our 'in transit' days so far have been summery and peaceful and fun, but neither of the girls seems totally happy or at ease. They aren't sleeping well. They're having breakdowns over ice-cream. They both suspect our room might be harboring tigers. At times, they're getting swept up in all the activity, of course, and when Katherine passed 'level one' at swim class, she got excited, but inside those busy bodies their little minds are both concerned.
I'm the opposite. I'm actually, really having fun. I thought I'd be brooding over the mindset of my daughters, but I'm not. (They'll be okay. They'll get through this transition. In the meantime, I'm always available to snuggle or listen or tell stories and Chris is the master at ridding a room of its tigers.) Instead, I feel like I'm on vacation, but without any of the pressure to sightsee. Suddenly, I don't have to worry about grocery lists or laundry piles or chores. There's nothing for me to clean up or organize or pack. All I have to do is lounge by the pool in my new pink cover-up and occasionally splash my girls. In the evenings, when my muscles are relaxed and loosened from the sun and my hair's still dripping wet from the shower, there isn't anything waiting for me to accomplish. I don't have anything to do, so I've been going to bed early. I don't know if it's the sleep or the sun or the swimsuit, but I've been feeling happier lately: more cheerful, more talkative, and more relaxed. The kids in my life--my kids and my kids' friends--somehow seem even more precious to me now. I'm playful.
Of course, I know I'm going to miss this place when we leave, but right now I'm just not feeling sad. I'm grateful for the friendships we've made here and the wonderful experiences we've had, but I'm also eager for our next adventure. I'm re-charged and ready to explore again. I'm starting to realize, too, that I don't always have to feel what my kids feel. Sometimes it's okay to be there for them, but to hold on to my own feelings in the process. Does that make sense? And hopefully, hopefully, if the girls see their mom being playful and happy and relaxed, they'll eventually stop worrying about this transition and start having fun. After all, we live in the Mediterranean (at least for a few more days)--and it's summer!
**Speaking of fun, this realization was brought to you by Bigger Picture Moments. (Come on, play!)**