Moving houses is a grueling undertaking in and of itself, but if you add in four children and eight years of having lived in the same house, it’s enough to make a mom throw up her hands and beg for mercy. At least it has had me on my knees or curled in the fetal position in my closet, depending on the events du jour. Getting everything out of the old house, dividing them up between the trash, donations and keep piles, and then shuttling it to all of the designated locations, all while dragging four unwilling kids with you is a lot like what I’d imagine having glass picked out of your eyeball with a razor to be like.
These are the eight stages of moving for moms:
1. Blissful Denial
In this early stage of relocation, the mom believes things like “it won’t be that bad” or that having constantly purged the house of unnecessary things for the previous months will actually make a difference in the hellishness of what she is about to undertake. She has lofty ideas about the easiness with which she will organize her family’s belongings into color-coordinated containers and that everything will be relocated to its new home with orderly ease. Although the pain is about to rock her socks off, she has delusions of selling unwanted items in a yard sale.
2. Twinges of Doubt
As the mom begins to sort the contents of her home, she realizes that a) 50 boxes will not hold all the items her family has amassed; b) the packing will not, in fact, be finished in three days; c) she’s the only one packing, but that’s okay because she knows that it will be done correctly and that she will know where everything is located at the great deluge of unpacking. Thoughts of a yard sale are abandoned at this point, because her waning energy is overriding the potential for earning cash.
3. Rejection of Materialism
This is also known as the “Goodwill is about to hit pay dirt” stage. The mom will now throw one-third of her belongings and two-thirds of everyone else’s stuff—everything she thought she’d keep—into the charity pile. The children will rifle through these piles like they are saving victims of a disaster from mountains of rubble. They will profess their undying love for toys they haven’t seen in two years, shame the mom for daring to give it away, and promptly drop the rescued toy across the room only moments later. The mom will be forced to retrieve the now-forgotten toy and bury it within the pile to prevent secondary rescue attempts.
4. Loss of Hope
At this point, tears will be shed as the mom reaches a level of despondency usually only seen in politicians that have lost a race. She sees little progress in de-cluttering and organizing, despite her tireless attempts to tackle the beast of relocation. This poor, bedraggled woman will drink wine and kick stray items across the room while her children recreate Lord of the Flies.
5. Renewed Strength and Vigor
Finally, after days of work, progress is semi-measurable, so the mom will load her pack of child heathens into her filthy SUV, along with 17 bags of donations to be dropped off at Goodwill. After a charitable deposit of goods, she buys the car’s occupants celebratory ice cream and heads back to work like a good girl. Helen Reddy singing, “I am woman, hear me roar,” may or may not be playing in the car.
6. Holy Crap
The mom walks in to her stomping grounds of pain and realizes that she has way more left to accomplish than she thought before charity drop-off…and that she has yet to touch the Bermuda triangle of the man cave or the attic. As she clutches her garbage bags of power, she sets to work scooping up everything and throwing it into unmarked garbage bags. She no longer cares if it gets donated or is thrown away, as long as it disappears from her house and life. Right now. The formerly savage children back away in horror after they see the maniacal look on her focused face and scatter to other rooms of the house. Sorting out the socks and screwdrivers from the menagerie of stuffed animals can happen at a later time, unless she just sends all of the bags to the city dump.
7. Head ‘Em Up, Move ‘Em Out
At last, all boxes and furniture are packed and ready to be delivered to the new house. The movers pack the moving van full of furniture, as the mom smiles, thinking her work is complete, until she is informed that only half of the boxes will fit in the truck. Bravely she loads up the first of 15 trips that it will take to shuttle the remaining boxes to the new home that’s 25 miles away. Her loudly complaining children serve as an appropriate soundtrack for these hellish back-and-forth trips.
8. Where Is It?!
Now that all of the boxes and furniture have arrived, the mom stares in shock, feeling mildly defeated as she looks at the mountains of boxes she must now unpack. Almost immediately, children begin begging for certain items that they need right now. After realizing that this job will likely take weeks, the mom sends the hyena-like kids outside to play and pours herself a drink. She vows to never move again, and has a deeper appreciation of nomads and gypsies.
If you are currently fighting the battles of moving, or know someone who is swimming against its typhoon-like current, know that it doesn’t last forever, and that you gave birth for a reason: Make them help! Even if they don’t actually help you load and unload, the threat of having to do such work should keep them far away so that you can actually get something done without them underfoot.