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Family values and the most stressful week of our lives

The house is all packed up, movers come this afternoon. I got a free hour this morning while the kids were out and walked to our favorite cafe to get the same drink I always get and to sit at the same tables we have always sat at, and write something about what this past month has been like. It’s been stressful, it’s been exciting, it’s been all the things. We're at the edge of an ending and a new beginning. It's emotional.

I recently told Isaac, “The week we move will probably be the most stressful week of our lives.” And so far it has been. Our garage and front gate got broken into over the weekend. Nothing was stolen, thankfully, but it sucked up a lot of our time. Then our moving company called to tell us they don’t have a container for us, due to a Covid-related shortage of shipping containers. When they asked if we could push our move back by a few weeks, we said “no way!” and they managed to get a storage company to pick up our stuff (at our expense ugh). It’ll add a month to the already 8-12 weeks we’ll be waiting for our belongings on the other side. To top it off, last night I dreamt I tested positive for Covid. (Our tests are tomorrow, let’s hope it goes well in real life.) So yeah, it’s sizing up to be the most stressful week of our lives. We still have an 8-hour layover in LAX and a 13 hour flight to Auckland ahead of us, plus two weeks in managed quarantine at a hotel someplace in New Zealand (we’ll find out where when we land). Perhaps the hardest part about it is being a parent though it all. Isaac and I both try to be as real as possible with our kids. I want them to see our joy and patience, but also to see us cry, see us angry, and see our frustration too. But I struggle with anxiety, and that’s the one thing I don’t want them to see – I don't want to make them anxious too, no kid needs that. It’s been an effort this week to keep my calm for them.

There’s nothing on our fridge right now except a single index card with six words written on it. They’re our “family values.” We made them before Jude was born in an effort to align on how we wanted to raise our kids, and these six words have been the foundation on which we formed our dream of moving to rural New Zealand. (You can see them below, with a seventh I added as a joke this week. Everything falls apart when we have under-slept!)

The process of coming up with them was simple: we sat down and discussed what mattered to us and what didn’t, then we narrowed it down to the few most important things. We have held our life up to these values over the past few years and asked ourselves if how we spend our time, and how we’re raising our kids, measures up to them. It’s one of the reasons Isaac left his career to be a stay-at-home dad when Jude was a baby. When I was working a lot and my focus was on career and money, these values are what led me to think about quitting. They’ve also guided us in making traditions for holidays and birthdays for the kids.

As a parting gift, my good friend Ginger gave me a necklace with each of these values on it. I’m wearing all six of the pendants today as a reminder of the light at the end of this tunnel: a life rich with alignment to what is important to me and to our family. These words will be my anchor through the tough few weeks to come.

Last night after I tucked the kids into the travel beds they are sleeping in, in their mostly empty rooms with my lullabies echoing off the bare walls, I sat down in the kitchen and cried. I’m excited for what’s coming, but also so deeply sad to leave the people and places I love here in San Francisco. At the center of this move, there’s a lot of sadness for me. I've always found that you've got to let go of something old in order to gain something new, and it's so hard.

But at this precise moment everything is pretty wonderful. This matcha latte from our local cafe is as delicious as it always has been, the air is crisp, and I have this rare hour to myself to reflect. I hope I can remember that this is how we’ll get through the coming few days – one breath and one moment at a time.

Goodbye San Francisco, you'll be missed...

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