March 2022: In which we are moving and one of us (not me) is a liar

Every month since, oh, January of last year, I’ve planned to post a general life update here. 15th time lucky!

Somehow a third of this year has disappeared already. We made the massive, protracted and very angsty decision at the end of last year to move to Tauranga. Apart from 10 months in equally-grey Vancouver, I’ve lived in Wellington my whole life. The year before, I’d made the (I thought) final call and decided we would plan to stay in our house for the long haul. I hate the cold and the constant wind, but we love the kids’ school, and we’re close to coffee, the gym, old and new friends, ducks and dog walks.

Pretty much immediately, the universe does what the universe does, and upended everything. First, Diogo got a job where he works remotely from home, and I realised that all my client meetings had been online for the past year – so neither of us needs to physically be in Wellington anymore for work. Another big part of our decision to stay put had been about family – my parents are here, and although I desperately wanted to be closer to my brother and his wife, especially once they start a family, we had two of my amazing cousins and my aunt nearby. Then both cousins promptly moved away – one to Tauranga, no less – and my aunt and her partner decided to move overseas.

We’ve spent pretty much all our holidays in Tauranga since the boys were born. My brother has been there for about 10 years now, and his wife grew up there. We love the beach, the sunshine, the relaxed pace, the food. We have friends there and regular spots we like to go. We discovered there’s a Montessori primary school there, right by the beach, and I went and visited it and found it absolutely delightful.

Then I got home and it rained for three weeks straight. On the rare day that the sun came out and stayed out, we discovered our kids are old enough to spend pretty much the whole day pottering around outside without us. They love it. We love it. I realised how much of my time I spend being cold, and how intensely it saps my energy. I realised I want my kids to grow up looking like the kids I saw up there: sun-bleached hair, bare feet and tanned skin, riding their bikes and playing in the surf. There seems to be kids everywhere in Papamoa and the Mount – out playing on the street and in driveways in a way they just don’t in Wellington.

So we decided. We’d do it. We got Nico into the new school and found Luca a preschool, and I took January off work and spent it working harder than I’ve ever worked in my life, painting and sanding and scrubbing and weeding. Our aim was to get up there for the term 1 holidays, to start term 2 at their new schools.

Now it’s the end of March, and those holidays are two weeks away. Our house is still on the market – we had an offer, but they dropped out when they couldn’t find a buyer for their own home. This morning we put in an offer on a house, again, after several unsuccessful attempts. This one is probably also likely to be unsuccessful. We’ve managed to absolutely nail our timing and be caught in a perfect storm of bank regulation changes and Covid that mean the housing market is an absolute nightmare. But we’re sticking at it, because we’ve come too far now to go back to everything as it was.

It’s stressful, and it’s frustrating. And it’s exciting and overwhelming. I’m very scared and very hopeful.

Updates hopefully to follow.

I started an exercise in February that I heard about on a podcast – for 30 days, you journal each day under three headings:

  • What filled me with enthusiasm today?
  • What drained me of energy today?
  • What did I learn about myself today?

It’s meant to help you gain clarity about which of your habits aren’t serving you, and where you should be putting your energy. On day 30, you go through everything you’ve written and find patterns. These were mine:

  • Say what you need (it’s okay to say what you need).
  • Have a routine and stick to it; getting rid of the little choices makes the big ones easier.
  • Get outside and do things with friends and family.
  • Play with your kids (but say what you need).
  • Walk a lot.
  • Inertia will eat you; just do something. (Not scrolling your phone. Put it down.)
  • Eat the things that make you feel good.
  • Aim high but go slow – do things well and enjoy the process.
  • Just start writing. It’s always hard until it’s not.
  • Clean your house.

Nico is about to turn 6, which at Montessori means transitioning to primary school. He’s excited but I think also a bit nervous about being the youngest again – being a role model and a leader is a big part of his identity at preschool. He’s absolutely obsessed with drawing at the moment – it’s even eclipsed Lego. He’s discovered YouTube tutorials and will do 10 or 12 of them a day, some of them staggeringly good. He’s grown so much all his pants from last year are up above mid-shin, his limbs suddenly so long and skinny he looks like a little spider.

