The change started in January. In short order, the girls’ parents were married, and only six months after I started on a new career path, so did their mom. These weren’t massive changes, functionally, but I could tell the kids felt it. A subtle shakeup to the background noise of their lives. Whistler and the Fish met those developments with excitement and an easy acceptance.
Then, less than six months later, we decided to change not just little things, but everything. We decided to move. It would mean a new house, a new neighbourhood. A new school. New friends, even as we do our best to help them maintain their old ones.
It was a rough transition time. Busy summer. Camps during the day. Not much of the stuff that made our little family special during the evenings. As we freshened up the house, repairing and painting and decorating and packing, there wasn’t a lot of time for the kind of hands-on learning and togetherness the girls have become accustomed to when we have big projects happening. We took the house they grew up in and turned it into a sanitized, staged, artificial version of the only home they’ve ever known, and then opened it to strangers.
And then, we sold it.
Meanwhile, we found another home, and realized that some our old stuff wouldn’t quite work. So furniture that had become fixtures, like the couch that we would have reading time and tickle fights and family movie nights on, went away. So we filled the strange new house with strange new things.
Throughout this rigorous (if short) process, it felt like we lost the love make share ethos. Passions weren’t pursued. Projects were put on hold. Friends and family weren’t seen. We were in a cycle of work, pack, sleep.
An adult can keep perspective relatively easily. But for the kids, it was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The constant change, the constant tearing down of the familiar for the exciting but alien new world we were building,
Then came Tuesday. The first day at a school so new that it’s still under construction. The first day they would be taking a school bus to school. New teachers, new classmates, new building, new playground, new new new new new.
Too much new. Too much change. Words I’d heard more than once since June, since we started this breakneck sprint to the beginning of this new chapter of our lives.
Accordingly, there was distrust, there were some tears, and we parents carried those tears with us for the rest of the day. Naturally, by the end of the day, things smoothed out a bit, and all in all the first day was a success.
There was one other thing I realized coming out of this day, this culmination of all the change that we’d been experiencing. There was another change that I had been taking part in that I had hardly noticed happening. In the past year, we’ve gone from an ad-hoc family to a more official one. We’ve gone from first readers to big-kid books, from Dr. Seuss to Narnia and Harry Potter, from Rebels to The Force Awakens, from helping stir in the kitchen to operating cutting boards and the stove solo. From Frozen to Hamilton, for god’s sake.
Not only that, but the girls have gone from being “the girls” to being, very distinctly and to a great magnitude, Whistler and the Fish. They still have obvious similarities, but this week, going to the new school on the new bus in the new neighbourhood from our new house, I saw clearly the differences that had developed between them.
I celebrate the differences between my daughters. As much as I’ve loved them and delighted in their growth, the fact that Whistler is asking to draw with me and spend time together in the workshop and the Fish is itching to mess with Shadowrun on the Super Nintendo and spend more time in the kitchen is great. As a family, we’re not always going to be into the same things at the same time, but we’re still always going to be finding different things to be doing together.
Different, but together. New, but familiar.
I’m okay with this change.
Okay, kids. What’s next?