Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

So, we ended up telling the girls that we might be moving.

We didn't want to tell them until it was definite, which it still isn't, but the problem with having smart kids (which, by the way, is highly overrated) is that they hear all kinds of things that you think they can't hear. And naturally, the thought of uprooting our family has caused quite a bit of discussion around here, even though we've tried to be discreet. So Ana asked me point-blank if we were moving and I said that we were considering it and then she was so excited that she kept asking questions and then JANE picked up on it and then all horrible hell broke loose.

You know how I am having sort of a crisis of confidence about my ability to parent my kids in the best way to meet their needs and turn them into productive, happy members of society? You opposed to living on the streets and panhandling to get the money to buy a new comic book and a bag of Hershey's kisses which they will eat for breakfast, despite my warnings of sugar crashes and cavities? (Sometimes I picture my children as the dregs of society and I think, "Dang, that was a lot of time wasted making them brush their teeth.")

Anyway, as further fodder to this idea that I know NOTHING about my kids, they reacted in the complete exact opposite ways in which I'd have guessed. Ana, who has tended to fight change and transition all of her life (like, she used to go upstairs and hide in her closet rather than say goodbye to a friend at the end of a play date), immediately began to make plans for living in a climate with a real winter. "Can we buy a sled, Mom? And can we paint my room the exact same way it's painted now? Can I take my door and just hang it on my wall in the new house?" (It's decorated with about four million stickers --which are going to be quite some chore to remove if we have to get this house ready to sell.) She was bouncing up and down. She couldn't wait to tell her friends and her first words to me this morning were, "Mom, I still can't believe we might be moving! I didn't just dream that, did I?"

But Jane -- my outgoing, gregarious Janie, who can make a life-long friend in the time it takes to go through the grocery checkout line-- cried (sobbed, really) for more than an hour. As is typical for my little extrovert, she was more concerned over never seeing her friends again than missing this house, etc. It was awful. It was very unexpected. It was heart-rending.

And it precipitated the worst fight Coop and I have ever had in eleven-plus years together. Because he thinks I betrayed our agreement to tell the kids when we were all together as a family and he thinks if he had been there when the news sunk in, Jane would not have been so upset. I, naturally, tried to put the discussion off until dinner but as Ana was asking questions, Jane picked up on it and I thought it would cause more anxiety and make it a bigger, scarier deal to defer the conversation until later. I feel like I made the best decision in that moment and Coop feels like I was absolutely in the wrong and he is angrier than I have ever seen him.

So, we've got that going for us.

Me? I'm excited about the possibility of moving, although it will be difficult to move so far away from my mom and I will hate to leave this house. But, as an Army brat, I've moved enough to know that there are some advantages to a fresh start in a new city, and also some heartbreak in all you leave behind. I contend that in today's day and age, when electronic communication is so cheap and easy, true friendship will not be thwarted by distance. I also know that home is not always where you live physically, but is almost always defined by where the people you love best are. I think it will be very good for my kids to move if we decide to go forward with it. I think it will build confidence and teach self reliance, which you only gain by overcoming adversity.

I guess if you want to know what Coop thinks about the possibility of moving, you'll have to ask him because we're still not speaking.


Anonymous said…
Well, you and I are concrete evidence that true, best friends cannot be thwarted by distance.

And, can I have Coop's email address?

Just kidding, sort of.
DK said…
Hmm. Maybe it's my psychiatrist nature, but I suspect, here, that Coop's having his own anxieties about the move and taking this opportunity to displace that onto you. Beause this response was clearly out of proportion to the actual offense, and there tends to be some reassigment of emotion when that's the case...

And for the record, as a former smart kid, I think you totally made the right choice. The girls clearly knew something was up, and if you "hid" it from them, they'd worry about what else you were hiding, and why it was such a big deal that you didn't just tell them in the first place, and, and, and.

And Coop owes you flowers. It's hard enough to be the one who has to make those decisions on the fly without someone else questioning your judgment.

