The year was 1999. During my daily journaling, I was writing about what felt may happen in the upcoming years and was surprised to see that I had written “move to a different state within three years.”
I'd been living in Santa Fe since 1987 with my then-husband, and we birthed three babies before divorcing in 2000. Our kids were five, seven and nine when I realized that our time in the southwest would be coming to a close. I knew it because I felt it, but I was also ready.
In fact, I'd been entertaining the possibility of a move, but I assumed it would be back to Colorado where my ex-husband and I started our marriage. It was a state we loved and knew well, and my kids and I traveled there often over the next several years. An eventual move there seemed obvious.
But then in 2003, I reunited with a gentleman from my past and our courtship quickly turned into plans to move in together. I knew I'd be making the move to his state 1500 miles away, despite having three kids in tow, but I had already been emotionally primed for a move. He could not leave his resident state without forfeiting custody of his only child, so it was natural for me to relocate, and I had few reservations about doing so.
So by Thanksgiving of that year, we packed up the first of two trips into his camper truck and we slowly crept our way from Santa Fe to Seattle. It was winter and the mountain passes were snowy and rainy, but I was thrilled for our new adventure.
I'd been used to moving, and was bitten by the travel bug early in life.
I was born in Chicago, then moved as the youngest of eight children to Mexico for our father's work. We returned to Chicago five years later and stayed for a decade, then we escaped to South Carolina after my father's company laid him off just before retirement. One year there, and I was invited to spend my Junior year of High School in Brazil with my sister and her then-husband. I returned to SC a year later, graduated, then moved a few hours north for college. Two years later, I took advantage of the National Student Exchange Program and moved ¾ of the way cross-country to New Mexico where I later met and married my husband. Three days after we wed, we drove a small van filled with our meager belongings to Colorado, then two years later we set up our second homestead, this time in Santa Fe.
So when the opportunity came up to move to Seattle, I wasn't at all worried, even though I had several strikes against me. First of all, my children's father shared joint-custody so he had to be on-board for this any change in residence. I also had to make sure it was a responsible move for our kids since I'd be uprooting them from the only place they knew, filled with friends, schools and activities they loved.
Could we recreate a fun and fulfilling life in another state?
It didn't take me long to answer with a resounding “YES!” I'd had enough experience to believe that this would be a good move for our family filled with new experiences and blessings. My children would be exposed to new people, new friends, new schools, new experiences and a whole new part of the country.
But there were also bumps to be expected, and we had plenty of them in the first months. My oldest son was a popular kid in a new Junior High School in Santa Fe so his transition to another new place didn't go over well, despite his initial excitement to move cross-country.
He missed knowing everyone, he left behind his first girl-crush, and he felt like a small fish in a sea of new faces. He sobbed most mornings as I dropped him of at school, my heart breaking into a million pieces. The other two kids, fortunately, transitioned quickly and easily into their new classes and routines, complete with friends and new activities.
But as all the new fears and doubts began to wear off, my oldest became a popular kid once again. It happened slowly, as most monumental events do—first when he won his classroom Spelling Bee, and then when he won the school's Spelling Bee. As he spelled the winning word, a crowd of kids rose to their feet in unison, chanting “Yay, Sunshine!” I think it was that day that I fell in love with our new town, and he once again felt like a big kid in a welcoming swarm of classmates who were just like him.
Thirteen years later, my three twenty-somethings have become true Washingtonians, though I believe that actually happened within the first five years of our move. The kids became an integral part of their schools, their groups of friends, and many activities right away, and living somewhere different became a new normal. They were also fortunate to have traveled to their home state of New Mexico twice a year to visit their dad and extended family.
The kids learned that new challenges could be mastered, that life changes and presents new opportunities for growth, and that anything can be weathered if surrounded by those who love and care about you. Despite a break-up four years after moving in with the man we made the move to Washington for, the kids and I continued to flourish on our own.
And they eventually all went off to college without many of the new issues that arise when kids leave home and transition somewhere new. They'd already experienced that years before so they had a wealth of information to draw from. They have been gutsy, brave, and unflappable, as they've faced new challenges and roadblocks while venturing into their futures.
Kate Morgan Coaching
Author, Column Journalist, and long-time single mother of three kids who are now all in college (how the heck did that happen?).