Travel, Tears and New Beginnings
by Jo Macdonald
They say that moving is one of the most stressful things you can do, it’s right up there with divorce and the death of a loved one. As someone who’s moved well over 20 times (including 6 different countries) it’s not actually the moving that I find hard.
It’s the tears & transition from one life to another.
The saying goodbye to a life you have created. That bit is horrible, and more often than not full of snotty-nosed, mascara-running, messy crying and over-the-top, gushing declarations of ‘I’ll miss you soooooooo much’ to absolutely everyone you’ve ever met including, and not limited to, close friends, family, casual acquaintances, the postman, local shop owners, and stray cats that inadvertantly cross your path.
It’s also where fear and doubt creep in, where you question your decision endlessly - usually at 3 o’clock in the morning where thoughts race so fast you wonder whether someone slipped something into your bedtime cuppa - and you ask yourself whether it wouldn’t just be better to stay where you are, doing what you’re doing, for the rest of your life (possibly in your pyjamas without actually having to leave the house at all). Because let’s be honest, change is hard and most of us find being creatures of habit far easier. And simpler.
All of this I have experienced multiple times. But, this move the tears have flowed more than normal.
Because my son has chosen to stay in the UK and we have flown to New Zealand. The other side of the world. Three flights away. And this mama is finding it very hard.
And, before anyone thinks of calling social services and telling them some mad writer has ditched her child, I should point out that he is 19 and a qualified Expedition Leader and Wilderness Medic. He is already a far more capable adult than I can ever hope of being.
But still, he will always be my boy. And yes, I know that sounds sappy, but it’s true. I don’t know what kind of relationship other people have with their 19-year old kids, but I am lucky to be very close to my son and genuinely enjoy our chats (that often leave us both crying with laughter) and our natural understanding of each other. And I am already missing him hugely.
Of course, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who might think I’m a terrible mum for moving overseas in the first place without one of my children. Fair enough, they’re entitled to their opinion. But anyone out there who is also in a multi-cultural marriage will understand the difficulty of always being away from one spouse’s homeland and family. And after 18 years living away from NZ it is time for my hubby to go home for a while. However hard a decision it might have been, it is also the right one for now.
So, we have packed everything into storage and put tennants into our house and, along with our 2 girls, have spent the last 2 months traveling around New Zealand in a camper van exploring both the North and South Island, catching-up with friends and family and seeing where we might want to live.
A few weeks ago the decision was made to park up and put down roots in Hawkes Bay. Our youngest daughter is now at the local school and quickly making friends, whilst our elder daughter has got stuck into college. And so life is slowly beginning to return to some sort of normality, although with just 2 children instead of 3, which I don’t think I’ll ever get used to. But, as my husband and I walked along the beach this morning watching the waves roll in, we took a moment to appreciate how lucky we are to be living somewhere so beautiful and how our long-time dream of living near the coast was now becoming a reality.
Sometimes you just have to take a leap, step out of your comfort zone, and take a chance. You have to start writing the next chapter of your life even if you’re not sure exactly where the story is heading. Often that’s the best way (for books and life).
So, despite the mama tears there is also huge excitement. A sense of creating something new, of shaking things up. As Robin Sharma says:
‘Don’t live the same year 80 times and call it a life’.
Making changes is hard, but there are so many gifts to be found when we do, all of which will no doubt be of great value in my own writing and life as I learn more about myself and this incredibly beautiful country that I have always loved to visit.
Travel is a great way to boost your creativity and inspire you, and I think that the older we get the more value we can gain from new adventures and experiences. I know that I’m way overdue an adventure after 13 years in the UK (the longest amount of time I’ve ever lived in one country!). I know that there will be plenty more tears to come - just last night I had a teary moment after talking to my son as he prepares to fly out to Morocco to summit Mount Toubkal before doing a quick turnaround to then take part in an expedition to Base Camp, Everest. Am I scared for him? Yes. Do I hate not being able to hug him before he goes? Absolutely, 100%. But I am also so proud of him, and inspired seeing him tackle his own dreams and adventures. It makes me want to be better, and live bigger too. That’s something that doesn’t get mentioned much in the parenting books - how often your children inspire you to get on with living a beautiful life, especially as they become adults. It is a very special feeling, I promise.
P.S if you haven’t read it yet, my mini-book on creating more adventures in your life after 40 is available over here