I'm really glad Ana's excited, though. Jane will be fine. And dude, you so need a sled.
Anonymous said…
Yeah, what dk said.
I think dk is right--Coop is way overreacting. As parental units, we sometimes have to move in autonomous ways, with the greater good in mind. I find it hard to believe that other things haven't come up where one or the other of you had to make a decision outside the clearly defined borders of a previous agreement based on new information (the questions).

I think your approach was the right one.

Still, I hope you work that out.
Anonymous said…
You can't alway wait until the time is perfect with children. They do hear things and maybe misinterpret what's going on and you knew you had to tell them there and then. A judgement call.

I do hope you and your dh have worked things out.

Moving sounds exciting and fun. And if you think it will be good for your children chances are it will be because you'll all make it so. Especially if you get the chance of snow too!!
DK is correct, BUT you should still apologize. He's upset. Smooth it over. Who cares who's right? It gets you marriage points. And, then, after (AFTER) you apologize, ask him if he's worried about the move.
Ei said…
Real winter is over-rated, but sleds are fun!

I shall refrain from talking about Coop and his reaction because, let's face it, successful married stuff is not my deal. But I understand what happened to you. I too have been ambushed by kids who are too smart for their own good. And you are right, it is over-rated.
Trish said…
I agree with suburbancorrespondent. Who agrees with dk, with a small caveat.

PJ gets upset in that same way, and you can scratch the surface and see that he's redirecting anxiety or whatever (yeah, I'm not a psychiatrist). Fathers, especially those with daughters I suspect, take their role very very seriously. He's the one who is 'causing' the move so he's sensitive about the impact it's going to have on the kids, and he wanted to be there to reassure them (and reassure himself) that it would all be OK. PJ's entertaining a big job offer at the moment that will finally allow us to buy a house. I'm thinking of the new kitchen and new neighbourhood and hopefully an ensuite bathroom and you know what his first response was? We would be able to afford to build a decent fence around the backyard and finally buy the girls puppies!! Yes, that was his first thing.

Meanwhile I'm so excited for you... what an adventure. I'm glad Ana's excited too. Will you be there for a white Christmas this year??
MadMad said…
Speaking to husbands is really over-rated, anyway. They don't tend to remember what you said anyway, so, really why bother talking to them in the first place?

That said, (and I think you did what you had to do, and dk is right about Coop's probably having his own anxieties about moving), Coop maybe also feels "guilty" about it, so would have liked to have been there so that it didn't look like this was his fault and it was the three of you against him.

Nah, forget it. Who cares what he thinks. Let him get his own blog friends. I'm with you!
Lynda said…
Barb, you did the right thing and Coop is over reacting. I think that dk is probably right about him misdirecting his anxieties about the move.

If you can make nice and smooth things over and find out what the REAL problem is, things will be fine. Sometimes it is sooooooo hard to get men to talk and tell us what's really wrong.
Damsel said…
Oh, Barb, I'm sorry that you and Coop are in a snit.

I sort of agree with whoever said the thing about who cares who's right? Sometimes the greater good is to get the two communicating again, and sometimes that means an apology when I don't feel like I should have to apologize.

I know you two will work it out, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt in the meantime. (Okay, that last sentence was sort of Seuss-ish. Sorry.)
Anonymous said…
Coop is a responsibility kind of guy so he wants to be the barer and brunter of this news that he is bringing upon your family. I do think you did what you had to do but to empathize with him its kind of like he bought a sizable gift and you gave it to the kids when he wasn't around and that must hurt. But this is life and not everything is perfect and in the great scheme of things you'll both have to "move on" HA!
Anonymous said…
fighting is the pits!(either kind the loud or the very quiet) Just tell him you caved and sorry, unfortunately life does not always cooperate with our plans, even good ones. I am sure it will all work out, just get the kids focused on the big adventure
Hope you are moving some place interesting.