When I tell people I’m moving to Las Vegas the most enthusiastic responses include “at least there’s no snow there”, and, “Target!”
To be fair, no one can be faulted for struggling to find positives about moving to a place where guns are legal and openly carried and the public schools’ quality ranking hovers around 46 out of 50 states. And when you include Vegas’ reputation as “sin city” it all adds up to being a really …. interesting place to raise kids.
When my husband accepted the job, the plan was for everyone else to stay put here in Canada and adjust to life with daddy as a monthly visitor. Vegas was to be daddy’s home for the next little while and a fun place to visit. Schools, jobs, property, family, friends, general convenience and practicality made this the best decision.
But in the process of selling this to our daughters, they decided they wanted in. Year-round swimming pools, sunshine, shopping and horseback riding? Sign us up!
As a mother I know I was supposed to be thrilled and proud that I’d taught my daughters to seek adventure, embrace change and be risk-takers, to value family togetherness over everything. I know I should have been happy but instead, I was terrified because my excuse for not giving up my job and my home and my friends and family, had been the kids. I’d been hiding behind what I assumed would be their reluctance to move, and now I was screwed. My own fears about leaving everything and everyone I know and care about had been resting on a naïve belief that my kids would support this decision.
Well played, guys.
Sure, there are lots of positives to the move: the weather and the many opportunities for retail therapy chief among them. Not being able to work means more time to myself, time to explore the area and to work on previously abandoned or long imagined projects. This move means change and adventure, which I’ve always loved and thrived on. It’s an opportunity to teach my kids how to make new friends, adjust to new situations and to embrace the uncertain.
But it’s also a gut punch and a reminder that as mothers, we are never really out of the woods in terms of having to drop everything for our families. It’s a reminder that many of us wear two hats: one that happily does the mothering and one that wonders when we can get a bit of our own lives back.
I know, I know, I’m supposed to embrace this time when they’re young and they need me and want to be around me, and I really do. I love that my girls spend most of their time at home with me. I love having them close and always knowing where they are and who they’re with.
But I also loved the life I was building that let me pull away a tiny bit, to come home at five o’clock instead of racing to beat the three o’clock school bell. Moving away doesn’t mean this growth stops, but it means I have to do it alongside finding a new school, grocery store, veterinarian, library, wine shop, friends, gym, car, etc. First world problems, yes, but I won’t apologize for feeling a little grumpy and overwhelmed.
Our move (scheduled to take place in December) has been the biggest smack in the face motherhood has ever given me. I’ve done a lot for my kids and made many sacrifices for them, including changing jobs, working less, trading professional stature and responsibility for domestic drudgery. It didn’t come naturally or easily, but I did it because it’s what needed to be done to make our house and family run.
But this? This is off the charts. This is life calling my bluff in a very significant way because a move to the U.S. obviously trumps (ha, see what I did there?) going down to part-time hours or taking on additional chores: this is moving to a place with a serious gun problem and a lunatic at the helm; a place where I don’t know anyone and the only certainty is that I am wholly unsuited to a lifestyle where parties begin four hours after I’ve gone to bed and drinks cost more than a large pizza. And don’t even get me started on ketchup chips, real maple syrup and clamato juice.
The only time I went to Las Vegas I spent the entire trip hiding inside complaining about the heat, the recycled air, the noise and how much everything cost. (Yes, I am a LOT of fun at parties.) After four days I collapsed in my airplane seat clutching a giant bottle of water ($9) and thinking ‘Ugh. I will never come back here.’
Well played, life.
There are so many reasons this move is complicated and difficult. So many reasons to say ‘nope, not doing it’, especially when I was just starting to feel like me again, like Jen and not just someone’s mom or wife. I was starting to feel like I had more control over my personal and individual circumstances, that I was no longer clinging to the rails of the proverbial family ship waiting for someone else to determine what happens next. I worked hard to develop an identity outside my immediate family, and this feels like a major step backwards.
But, like I tell my girls, there are two choices in life: regular or extra crispy. Wait no, I mean the other two choices: move on or stay stuck. So I’m only going to let myself sulk for a little while longer before I get up off the floor and get on with it.
I mean, at least it’s a dry heat, right?