It was a very tough move.
I spent many nights wondering if we did the right thing. While everything else was going swimmingly, my oldest was heartbroken. It wasn't a lack of new friends and experiences, he just missed his old life so terribly. He wasn't as open to a new school and a new existence as my other three kids were instead he clung to what he knew and loved.
I asked him before we moved to give me a year. ONE YEAR. I asked him to be open to new friends and new coaches. I promised him in one year he would feel at home. I prayed it would be sooner, but I promised he would feel like himself again in one year.
And then I waited.
The first few weeks there was enough going on to keep him distracted. He was meeting new kids, adjusting to a new school and learning his way around a new (very small) town. But after those first two or three weeks he was more quiet, and he didn't smile as much. He was moody. Oh my word the moods were almost unbearable. I knew he was homesick, and I had no easy fix. This was a parenting scenario I'd never navigated, and other than loving him I didn't know how to help.
All my kids met new friends easily, and they were busy. They attended summer camps and we immediately met families we enjoyed spending time with. We spent time at barbecues and parties; we went to dinner and saw kids we knew when we ran errands. My other three were happy as clams, but my oldest still resisted accepting our new home completely. He had days he was fine, and then he had days he seemed distant and unhappy.
He broke down one night in July and told us he didn't want to play football anymore. My heart felt like it was being ripped from my chest. This was a boy who lived for Sunday afternoons in the fall, and here he was telling us he was done. There was no determination left, just confusion. After many agonizing nights I told him that when we lose our way, we need the people who know us best to remind us who we are. We need our family to show us the way. Football would help him feel like himself again, because it was always a part of his life. To abandon a love you've had since you were six would only exacerbate the problem.
Reluctantly, he listened.
It still pains me to remember how heartbroken he was, and how helpless I felt because the only answer was time. One day in late summer I took a picture of him with his sister at the town pool. The picture is one of my favorites, because it is one of those moments I felt he was truly happy. He was him. I knew at that moment he would be okay. We weren't there yet, but we were slowly trudging along.
After school started up again, and football season began, he started to snap out of his moods. By now he had many friends, and he was comfortable in our new town. I started to see his old smile, and he seemed more "him." I hoped this would hurry along his adjustment period, but then we'd always have a setback. He'd talk to one of his best friends he left behind or he'd cry himself to sleep. More heartbreak for him and by default, me.
Just a few months ago we were driving a friend home, and this boy's family was moving to a new house. I asked if he was ready for his move, and if he was all packed up. My oldest went from smiles to stone faced. After we dropped the boy off, my son broke down. Just the little bit of moving discussion drudged up too many memories, and he confessed he still missed our old home. He missed his old friends and his old school.
Tomorrow my son is 13, and we are just over a year into living in our new town. He's met wonderful friends, and although I know he still misses New York State, he is happy. He has found a place for himself in our new town. I think of his birthday last year, and all the tears he cried because he was so out of sorts. He was so confused and longed to be back in his old life.
This year, I'm confident he'll wake up happy. I'm thrilled we are one year into our life in Pennsylvania. We've adjusted wonderfully, and I can now count my oldest into the "we've."
Such a relief.
Happy 1-3 to my baby. This past year was difficult, and I'm beyond proud of the kid he is despite having to make many adjustments. I can't believe he's a teenager, especially since I remember examining him in my hospital room like it was yesterday. I feel like I blinked and he went from playing trains to finishing seventh grade.
Enjoy it mamas. I feel like I went to bed last night and today my son is thirteen. Unbelievable.