As humans, we are hard-wired to hate change. As mums, I think our anti-change sentiment goes deeper and further. When it comes to kids, routine is good. If they know what they’re doing, when they’re doing it, they seem to cope better (though I would not go so far as to wake a sleeping baby, a la Gina Ford). If mum is stressed, the kids are stressed. If the kids are stressed, mum is close to breakdown.
Imagine, then, the stress of moving on a family. It’s not just about the boxes and the mess and the packing up of various lives. It’s about finding a new routine. Meeting new people, starting new schools, doing new things. No more barbies with the same old group every weekend, talking about the same old stuff. Instead you all, individually and as a family, must put your best faces forward and find a new group.
I confess I found it all exhausting at first. For starters, you have to clean the house every time someone new steps in it. Cast your mind back to the days before you worked out which are the friends you need to clean up for, and which are the friends who will happily drink coffee amidst your baskets of ‘to be folded’ washing (I have several of these – somehow the actual folding never seems to happen). I have been there every day for 12 months.
But there is also something exhilarating about starting over. You get to have new conversations, sometimes about things you’d never considered. Like the other day when my friend K, a beautifully practical artistic soul, informed me that she thought it would be a good idea to add a pig to the growing menagerie on her ‘town’ block. She’s already got five or six chickens, three ducks, an old, disintegrating jeep, a cubby house, a tire swing, an art studio and a swing set in her backyard.
I choked on my wine when she mentioned the pig. Where was she going to put it? Did she need council approval? Why, oh why, would she want one? She laughed, explaining she was still looking into it all. Apparently, pigs are the new dogs and there’s a whole movement of people keen to love them from ‘birth to bacon’ (or something like that). In other words, you get the pig, raise the pig, eat the pig.
I can’t help but wonder what the neighbours will think when she puts that one to them.