If I've learned nothing else from this move, I have learned that young children probably really don't know what they want; that when they say, "I want to..." they're probably just talking; that striving to help them make the big changes they can't make for themselves so they can live out those spoken dreams is unnecessary an unappreciated. For the first time in my life, I'm not going with my regular mantra: "Change is good."
I love our new home, the crickets at night, the livestock right there in the back (and front, and side) yards. I love the rope swing and the garden. I love that the kids can now run outside and explore nature every day without having first to climb into a motorized vehicle to make their way to publicly accessible open space. But the girls, who have always been about exploring the outdoors, picking flowers, searching for wild animals of any size or description, aren't taking advantage of the new situation. If anything, they're becoming housebound by their own choosing.
Granted, it's hot out midday, tick season scared us out of the tall grass and the mysterious disappearance of a chicken has us wondering whether the wildlife is watching our every move to sharpen their hunting advantage over us, but mornings and evenings are beautiful, tick season has subsided and the only carnivores we've experienced firsthand are the plentiful coyotes which sing in the fields and hills every evening.
Both girls used to take horseback riding lessons; now neither spends much time with the horses. E had stopped the lessons a year before we moved because, she said, she was tired of riding in the arena and just wanted to "go off exploring." Last week, she told a local cowboy who enquired about her interest in riding in the local rodeo that she didn't ride "because we don't have an arena." What?!
They talked, before we moved, about building a tree house. Now that we're here, they've still get to identify a tree in which they want to build the house. They talked about what they wanted to grow in their gardens, but while V has planted some sunflowers (none of which she tended), E, my botanist and herbologist, hasn't so much as spit in the general direction of a garden.
They talked about having sheep and goats and dogs, but now realize all those animals require work. E read a book about sheep care and decided she might not want to have sheep "because so much might go wrong!" (I suppose, for the same reason, it's a good thing we didn't read "What to Expect..." before we had our first child!)
While the kids are still, apparently, adjusting, Mr. B is thriving in the new place. When we're not together building fences or fixing gates or digging trenches or otherwise repairing the rundown bits of the place, he's up on the hill working on a trail system he's building by hand. He's managing a commute which, while beautiful, eats hours of his every work day.
If I had it to do over again, would I move? I don't know. At this point, I feel like my mental health is a LOT better in this place. I feel like the opportunities for the girls to explore life are much better here. We're closer to a community with more performing arts opportunities (of which E is already taking FULL advantage). When 4H rolls around and they say, again, that they'd like to do an animal project, we'll be able to accommodate that wish. And the drawbacks of the old place remain: an airport runway extension has already brought heavier, louder planes over our old flight-path home; a new freeway offramp is on its way there, and will bring markedly increased traffic to the neighborhood. And while we were on a picture-perfect culdesac, it wasn't all it was cracked up to be in these days when people lock themselves behind closed door to play on their electronic devices or stare at the glowing tube. I miss the friends we made there (as do the girls), but each of them has come to our new place (some frequently).
Would I do it again? It's too soon to say, and too late all the same. You can never go back, so we'll forge ahead and hope the girls come out of it when the temperature drops.