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“It’s moving day!” I announced a few weeks ago. I’ve said this at least 10 times in the last 15 years. There’s only one guarantee the military can give you—a list of zip codes long enough to make your own Sudoku puzzle. 

But this time, we moved by choice. It’s been exciting and terrifying and bittersweet. And it’s also been somewhat difficult to explain our reasons for uprooting our family. It makes perfect sense to us but not so much to other people. The comments have been plentiful.

“You’re moving in the middle of a pandemic? Well, aren’t you . . . brave.”

“You can’t leave the neighborhood. I won’t let you move!”

“What exactly is your plan? I don’t understand.”

“Oh my gosh. I can’t believe you’re doing this to your kids.”

We are doing this for our kids.

We are doing this to give them a semblance of normal life and a simplified home because that is what our family needs right now. 

When the world came to a screeching halt in March, we thought, Thank goodness we have a big house full of toys and games. The kids can spread out and have room to play. We can convert the dining room to the schoolroom for e-learning. This will be great!

And it was great, but not like we planned.

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Despite the huge square footage of our home, my kids all gravitated to the same space to wrestle, like a pile of puppies rolling around. They used the new schoolroom for exactly 2.3 days then decided the kitchen table was a much more suitable place to learn, as well as the kitchen island or the kitchen counters or the kitchen floor. And the kids were so happy with this arrangement.

When school was done for the year, they lived outside like their lives depended on it. We went camping every weekend and for two solid weeks in June. We found lakes and pools to go swimming. We hiked and biked and walked everywhere. Sticks, rocks, dirt, shovels, and buckets were the valued currencies of the summer. They had so much fun playing in the sun.

And the house, full of stuff, just sat there like a museum. The toys and games went untouched.

One night, as I watched my small humans form a line to wash their hands at the kitchen sink, I silently counted the number of sinks in the entire house. Twelve. We had 12 total sinks, yet here were my children, all lined up to use this one. “You could go to the sink downstairs or upstairs or even in the garage,” I suggested. Nope. No thanks, Mom. We like this one. 

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In a pandemic-centered world, our kids were being pulled to simplicity. They liked being together rather than interacting with peers through a computer screen. They loved being outside despite playgrounds being closed. Although they couldn’t articulate it, these were the things that gave them peace amid the chaos.

Simplicity gave us all peace. 

Then August came and my youngest begged me to not send him back to Zoom school. His siblings immediately echoed this request.

So, we had a big garage sale. We donated carloads of clothes, furniture, toys, and housewares to churches and thrift stores. We sold our 5-bedroom, 4-bath house in a week. We bought a 1920s bungalow in a rural community just 30 minutes down the road. A local moving company arrived with a single, box truck to pack up our remaining items. An 18-wheeler was needed the day we moved in three years ago. We felt like pioneers heading down the trail with just the essentials in our covered wagon. And it was great.

The new house is small. There are two sinks. (Three if you count the wash-tub style one in the basement.) The yard is big. We can walk to a nearby park. The town is tight-knit, and the days are full. 

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We enrolled the kids in school and are watching them thrive in their in-person classes where precautions are in place and the students, so far, are doing very well. We are letting them enjoy a community that is committed to being safe while also keeping businesses open and continuing day-to-day activities.

The kids are loving this new environment. And so are we. 

We biked to the library yesterday and–with masks on–went inside like it was a normal Wednesday afternoon. “We haven’t been in a library since February,” one of my twins whispered as he eyed the Harry Potter section. “This is great!”

Yes, it definitely is. I know the comments will keep coming. I know some people will think we have been foolish, but we are blessed and happy with our decision. For the well-being of my family, moving is what we needed to do.

Alexis Linehan

Alexis is an occupational therapist, the wife of a National Guard helicopter pilot, and the mama to four very energetic small humans. The military life has taken them to different states and through several deployments, but they currently call Nebraska home. Alexis enjoys cantoring at Mass, going on camping adventures with her family, and reading anything (and everything) under the sun. She volunteers for the National Guard Family Readiness and is a contributing writer at The Military Mom Collective. You can follow her on Facebook at This End Up in Life.

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