SO, that's it. The end is nigh. We have exchanged, the move is happening and we are facing the very last days of living in London before completion.
I don't know where to begin. I am all over the place emotionally. It's a bit like when you know you have to break up with someone even though you really love them, but you have to go ahead and go through the heartbreak as you know it's for the best. I don't particularly have strong feelings for the structure of my house or any of its features but I have loved our life here (on the whole - obvs the rat in the loo and various periods of time in severe penury weren't particularly enjoyable), but it is the centre of our world. Bea was six months old when we completed on this house ten years ago (almost to the day), two of my babies were born in the house, four of them were conceived here (TMI?), it is the only home any of them have ever known and most of our lives revolve around this place and the surrounding streets. I can't realistically imagine calling anywhere else 'home'. The new baby will be born and raised in Suffolk and have no idea of our former London life. Cybs also won't remember any of the life Bea and G have enjoyed here for almost a decade. It is so odd to think about it. I was fortunate enough to never move as a child, mum still lives in the only family home I have ever known, so to me this feels like a massive upheaval for them and for me.
It's not that I don't want to move, I am desperate to do so, but I want
to move and stay here at the same time. Ideally I'd like to have kept
this house and move as well but that was obviously never an option. As you know, we haven't always had the easiest of times with money. This last year hasn't been that great and it is just not at all fun. I don't know who on earth thought that money doesn't buy you happiness, they are entirely wrong. Maybe someone with money said it. Living in fear of not having any money is terrifically dull. It dominates everything and makes your decisions for you. It limits your options considerably and makes you feel very vulnerable, particularly when you have children. With this in mind, we decided to be very sensible and went for a slightly smaller and less grand house than my original plans for a 'forever' home, but it will still fit us all in and there is room for improvement and extension for our growing brood. The important things are that it has a nice big kitchen, a garden big enough to play in, a drive to rollerskate on and a school nearby. AND its main advantage is that it is marvellously cheap. (In comparison to our London house I mean, it's not a fiver or anything). So, it means that we will finally have something that I believe 'normal' people call 'disposable income'. We may even finally get on a plane with our brood for a foreign holiday which they are quite desperate to do. (Not that I am keen after all the recent air disasters and the price of buying six passports - K is currently the only person equipped to leave the country. A fact he has mentioned once or twice as an advantage....)
I am quite scared of doing things like taking a flight. I have a feeling that we weren't meant to have money. It somehow feels as if we are going against the universe's plans for us and I do worry we may feel its wrath in penance. I have a recurring hideous thought that a great tragedy will befall us soon after we move and I can envisage the front pages of the newspapers with pictures of our smiling faces beaming out with headlines screaming of a family who left the perils of life in the wilds of South East London for the safety and tranquillity of the Suffolk countryside, only to be murdered in their beds/burnt alive/mown down by a tractor. That kind of thing. Or, we all die in a hideous pile up on the motorway now that we have to use it far more often. The car pile up thing is actually the fault of the Speed Awareness Course I was forced to attend after being caught on the way back from my first visit to the house (initially I thought this was a really bad 'sign' but then I found lots of other, more positive 'signs' like the owners having a cat called Keith and decided to go for it anyway). They are quite hot on the whole speeding thing in Suffolk. Another thing I will have to get used to. Although the fact that I am still terrifically haunted by what they showed me on the course should help.....
I will have to get very used to spending a large amount of time in the car from now on. We can't walk to the children's new schools (I will explain at a later date but they can't all go to the local school at the moment...) so we have done our final school run on foot for many years to come. I can't say I'm upset. Not only is it a lot easier to drive than to push a buggy when you are carrying another heavy human and its various add ons inside you, but it also means we don't have to dodge the urine trails, vomit and various poo we usually encounter on our daily commute to their London school. I had the 'final' day all planned in my head. Our final morning school run was going to be jovial and calm, the pick up was going to be emotional and there would be much time spent in the playground as the children and I bid farewell to all our friends. It didn't turn out at all that way. The children didn't get ready in time, I ended up shouting, there were fights over the bags of sweets I'd arranged for them to give out to their classmates, Ted left his bookbag at home with his farewell cards inside and we all ended up at the school gates in bad moods. I tried to turn it around in the final few minutes before they left me, with cuddles and kisses, wishing them a lovely last day etc but it didn't help. Annoyingly I was more angry that they had ruined 'my' final school run. My last wait in the playground and my last chance to chat to the mothers I had spoken to every morning for years. As Ted was finally ushered in by his teacher with a face of thunder it suddenly hit me. Right as someone was saying their final goodbye to me. I started to well up.
