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Published April 22, 2013, 11:35 PM

Parenting Perspectives: Moving to a new home, moving on

There are two things in life that have made me utter the words, “I’m never doing that again.” One of them is paintball. I still have welts from a rousing game of paintball that one “Saved-by-the-Bell” looking co-worker talked me into playing in 1989.

By: Tracy Briggs, INFORUM

There are two things in life that have made me utter the words, “I’m never doing that again.”

One of them is paintball. I still have welts from a rousing game of paintball that one “Saved-by-the-Bell” looking co-worker talked me into playing in 1989.

The other is moving.

Moving is a special kind of torture for us packrats. It’s when we pay the piper for all the times we’ve uttered “Oh, I can’t throw that away.”

I’ve spent weeks packing and unpacking boxes, sorting through our must haves and our “why did we buy this?”

But worse than the physical clutter of it all, is the emotional fallout.

It’s been a transition stage for all of us. A sad good-bye to a house we loved but outgrew. One of my daughters even kissed the wall and dramatically exclaimed, “This is where I took my first steps!” It’s the only house either one of them has really known, and it hasn’t been easy.

I’ve tried to convince them that the memories made in the old house don’t stay there. They stay with us.

And I know of what I speak. We moved a handful of times when I was a kid from Iowa to New York City to Washington D.C. to Fargo.

I knew what it was like to be the new kid in school. My children aren’t changing schools with this move, so I’ve tried to point that out. The only thing changing for them is their immediate surroundings. They don’t leave teachers, friends or dance classes. But I know that doesn’t make everything go away.

I think they’re smart enough to understand this isn’t just about saying good-bye to a house or even the memories made inside of it; it’s more about saying good-bye to a stage of their lives. This was their little-girl house. A place where we hosted Elmo birthday parties, danced to Penny and Pals and slept in Disney Princess bedrooms. A place where meals came out of Gerber baby food jars and beverages slurped out of sippy cups.

It all became very real to me as I opened a kitchen drawer and found a little pink, flowered bib stuffed way in the back. I had thrown most of our bibs away, but this one was left behind. As I looked at it, still stained from baby food carrots, I couldn’t help but smile remembering how my younger daughter ate so many carrots her nose started turning orange.

Then when I went upstairs and started packing up posters in the girls’ bedroom, I was hit with another glaring sign of the passage of time. They told me to ditch the Wiggles poster, but keep One Direction. Sorry, Anthony, Greg, Murray and Jeff. Time to ride that “toot, toot, chugga, big red car” into the sunset. You’ve been replaced.

But as sad as it is to leave, the fact is that the last couple of years in the house were feeling a little cramped. The girls needed space of their own. And (GASP!) didn’t always want me around. What’s up with that?

We all must face that our kids are growing up, but a move brings that realization front and center, like a neon flashing sign that screams “THEY’LL BE LEAVING SOON!”

As I unpack in the new house, I know this will be their big-kid house. The place where they do homework, get dressed for first dates and deal with heartbreaks. And we’ll enjoy these stages in their lives as well. But that doesn’t make saying good-bye to the old stage any easier.

As far as never moving again, I know it’s not likely. Over my aching back and frustration, I told the girls the next time we move it’s when they pack up mom and dad for the home. On a brighter note, maybe my paintball welts will have healed by then.

Tracy Briggs is a mother of two and is an employee of Forum Communications Co.

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