Monday 7 December 2009

Keeping the space free

Husband and I sat down yesterday and made a list of all the things we still have to do to make our move to Moscow happen in just over one month's time. Bugger, there's a lot of stuff on it. Throughout this planning process I found myself fighting back the stress-yawns that any type of house-move always prompts from me (it appears my 'fight or flight' instinct is in fact a 'fight or stay on the spot and take a quick nap' instinct), and I have to admit that it did occur to me - more than once - to wonder; 'Why are we doing this, again?'

I know too that this is a question that friends and family ask themselves privately - and not so privately, on occasion. I mean, we could just maintain the status quo; Husband flying backwards and forwards every week, the Boys and I safely ensconsced in London and just seeing him for 2 - 3 days every weekend. I could continue to hold the fort on the home-front whilst my beloved brings home the Russian bacon.

But that would be wrong on so many different levels, I can't contemplate it. Manic though the next few weeks are going to be, we can't continue as we are doing. Not only because it is important for our sons that they get more time with their father (and for our marriage that their parents get to spend time together too), or that the constant travelling - for him - and solo parenting - for me -is exhausting both of us, or even that moving to Moscow going to be a great adventure in our otherwise staid and middle-class life. No, the problem with leading life like this is, I've found, that when one parent is gone for a significant amount of time - in this case, approx 75% of the week, every week - it creates a vacuum.

All the e-mails, skype and telephone calls in the world can't hide the fact that there is a Husband-shaped hole in our family when he's not here, in London, with us.

That's bad enough, of course. But I'm aware - both from my own experience, and from that of friends who've found themselves in similar situations - that what happens subsequently, as the absences become more common-place than exceptional, is almost worse. The longer the situation continues the smaller that hole becomes, because as they say; Nature abhors a vacuum. So what happens is that the family left behind starts to expand to fill that hole. It's a coping mechanism, and there's nothing wrong with that. Except, of course, that in this instance the partner who is absent comes back every weekend, expecting to find the same space they left behind empty, open and waiting for them.

I recognise this. He recognises this. And we both recognise that it is not a long-term recipe for healthy relationship. So we're moving to Moscow.

On the plus side, every single thing that we ever thought 'I must get round to that someday / I must throw out / I must organise' is going to be sorted in the process. And I'm anally retentive enough to be quite excited about that...


  1. You must go. You will never regret it. It might be mad, bizarre, crazy and difficult at times (trust me, I know all about this) but it is such an experience and you won't have that moment when you think - 10 years have just disappeared, and I'm still doing exactly the same thing that i always did.

    Besides, if it doesn't work then you can always come back.

    Packing up the house is no fun though. Especially over Christmas! How are you still able to blog? Good luck with it all, I feel your pain. x

  2. This is your and your families life, you are doing what is right for you and yours at this specific time.

    Other people would do well to mind their own business and manners some time!!

    It must be so hard living apart for that amount of time and I couldnt do it.

    I think you do what you need to so that you all survive, enjoy your adventure and I can not wait to here about life in Russia

  3. Good luck on your giant adventure! London will always be here. Always is.

  4. You're right. And yoohoo on the reorganising!

  5. We've just done an 18 month stint of my man home only at weekends.... well most weekends. It's hard work. I agree with your reasoning totally. If he were to be stationed for that amount of time again, we would def' be going with him. Wishing you lots of luck xx

  6. you are right pm. dig is gone for stretches of time. we get on without him because we have to. when he comes home there is literally nowhere for him to go in the entire house. we have to work hard at bringing him back into the community, and that is never achieved without disruption. not good. but with your decision, you are definitely doing the right thing!

  7. I can completely empathise with this. My husband works away for extended periods of time - currently six weeks - leaving me at home with three young children. Like you say, it's hard for everyone and you do begin to adapt in a way that is not positive for family life.

    I can also understand how you are feeling about moving. I gave up my career to travel with my husband and lived in Kyrgyzstan with my first baby. It was mad and crazy and scary at times but a great adventure that I am so happy I have had. Now back home I do sometimes crave the adventure of those travelling days - although I'm about to take three children to Bangladesh to see their dad so that should help fill the gap!

    There are some down sides to being an expat though so you have to expect that too; missing things like family occasions at home and struggling with language every day, etc.

    I won't fill up your comments box but I can give you some good book recommendations if you are into that (not that you'll have much time to read over the next month!) and is a great website. Have fun - and enjoy the purge of your things, always the most satisfying bonus of moving around!

  8. Wow ! I'm impressed you're packing up and still able to blog

    I hope you have a brilliant time and the move is stress free - its going to be a great thing for you to do as a family

  9. You are definitely making the right move. It's not right to be apart like that (and it must be amazingly hard work - I've just spent 4 days on my own and am exhausted!). Whatever else, it will be an adventure and I am sure you will never regret it. Good luck with the packing - you sound relatively calm, I'm sure I was going spare by this point.....

  10. Brit, I am SO in denial over the packing. in fact, what packing?

    MH, thanks for the support!

    Kim, I know it - which is why I'm OK to go...

    Mwa, not sure I think 'yoohoo' yet, but I will when we shut the door and leave for the airport!

    Claire, thankyou. I know it's the right thing for all of us - I just a fairy godmother (or alternatively some big corporate entity) would wave a wand and make it happen. Sadly, though, it's just us.

    Thanks Grit - I knew you would get it!

    M&A, thanks - and also for the email which I will reply to asap!

    MaM - finding time to blog is the only thing keeping me sane...

    NVG, as I said to Brit, packing? What packing? I'm in the middle of a river in Africa, I'm afraid...

  11. PM, I can completely relate to that - Husband studies most evenings and weekends, has done for the last two years and will do for the next year. If I could transport the entire family to the library I would. You must go, and of course write us lots of lovely posts to keep us updated! I can't wait to read all about it, are you reading Nappy Valley and her move to NY? I figure there'll be many more strange stories coming your end. Best of luck x

  12. Hm yes, I've been cogitating the Husband-commuting option. It doesn't look great, I have to say.

  13. You're very right about the husband shaped hole getting filled up. I have personal experience with this and it is not a good situation. There should always be plenty of room for the husband/father and you're right about moving where he is.

  14. Yhe good thing about hellish packing and moving experiences is that then you are there and all the hellish packing and moving experiences are over. you could be weeks into Moscow before it all wears off.

    Think of the snow. How cool will that be?

  15. You are doing the right thing PM. A husband/Daddy shaped hole in your lives is so not a good thing in the long term. Yes, there is a whole lot of upheaval and stress at the moment but it will all be worth it in the end.

  16. I think you'll love it. And I really envy you all the life-laundering (yes, I know it's sad).


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