I get an itch when I stay in one place for too long. I always said I wouldn’t move my kids as much as I have moved, but I never hated it. I looked forward to it. After a year or two, I thought, we have been here for too long. But I recognize that maybe it wasn’t ideal. Maybe it is a good thing to have friends you have known since you were a child, to have a mutual record of ridiculous secrets and outlandish ambitions. One of my family members recently accused me of thinking I am a perfect parent. I know I am not. Since Benjamin was born, we have lived in one apartment and four different houses, one of which was foreclosed upon. That is exactly the opposite of what I had planned. I know that moving too many times is disruptive, particularly when you have two children who need routine more than most. That is not good parenting.

We just moved again this weekend. We painted the kids’ rooms their favorite colors and we set up their rooms first. We tried to keep a routine, and they didn’t switch schools or anything. Elliott protested a little more than usual, but it was nothing like three years ago, the last time we moved, when I had to unpack everything in 24 hours just to stop the screaming. The plan is to stay here for a few years, save up, and buy a house. And then never move again. At least not for a long, long time. Moving is hard.

Still, when I think about living in one place for a very long time, I admit that it makes me feel a little panicked and even claustrophobic. I know that it is best for the kids. I know that it is probably best for me. Earlier this year, Ryan and I participated in that mindfulness study that required us to regularly sit still for a very long time and listen to our own breathing. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done, and one of the most beneficial. And I haven’t done it as much as I should since then.

My friend Michelle shared this Mark Strand poem with me last year, and all I could think was, YES.

Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.
When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.
We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.
I can and will stay in one place, but I will never stop moving. I will just move within that space.
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