Crying in public is a real no no for me. I don't really like to show emotion. I am fairly traditionally British in that way. Obviously I will happily show anger when provoked but crying is really not something I am at all comfortable with. I don't like other people crying either. It's not that I am cross with them but I would like them to stop, for their sake as well as to ease my own discomfort. I will obviously be sympathetic to start but then I will try and lighten the mood with humour as soon as is appropriate. I don't want people to feel the same discomfort as I do which is why I hate people seeing me cry. Luckily, I am able to bury painful emotions and act as if nothing is happening so that is what I did to spare anyone's blushes. After those few tears on Friday morning I haven't shed a tear about my departure. I have done the final farewells in the playground, said goodbye to my closest friends - both individually and en masse at my goodbye night out, I have seen the children bid sad goodbyes to their best friends and walked the well worn path to the school I've been going to for five years for the last time without even a lump in my throat. Fizzy alcohol has helped. I know it's not good to use drink to stop feeling unpleasant emotions, or to drink (in moderation) whilst pregnant, but seriously, I don't care. It has worked. No one has felt uncomfortable. If I can't stop snivelling and snotting and weeping when we finally say goodbye to our happy family home then only the children and K will suffer and K is incredibly used to it.
Even though we are literally about to leave I still can't quite believe it is happening. Although I have been going through the motions of finding schools, doctors, midwives, moving utilities and stressing over exchanges and removals people, I have also been assuming that at any moment it would all fall through and we would go back to our 'normal' life. What makes it more surreal is that we are having a full packing service -
obviously we needed it with me being pretty pregnant and fairly
immobile already - but because of this the house has no idea what is
coming. We are living in it as if nothing is happening. Dirty washing is still going in the basket, ketchup is still going back in the cupboard and the floors are still littered with things that should be somewhere else. It is entirely 'normal'. Only very soon the children and I are going to walk out with our suitcases of clothes and a few special toys and most importantly their flipping ipads/kindles and never walk back through the door. I
am taking the children and running away to mother's before the packers arrive so I can pretend
nothing is happening. And to enable the packers to get on with their ninja like packing work without tripping over children or having to deal with an angry Cybs who might assume they are stealing her books (the most important thing to her - they all had a box to pack and hers is entirely filled with story books) and clothes and toys. K is staying on to oversee the packing and completion and then coming up afterwards. It won't feel like we have finally left London for a while I don't think. I won't get to see the empty house, or hand over the keys or anything that might feel like 'closure'. The children and I will just get in the car and go to Grandma's for our usual country break and never come back. Well. Not to live. We will of course visit frequently.
For a person who doesn't like change or uncertainty, this is pretty much a nightmare for me. I know it will all be worth it in the end and eventually it will all begin to feel 'normal', but for now I am much like the children, varying between utter excitement and total panic. Right now I shall ignore the rising fear and spend time trying to think about what on earth I should now call my blog. In hindsight a geographically specific name wasn't a good idea. The new postcode is IP30 but it doesn't quite have the same ring to it. I will forever be grateful to the wonderful SE23 (and its close postcode neighbours) and to all the magnificent people who live within it to whom I have become incredibly close and who have become so very important to me. I don't 'do' emotion, but if I did, I would be balling my eyes out at the thought of no longer having them near me and how on earth I can live without them.
There is little more to be said. We need to get ready, get on and ship out. This house needs some tidier residents to inhabit it. I shall of course keep you informed and updated on all my trials and tribulations of suddenly being a new country mother. Until then lovely ones. Wish me luck.