We’re Moving. Please Hold Me.


What’s the big deal about moving was always my first thought when someone else talked about it. (Not you, I never minimized you. I swear.)  I mean, you put your stuff in boxes, go to your new address, unpack and get on with your life, and I can get along with mine as soon as you quit bitching about the boxes all over your house or how hard it is to move with children around.


Now, I’m the one who’s moving and I suddenly understand it for the massively stressful and life-altering event that it is.

As I wade through the stages of moving, I’m seeing this for what it is: kind of like a death but with way more manual labor and zero chances to dress up and adorn myself with pearls.

On the first day after we signed a contract on a new place, I acted with great alacrity grabbing boxes from the top shelf of the office closet. I was going to start the Great Pre-Move Purge (“GPP”). Those three boxes? All children’s clothes.  I call them my “treasured clothing” stash and it’s basically every outfit my kids wore for the first eight months of their lives.  The boxes, they are huge.  They are overflowing with the matching hats and baby blankets that accompanied those long-gone days.  I buried my face into each little onsie and hoodie and knew I wouldn’t be able to part with a single one.  So that was two hours of not so much decluttering as refolding and crying into cotton outfits I hope my grandkids will wear.

Day two I hoped for more.  I emptied out my entire sock drawer and bra drawer onto my bed.  The plan was to go through all that crap– the nursing bras and the mismatched and holey woolen socks that cut off my circulation– but something happened (like I realized how boring it was to cull socks), and I walked away.  I have decluttered exactly one pair of socks out of that pile.  Every night I shove the pile on the floor so I can sleep, and in the morning I put it back on the bed so I can walk around the room.

I can report some success in the kitchen where I’ve ruthlessly purged rotting limes and old frosting tubes.  It’s hard to celebrate those victories because honestly? I should have done that weeks ago and not just because we are moving.

Now, if Jeff would let me touch his crap, I could really tally up some decluttering clout, pushing the GPP forward, but he’s asked me nicely not to so I’m coming up empty-handed.  (Jeff, I forgive you for holding me back, since you are usually so supportive.) Sure, there’ve been broken crayons and unidentifiable plastic toy pieces that I put into the trash without ever looking back, but that doesn’t count either.  Especially since Sadie is on to me and now goes through the trash hourly to see what precious article of hers I have callously discarded next to those limes that smell so less-than-citrusy-fresh.

I pawed through some old documents last night and relived some former glory days….like when I penned the famous footnote 5 to a big brief during my first year of practice.  (In later drafts, the footnote was removed, but for a span of about 36 hours, I was a pretty badass first year associate.)

In some ways moving from the house where my kids were conceived and lived their first few years feels like a funeral for a distant relative whose passing has caught me off guard and produced grief that feels way out of proportion for the actual loss.  But when you add up the loss of neighbors, all the familiars (the walk to the train, the regulars I wave to at the park, where the syringes are hidden in the alley), it all starts to feel like a loss worth grieving until our new landscape welcomes us in and gives us new familiars.

Til then, please hold me. Tight.


49 thoughts on “We’re Moving. Please Hold Me.

  1. If you read my blog in the months of November, December and January you’ll know that I understand this so, so well. Moving, even when it’s the right thing to do, it impossibly hard. I was absolutely paralyzed when we were moving out of our apartment, so we ended up having the movers pack us because I just couldn’t do it. It was much easier for me to purge while unpacking. And it wasn’t just leaving our apartment, but leaving Manahttan, my regular running paths, my route to work, the restaurants we love, and all of what you accumulate after years of living in the same place. I know it probably doesn’t help, but I can tell you without a doubt that it does get better, and the new place slowly starts to feel like home, because it really is starting to for me. I totally get it. It’s ok to be sad.

  2. I completely understand why you are stressed during the move! We are putting off a move that we know we need to make because we dread the move…actually, we even dread what we would have to purge to put the house on the market!
    Hang in there 🙂

  3. I so get this. I’ve moved two times locally in CA and across the country 3 years ago (all with kids). The stress of moving doesn’t really get easier, but it always turns out good in the end! However, EVERY time I really wish I’d done better at the GPP. It’s huge if you can make yourself do it. I ran out of time and you should see all of the crap that traveled across the country with us!

