You may have noticed things have been very quiet around here lately. In fact it’s been over a month since I put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard to be more accurate, but I have a legitimate excuse for my lack of written musings. I’ve been embarking on the massive journey of offloading everything we own and moving my family across Australia. Sounds simple enough right? Well it’s been two months of immense stress and hard work. If anyone ever said moving was easy, they are one vehicle short of a convoy.
Corny analogies aside, it was a great adventure and bonding experience with my 13-
-old daughter and it makes for one heck of a Mum Life Story. So were to begin? Well we’ll just say that my husbands work wasn’t meeting the needs of the family in Tasmania and we decided to give Northern QLD a go, since my husbands family was there and having doting grandparents nearby offered me the exciting opportunity of more spare time to devote to my writing. So hubby hopped a plane to Townsville in search of greener pastures (work wise) and I remained to pack a house, break a lease, organize a vacate and a journey across Australia with the Tarago, trailer and kids.
Now, we have 5 children, 3 amazing teenagers and 2 little ones, the oldest of which had just turned 2. Traveling across Australia with one baby would be hard enough let alone trying to do it with two, so it was decided that Master 2 would go with his Dad and I would travel with the 13-year-old and the 10-month-old while the two 15-year-old’s stayed with good friends of ours to finish up year 10 and flying up at the end of the term.
Saying goodbye to my husband and little boy was difficult to say the least. At this stage we had no idea how long it would be before we would be reunited, as the object of the departing was to find work and save for the big move. The time apart could be as little as 6 weeks (although even that seemed like a decade when it came to separating mother and child) or as long as 5 months. The latter was a horrifying prospect that I was determined to ensure never happened.
It wasn’t long before hubby found a secure job but saving enough to get us there and move what furniture we had whilst paying two rents was a seemingly impossible task. It was looking more and more like I’d have to wait till the end of the year to see my baby again. This just wouldn’t do, and even though I’d fallen in love with my recently purchased King-sized bed, made from reclaimed wood and my shiny new kitchen and laundry appliances, I was willing to sacrifice them in order to see those baby blues and kiss those chubby cheeks all the sooner.
So, I sold pretty much everything we had and packed up our small trailer and car with what was left. I had intended to clean the house myself but time began slipping away rapidly so in-between packing, listing items for sale, conversing with buyers, breast-feeding the baby (etc, etc, etc), I had to organize a cleaner and instruct them as to what needed to be done. It was about half way through the final day (tickets on the boat to the mainland where booked for that night) that I realized I’d forgotten to renew my drivers license and it was expired, very expired, like two weeks expired.
Panic gripped my already stressed, exhausted being when I discovered that it couldn’t be done online and only at a ServiceTas centre. I instructed my older kids to watch the baby as I dashed to the car and sped into town only to come upon the realization that it was Saturday and the centre was closed. What was I going to do? I couldn’t do it online and by the time anything was open on Monday, I would have driven through one state of Australia into another, all without a valid license.
Images of myself being arrested and taken to some outback jail with my two kids crying because of the trauma, flashed before my eyes as I pulled into the McDonalds carpark and burst into tears. It was all too much, the panic of trying to get the house organized, the trailer packed, kids looked after and a dozen other things that would take way to long to include in this story, all done before we needed to be on the boat, was enough to deal with without having this seemingly impossible situation crop up. Sure, some of you are thinking ‘it’s no big deal’ but for someone who always tries to do things right, by the book, totally legit and legal and all that, Mrs Responsible, it was a hellish nightmare of Godzilla proportions that pretty much derailed me.
It took a 20 minute conversation with the hubby to calm me down and get me back on track. There was nothing I could do, I had to focus on getting to the boat so that our journey could begin. I had been looking forward to the drive, hoping it would be a fun relaxing road trip after a few strenuous weeks, but now there was a dark cloud that would be following us around, making my heart race every time I saw a police car or any car with lights perched on the roof.
After all the racing and rushing, our boat ended up being delayed by 2 hours and the wait at the terminal went from relaxing to incredibly painful as exhaustion set in. Luckily, the baby fell asleep on the drive there and remained asleep until we carried him into the tiny cabin at midnight. Thankfully babies can sleep anywhere, I wish I had the same resolve. It was one of the noisiest places I’ve ever tried to lose consciousness in, I swear we must have been right near the propellers or the engines or whatever they were. It would have been around 2.30am before sleep finally claimed me, but to say it was a restless sleep would be an understatement.The excitement of the journey ahead kept me going the following day as we scoured the decks for somewhere to eat breakfast, finally locating the eatery and getting some long awaited relaxation in before we pulled into Victoria at midday. I was grateful at this time that I had organized our itinerary so that we did no more than 6 hours of driving a day (except for one) for I knew the baby would require many stops along the way.
It was a very long, difficult, exhausting trip. We lost a trailer strap on the first day, the tarp wore out by the 4th day (Bunnings became a regular pit stop), I was pulled over once for a random breath test (thanks be to God that he did not notice my expiry date), the GPS took us into some unfenced properties on gravel roads through New South Wales (a Mother and baby cow tried to outrun us), I had some near misses with the trailer, we ate way too much junk food, we nearly ran out of petrol in the middle of nowhere, had to stop at some really dodgy places late at night to feed the screaming baby and we’d driven out of the way in order to see more of the Eastern Coastline but didn’t see a thing till we got close to our destination. This was partly because the main roads where still a bit too far from the ocean and partly because when we got to that side of Australia, it started pouring with rain. On top of all that, I picked up a head cold two days out of Townsville and began developing conjunctivitis as we drove in.
The reunion was awesome, both babies were smothered with kisses and cuddles and everyone relished the good feels that come with re-bonding with loved ones. Our bodies still bore the affects of the journey but the joy in our hearts compensated for the fatigue and sickness that threatened to steal our happiness. The following weeks were anything but restful as we struggled to make-do with three kids in a tiny caravan while we looked for a rental (going through the application process numerous times), enrolled in schools (sorting supplies, new uniforms, etc) and changed all the details you have to change when you move states. It wasn’t until we moved into a house and got settled that I could finally relax and get back to writing this blog.
So, what is the moral of this story you may ask? Well, even after all the stress of the last month, I can sit back and say with confidence that I’ve found truth in the saying ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. Once upon a time I never would have thought that I’d be able to drive all the way across Australia with a teenager and a 10-month-old without at least one other adult to help and share the driving. I was terrified of driving without a proper license, but I was not arrested and imprisoned as I feared (I did get pulled over and fined after we arrived because it seems my license wasn’t the only thing I forgot to pay, but that’s a story for another time). I survived, I conquered, I overcame and I made it! My daughter and I are closer than ever, we have many good memories of laughs and conversations and the moments that seemed awful then are already becoming funny memories of a trip that didn’t always go according to plan. I have renewed faith in my babies traveling abilities, I am proud of myself for what I accomplished and we reached the Goal we set for ourselves all those weeks ago.
This experience may not stop me from having fear about undertaking big things but it encourages me not to let that fear stop me from trying or from enjoying the journey. I know now that my ability to get through something difficult is stronger than I perceived it to be and I look forward to what may come next. I hope that all of you reading this will be encouraged to take chances, make big changes, make plans and goals and just do it, despite how hard it may seem and how much you fear not making it. You will make mistakes, you will stumble and possibly fall but it’s the getting back up and moving forward that defines your strength.
~ Jo Stewart