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: