It feels like a year’s worth of living has been crammed into the last two months since we left Pleasant Point.
I’d like to say it’s been a swell time, but the truth is it has been an exhausting ride to get to our new home in Wellington. I hung in there by the skin of my teeth, often counting the hours and minutes until the children started their new school.
Mr G left Pleasant Point a week before the children and I, to finish his last block course for his studies. We had a riotous celebration the day he handed in his last assignment. I simultaneously wanted to leap for joy and burn all of his textbooks, as he has been beavering away at assignments and essays for the last EIGHT years! Not having the spectre of assignments looming large over Mr G and our time as a family, feels like an enormous burden has been lifted.
We decided to depart as soon as Mr G’s internship had finished, despite there being two more weeks of school, Christmas etc – because it was imperative that Mr G got a decent break between jobs. Having your father pass away, your wife be in a serious car crash, plus a workload of several assignments does not make for a fun time. But he got through it, with his usual grace, grit and humour, and earned that holiday.
In his absence, I readied the house for moving. The movers packed everything, but I still had a list a mile long of things I needed to do before the moving trucks arrived.
We bade a tearful farewell to our friends in Pleasant Point. In the weeks leading up to our departure, the stress and anxiety started to show up in the children’s behaviour. Miss E, kept saying things like “I just got a bit of that plant in my mouth, will I die?” I don’t know why, but that’s just how her anxiety manifested.
Master D was even more argumentative and tantrumy than he usually is (he’s very strong-willed, …like his mama). He also stopped eating very much. He’s a very slender child, so it was a worry! My MiL is very wise and remembered not eating as a child herself in response to stress in her life, and I think that is true for Master D as well. Both my children are out-going extroverts who handle change pretty well, but there’s no getting around the fact that moving towns as a child is just blimmin’ hard and stressful.
We spent two weeks on the road – seeing Mr G graduate from his studies, visiting friends and seeing some of the beautiful South Island. There was a major weather event (which we missed!) that closed several main roads, and meant we had to change our route. It was disappointing, but I know we will be back that way one day.
Our road trip was a good one – our kids are good travellers, who are unphased by sleeping in different places. They had a wonderful time playing with the five children of our friends who farm near Gore. It was a beautiful thing to watch my two happily join in a triathlon that the other children were doing, and for them to experience life on a farm. Animals galore! Quad bikes! Marshmallow roasting! What’s not to like?
We spent several days chilling out at Lake Manapouri, which is just as beautiful, but less touristy and expensive than Lake Te Anau. We stayed right on the lake front, and spent most of our time outside walking and enjoying the incredible scenery. We spent a night in Queenstown. I loved nearby Arrowtown, which has retained many of its heritage buildings from New Zealand’s gold mining era.
After two weeks we were glad to put down temporary roots in our previous hometown of Whanganui. On the ferry from the South Island to the North Island, we were informed the church had rented us a house in Wellington and we could move in mid-January!
We spent several weeks in Whanganui staying at a property our friends own, which is right next to their home. Our children are a similar age, and so the five kids had the kind of nostalgic summers one only reads about. Long hours of playing with friends, uninterrupted by adults. Coming home only for food and drink and to reapply sunscreen. Friends just a fence climb away.
It was especially neat to see a firm friendship develop between my son D (5.5) and their son Z (4.5), as D went through a terrible bullying phase as a toddler. The usual object of his toddler rage was poor Z! But now they are great buds. Within three days of being back in Whanganui, among his old friends and his grandparents, I’m happy to say D resumed his normal eating patterns. E’s anxiety tapered off.
We all got sick at some point during our time in Whanganui – which is typical for us when we are exposed to different bugs in new places. I got glutened twice, which took me quite a while to recover from. I didn’t get t see everyone I wanted to – but we don’t live far away now, so there will be other opportunities!
Miss E turned 7 during our stay, and celebrated with a high tea party.
Mr G and I spent two nights away doing something fun and relaxing…jokes, we UNPACKED OUR ENTIRE HOUSE. I’m not sure how it’s possible considering all the stuff I sled/gave away/got rid of before we moved, but unpacking a house seems to get more tiring each time I do it! We wanted the children to be able to arrive at their new home with everything unpacked and ready for them.
My original plan was to return to Whanganui, where we had playdates, friends and family on tap, and stay on there for the duration of the summer holidays with E and D. Whereas many of our friends in Wellington either don’t have children, or were away or busy working/at holiday programmes. But once Mr G left so he could start his new ministry job, E’s anxiety came back. After a few days she tearfully admitted to me, “I know Daddy is okay, but my brain keeps telling me he’s dead.”
We left for our new home in Wellington the next day.
Once we were all together in our new house, she came right again. She was definitely anxious about her first day at school, but she’s had a fantastic first week there, and seems to love it. Long may that continue!
We did a few fun things before school went back (like the Weta Workshops tour, so cool!), but mostly we were just weary, worn out, cranky and tired. Living out of a suitcase for two months wasn’t much fun, and we are grateful to be settled in to our new home, and into life in Wellington. Being back in Wellington is a bit like putting on my favourite cardi that I gleefully pull out each winter – it is comforting, warm and familiar.
We received a heartfelt welcome from our new congregation. I’m sure it won’t all be unicorns and rainbows over the next few years, but I like them very much already. Mr G’s ordination ceremony was a fun occasion and he is now fully-fledged Reverend. It was a fitting conclusion to all his years of hard work.
As for me? I am taking it easy for a while. I need to have back surgery (due to my car crash), so I won’t be looking for work until that’s done. The only trouble with being back in Wellington is that I want to do ALL.THE.THINGS! There are so many shows, workshops, lectures, exhibitions, talks etc on my doorstep, that ‘taking it easy’ might be harder than it seems! I am also helping out at church, so there is plenty to keep me occupied.
Anyway, here’s to life as a Wellingtonian, again.