  4. Black plastic garbage bags. Essential. Then kids can’t see what’s inside the bags,which must be IMMEDIATELY deposited out of the house. Get a friend to come over & be ruthless on your shit. Do not drink or use recreational pharmaceuticals because it will increase the maudlin crying & repacking of things that in fact you do not really want. Trust me on that one. Final piece: movers sometimes charge by the pound, baby, so all your tiny puke-stained onesies? Gonna cost you…either in dollars or in your own sweat as you haul those boxes from one spot to the next. (good luck…)

  5. When we sold our house in Houston, I bawled like a baby. We had gotten engaged there, come home from our wedding there, brought the two oldest home from the hospital there and conceived the third there. I was devastated….It’s normal. But once you unpack your things in your new home, you will be able to start focusing on all the new memories (and scuffmarks) that your family make there. And you will be fine. Hugs and love from your home state! Stay strong and PURGE!

  6. We just moved in January and I felt the same way you did. I thought it would be easy peasy compared to selling and buying. It was hard leaving and packi g up and my 5 yo refused to move for awhile. It gets easier. Promise.

  7. You are my Ian with moving. I am the one who thinks it’s no biggie, he needs a lot of holding. It works for us. But even if you are breezy about it, it is extremely disruptive to life. I always underestimate that. For me, the stress comes with the contracts and the due diligence and setting the closing date — which you would think would be no big deal since it’s what I do for a living!!!! Oh the mind tricks us in such funny ways…(or maybe it’s just me).

  8. Totally holding you right now. I will feel the EXACT same way when we move. It is such an incredible amount of work, then the nostalgia on top of that… All my children were born while we lived here too. It’s the end of an era, right?

  9. When we moved into our current abode, we looked at the place on Saturday, signed the lease Monday. picked up the keys Thursday and moved in on Friday. My husband is a “just rip the damn band-aid off already!” kind of guy.

  10. It’s all about potential. If I give this away, I can make room for all my published books. If I ditch all the crayons we can get a new box of colored pencils. One. If I convince the kids to pack a box for the new house and a box for kids who don’t have toys, I will have a secret shelf for hiding pudding.

    Will the new house have a closet for my office? Will the new house have a corner for a shoe organizer? The kids will help choose their art corner and their book locations. You will find the right spot for writing.

    It’s all about August and your new life.

    Purge, purge, purge.

    Everything you pack has to be unpacked.

    And maje sure you remember a very clearly marked box for the transition with scissors, tape, can opener, toothpaste, spoons, and pudding.

    All the things you acnt bear to be without for a week.

  11. moving sucks. you just keep going on auto-pilot. the further in you go, i’m guessing, the more ruthless you’ll become with parting with your stuff. sometimes, when you get on a roll, you’re likely to throw out everything. just got to start the garbage bags moving! good luck. soon you’ll be settled. and the grass will be greener.

  12. Moving stinks like moldy limes. Blah. I culled a great amount of stuff as we (I) prepared to list our house for sale, but the real task will be the garage sale this week. I gave my little brother all of the good baby stuff from the attic, so at least that’s on it’s way out. And I plan another garage sale after I move so that I can get rid of the stuff that there’s no room for, but I need to wait until crap-dick gets all of his left-behind stuff from our house. That took a whole bunch of stuff I didn’t need to move, BTW, but I don’t recommend purging the hubster as part of your cleaning process.

    Good luck!

  13. I don’t move often for all the reasons you describe. I only want to move so I can purge a bunch of Mike’s crap. I guess we’re staying put. I’m so excited for you and your big new adventure!

  14. That box of stuff you need in the first week? Add toilet paper.

    My husband used to build spec homes and we would live in them until they sold. Besides the stress of trying to keep a house tidy for showings when I had three little kids (and housekeeping is NOT my forte!), the constant moving was hideous.

  15. We moved three years ago and it still haunts me. I swear I’ll never move again save for a few very specific instances where I’ll allow it. Otherwise I plan to die here.

    My tip: Do not stand in the kids’ empty bedrooms right before you leave for the last time and recall the moments you brought them home there, etc. Don’t do it. But if you’re going to anyway, make sure you didn’t pack the tissues.

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