Right now, we are undergoing a ton of transitions it feels like. Our oldest son is starting his second year of college. He didn’t really care for dorm life, so he got an apartment and a job to help pay for it. We are selling our belongings on a massive scale. The house is up for sale. We are going to be renters and not homeowners for the first time in 20+ years. We have earned three levels of sailing certifications. Our youngest will graduate high school this year. There’s a lot going on.
When dealing with massive change like this, things can be tough. Trying to get one settled in a new place. He’s grown up. Trying to sort through belongings that we haven’t touched in years, but still bring a degree of feelings and memories. Keeping the house in the cleanest possible condition so that we can walk out in less than 30 minutes to let someone see the house. There’s a lot of stress that comes with this time in our lives. At times I think is the stress worth it? As I think that though, I am reminded though that to make the change that we want to make, there’s going to be stress and it’s a means to an end. If making this kind of change were easy, everyone would do it.
When you break out of your comfort zone and start pushing boundaries that you’ve either accepted or set for yourself things are going to be difficult. Looking at 20 years of material possessions that you’ve moved from place to place or bought on a family vacation and then deciding that it’s not really necessary to keep is not an easy task. All of the kids’ handmade artwork from elementary school is being either sold or discarded. These are things that bring up a lot of different emotions. On the one hand, if you have those things, you have to have a place for those things. It means that you are settled in one place and you will fill that space, not just with those creations, but other things that looked special on a given day.
On the other hand, not having those creations doesn’t mean that the kids didn’t have a chance to express their creativity. Nor does it mean that you don’t care about what they’ve done. But you can rest easy knowing that the kids had the opportunities to express their creative side. They learned some things about being creative and making art. But you don’t have to hang on to it for the rest of your days. You can be in a place that is comfortable with not having the physical expression of their creativity from kindergarten, but knowing that they had the experience. It takes a bit of work and reflection to reach that place, but I’m getting there.
We are currently in a house that is almost 4,000 square feet. We are moving into a property that is only going to be 1800 square feet. And then the boat is going to roughly 40×18, so maybe 800 square feet. Material possessions are a nice reflection of places we’ve been and experiences we’ve had. But at the same time, if I digitize photographs and have an electronic picture frame of those experiences, I get to see those more regularly than the souvenir that is in the storage tub under the stairs.
Changing from owner to renter is a challenging thought as well. Really for the last 20 years if we saw something in the house that we thought would be better, well we changed it. That’s not going to happen now. Of course, that has its upside too. That means that we won’t be spending much money on home improvements and can save it for the boat or buy some things ahead of time that we know we are going to need when we get there.
There’s also this other weird transition. Our youngest will be with us for at least a year after he graduates. But as we learned on the charter, relationships change a bit. If someone’s at the helm and barks out a need. It doesn’t matter who it is asking, it gets done right then. Putting a fender out, making a turn around point, bringing the boom in; these are things that can’t wait for a discussion. It happens no matter who is saying it needs to be done. “I’m doing this right now because I’m the dad” isn’t a viable way of doing things on the boat.
The other transition is with our oldest now in an apartment on his own, 45 minutes away, our role as parents is changing. Things are a bit different. I can’t just hop in the car and cruise on over to help hang a curtain rod. I can talk him through things, I can be there to listen. But now it’s more about listening than offering advice or giving direction. The days of being at the school late at night to pick him up after a speech trip or having to drive either kid to a practice or the movie or something. The transition from caretaker to whatever is that is next is something to adjust to as well. I don’t always know what is my role now. I’ve given the guidance, advice, thoughts etc. already. It’s kind of up to them to make decisions about how they are going to live life.
Like I said, even though our youngest will be with us for at least a year, it’s going to be a different relationship. Even now, after the charter, I’ve seen changes. He’s more confident in his decisions. There are things in the past that I would’ve thought he could make that decision but he’d check with us. Now he’s just making a decision and it’s a good thing, but it’s different.
Life is all about transitions. It is. Sometimes they are easier than others. When they are piled on top of each other…it’s challenging! But it is those challenging times that make the good times more enjoyable. Kind of like the hike to the top of a mountain. You reach places when you don’t think you can continue on, but once you get there, those seem pretty insignificant compared to the view from the peak.