Last month, my family and I moved again. We’ve moved a number of times, so you’d think that we would be old pros, able to easily navigate the ups and downs of moving. This time, however, things were very different. This time, I was moving not as part of a team of two married people, but as a single person with children.
Two years ago, my husband came home and told me that he did not love me anymore. Things were touch and go for a few months, but it became evident all too quickly that our marriage was over, and I was going to have to adjust to being a single mom of two adolescent boys. We were divorced just about a year ago, so since then I’ve learned how to change the oil in my car, prepare my taxes, discipline my son when he came home with low Algebra grade, and fix slow shower drains. But none of them compared to moving.
In a different life, I could have hired people to do the hard work of the move for me, but in my world I have little disposable income and we were only moving across town, so it seemed a little excessive even if I were more flush with cash. That meant that it was my guys and me who were going to do the majority of the work. My two children are both adolescent boys who are strong and able to help with a move. But before I go too far down the boys-as-helpful-moving-companions road, there’s also the teenage-prickly road which reared its head during the move as well- it was the last month of school on top of everything and my guys had exams to study for. Plus, the weekend of moving was their father’s weekend, not mine. I was on my own.
At first, I didn’t even know where to begin. My best friends were out of town, other friends were busy for the weekend, still others had graduation ceremonies or other obligations. I began where I could, with my books. During the week before the move, my guys and I packed 59 boxes of books and came up with a plan. We’d move the books and the kitchen before Saturday morning, and then work hard to get help on Saturday so I could then serve on Sunday at church (and go to the 30th anniversary celebration the evening before).
Against my better judgment, I put my need of help on Facebook and allowed my boss to spread the word that I needed help. As usual things did not go my way; they went better. The night we got our key, a friend from my guys’ school and his mom dropped by to help. An hour later, most of the 59 boxes of book were moved. The next evening, two friends helped finish the books. Exhausted as we were, my guys and I worked most of Friday, finishing the kitchen and beginnning to move beds and other furniture. A parent of one of my students brought pizza by and lent his van for a couple hours. A parishioner and his son packed his pick-up full of our furniture, and by Saturday late afternoon, everything was finished.
Altogether, more than 25 people helped me move. I wouldn’t say that the experience was easy, but it is a hallmark of the new, unmarried, divorced me. The old me, the married me, would have never asked for help. I would not have accepted the help of the woman who went to the church where I used to work. I would not have asked church people to help me. I would have felt beholden to these folks who spent their Saturdays and their evenings helping me move. I’d have been embarrassed that I needed help. But the new me has changed a bit. Now, there are things I can’t do with just my guys, and even more importantly, I’m alright with that. I would help other people if they needed it, and in this situation, I was the recipient of a whole lot of grace, and much of it came from very unlikely sources. Was this experience a good one? I don’t know. Ask me in six months, or maybe on the night of the party I’m going to throw for all the friends who helped us move.
photo by Geoffrey Kehrig, http://www.flickr.com/photos/looking_and_learning/ . Used by Creative Commons License.