Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Moved to Tears

Got a new essay in the Park Slope Reader called Moved to Tears which I thought you readers might enjoy. If you're too darn lazy to click on the link, just read it below.

By Nicole Caccavo Kear

Moving! What could be more exciting? A blank slate awaits! You arrange your old furniture in a new and improved configuration, find uses for things you'd deemed unnecessary, get rid of the crap that really is unnecessary and perhaps best of all, discover all those missing pieces to chess sets, puzzles, Lego creations and sock pairs.

Yes, the flood of satisfaction I feel when I find a missing puzzle piece, and can stamp "Case Closed" on that particular mystery, thus releasing Saint Anthony from his bondage, that satisfaction almost makes moving worth it.

Almost, but not quite. Because when you are moving, particularly with two little children in tow, perks like being reunited with lost earrings are short-lived. Sure, you could linger to enjoy these little victories...or you could slip into a three month-long anxiety attack. You could transform into a harpie hag, wildly berating your husband for not bringing home more packing tape, beseeching your children to "GIVE YOU A BREAK, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY!" and fainting - that's right, fainting - in the middle of packing your china (never, for the record, cracking a plate).;

Yes, I recently moved - for the first time since Primo and Seconda were born. And it nearly moved me to madness.

Before you have kids, packing is annoying and tedious but you can get it done: you just put other responsibilities on hold and hunker down. When you have a 2 and 4 year-old at home, this is not really an option. It helps to order in and let the kids watch near-toxic amounts of TV but you can streamline only so much. You can not, for instance, tell your kids "Change your own diaper!" and "Read your own books!" and "Take yourself to the playground!"

The other challenge that young children pose to packing is the fact that a toddler's greatest joy is to unpack boxes. To the extent that a smart entrepreneur could start an unpacking business staffed entirely with 2 year-olds. I can't tell you how many times I labored over a box - placing items carefully in so that all objects were protected and every inch of the box was used to its fullest potential - and when I turned around for a minute to grab the packing tape, Seconda would dart in like a ninja and fling the items all over the room.

Moving with children also means that you have to confront your conspicuous consumerism, particularly as it relates to the insane amounts of crap your kids own, all of which they find utterly indispensable and which they want to be able to retrieve at a moment's notice. If you think arguing with a spouse over what to keep and what to toss is tough, try negotiating with a 4 year-old. When I asked Primo if we could perhaps discard a shoebox full of acorns, he was shocked and chagrined.

"Not my LUCKY ACORN COLLECTION!!!!" he shrieked, "I'll never find a hundred lucky acorns like that again!"

And even after you've conceded to take along the stuffed animals they haven't played with in three years and the dozen empty toilet paper rolls that have suddenly acquired special meaning, the trouble is not behind you. Because as soon as you pack something and shove the box somewhere in a teetering pile of boxes, you child will experience a desperate need for the exact item you have just packed.

"Where is my GREEN MARBLE???" Primo would yell, and heaven help the poor soul who did not think to label that particular box "Toys, including one green marble."

The night before the move was, without a doubt, the worst. I'm not proud of the things I said that night but I do maintain that when I said them I was under the influence of moving.

We shipped the children off to my parents' for a weekend of non-stop fun (or if not fun, at least non-stop guardianship) and David and I packed like fiends. Emphasis on "I" and on "fiends." I morphed into a mini Mephistopheles, with an insatiable appetite for packing tape. Besides the occasional string of hardcore, multi-syllabic expletives, I spoke only to bark directions like "More tape!" and "Hurry!" and frequently, "WHERE'S MY SHARPIE?" As the hours passed, my impeccably-filled boxes became haphazard, desperate. I threw my meat tenderizer in my Uggs and stacked those on top of David's CDs and threw in a handful of stray bath toys on top. Sec's potty went in with the toaster which went in with my wedding album.

You know your packing has reached the point of no return when you trash things that you love, treasure even, because the thought of finding a box to put them is literally nauseating.

"What about this?" David asked, pointing to our blender, which I'd lugged home on the subway at 39 weeks pregnant with visions of postpartum smoothie-making dancing in my head.

"Too heavy!" I snapped, "Garbage!"

"And this?" he asked, holding the kids' autographed copy of Babar.

"Already packed the books!" I panted, "Books done. Garbage!"

When I told him to throw out my favorite childhood cup, he deemed me unfit to pack and sent me to bed where I stayed awake for over an hour, yelling orders at him.

Miraculously, when the movers came the next morning we were more or less ready and in three hours, we had changed homes. When my parents dropped the kids off the next morning, Primo and Seconda found their bedroom fully furnished, with ogre-green walls, outer space nightlights and Trofasts filled to the brim with lucky acorns, superfluous stuffed animals and one very precious green marble.

Slowly, my devil horns shrunk until you couldn't see them at all. My shoulders eased down from their position next to my ears. My furrowed brow softened and my craggy haggy voice began to resemble a human's again. By the time the cable man came to hook up the Tivo, I was my happy, perky self again. Happier and more perky in fact, because now I have a dishwasher and an elevator and more electrical outlets in the living room. And all the pieces to every single puzzle.