Luca is four and a half. He’s learned to ride a bike, has a girlfriend in his class, and has discovered the concept of “tomorrow” (a parenting issue I didn’t see coming. One evening, I mentioned something he was waiting for was happening tomorrow. The next day, when he asked me what day it was, I said “Tuesday” and he broke down in furious betrayed sobs, yelling “YOU TRICKED ME, MUMMY! YOU TRICKED ME!”). He’s also a consummate and elaborate storyteller, which is maybe just a euphemism for an out-of-control liar.

His stories/wild fibs have three components: “Did you know”, “Logan said”, and “Right?”. For example, if Nico was to mention that a jellyfish was poisonous, Luca would promptly respond, “Did you know that Logan saw that jellyfish and it stinged him so that means it’s poison, right Mummy?” 

Although he’ll also happily go for something as mundane as “Did you know that today at lunch Logan said he likes carrots the best. He said that because carrots are yum, right?” The line between what’s real and what’s not can only at this point be verified by Logan.

Finally, two really good books that I liked a lot and think you (whoever you are) should read:



I’m boring now. 

I’ve fought it for years, but it’s time to give in and cop on: I don’t have anything to write about because my life – and by extension my very person – is boring. Prone as I am to solitary sports like reading and long walks, I was never the one with a daring story for every occasion, usually ending with one or more participants spending the night at A&E or under a bush somewhere (that’s my brother’s job – no, literally, it’s his job: he spent 20 years in radio), but I held my own. I went places and saw people and collected a funny anecdote or two to share once I went new places and saw new people.

But now so little happens to me that I’ve been reduced to using journal prompts to even have anything to say to myself of an evening. I know I’m not alone in this – the only reminiscing people will be doing about this portion of history is “remember when we all stayed home for two years?” – but I have some exacerbating circumstances that make me even more boring than everyone else.

For the last eight years, I’ve worked from home. For six of those eight years, I’ve also had small children. This combination means that most of the people I talk to are me or were made by me – and although I hold great hopes for the people I made, at this stage they still mostly talk about Ninjago and snacks. I’ve reached a point where I’m living vicariously through my local barista – a 23-year-old hipster with the build of a baby giraffe and some complicated lady problems.

(Do we still call youngsters with man buns and exposed ankles “hipsters”, or is there a new word I’ve missed because it’s not on Ninjago?)

Compounding the issue is social media. As someone who works from home and has small children, I love social media. It’s a lifeline, an escape, and a way to catch up with all the friends I never see because we can’t get babysitters on the same night (and even if we could we’d be obliged to go out with our husbands instead so we could talk about things other than which child gets custody of the Thor minifigure today and how many pieces of apple it’s okay to let them have before dinner).

I can give or take Facebook other than Messenger these days, but I fucking love Instagram. Presently I’m following dozens of shiny-haired American women as they redecorate their enormous, brand-new houses one elaborate built-in at a time. I love it. I’m filled with envy and deeply unsatisfied with everything about our house – but not enough to actually do any of the DIYs they share. Instead I obsessively scroll through them, saving pictures of cavernous dining rooms and enormous walk-in wardrobes and feeling an itchy sense of loathing about my actual surroundings. It’s great.

My point, though, is that social media has made us all boring. Already saddled with a dearth of stories due to a pesky global pandemic, any tiny scrap of interesting content has already been shared online by the time you actually speak to a friend or family member. Conversations that used to start with “wait till I tell you what happened on my way to…” now begin with “I saw your post about…”, and then both parties chortle awkwardly until someone says “but did you see the meme I posted…?”

There are no punchlines anymore; nothing to share that hasn’t already been shared.  Interesting life events are now so light on the ground we’ve collectively settled for sending the group chat a series of coloured boxes every morning and leaving it at that.

I can see two possible ways out of this predicament: go out in the world more often, or get off social media. Frankly, I don’t like either of them. Going out means paying for parking and finding my mascara, and I’ve forgotten how to tell a story in real time anyway – how do you even express emotions without gifs? What if I disappear off Facebook and all my friends forget I even exist? What if Lauren from Instagram tackles her master bathroom and I never get to see whether she goes with lacquered or unlacquered brass faucets?

Maybe it’s better to just stay boring.