My son’s first words to me when he woke up this morning were: “Mom, I want to sleep in our real house.” He uttered this sentiment while sitting amidst blankets on the floor of my parents’ living room, his toys strewn on the couch in front of him and upwards of 10 suitcases framing the room around him. We are five days away from moving from Brookline, MA to a town just north of Tel Aviv in Israel, and my son wants stability.
In the last three weeks, we have moved out of our apartment (AKA our “real house”), spent a few nights with my parents, and then flew west to not only escape the nine feet of snow in Boston, but to say goodbye to friends before we make this move. Aviv and Maya, my 3.5-year-old son and newly 2-year-old daughter, slept on planes, in cars, in cribs, in trundle beds, on hotel floors, in bed with us, and even midway through meals.
They have been total troopers, but their sentiment is true: They want to be home. The idea of home has always been a clear one for us: Wherever we are is home. That said, the actual location has been a little fuzzier. My husband, Oded, and I have lived between Brookline, Ramat HaSharon in Israel, and Chapel Hill, NC over the last six years, trying continuously to decide where our home should be. After years of back and forth, conversations, fights, questions and tears, we have decided to make Israel our home.
The question that everyone asks is what tipped the balance towards us choosing Israel. We considered everything from cost of living and weather to professional opportunities and pace of life. For us, it came down to family and friends. Oded’s entire family lives just a few blocks from each other, and the majority of his social network is spread across the surrounding neighborhoods. He wants for our children what he remembers growing up with: afternoons spent with his savta (grandmother), Shabbats with cousins, and a social life spent outdoors. It all sounds good to me except that I wish I could insert my parents, my brother, and my friends into that mix somehow. Leaving my family is the part of the equation that is hardest for me.
But what is the hardest part of the equation for Aviv and Maya? Perhaps not knowing where they will sleep next week. We are moving from one family to another, from my parents’ house to Oded’s grandmother’s three-bedroom apartment. His family has procured beds for my kids to use while Oded and I search for our own apartment, a marked improvement from the floor they currently share. My children have stayed with Savta Miriam before and she is awesome: She is up with them making breakfast, reading books, and playing games, but while this stay is temporary, we won’t be getting on a plane back to Boston anytime soon.
Yelling, kicking, biting, and general tantrums are the more emotional side effects of Aviv dealing with this transition. It is hard to discern if he is just acting his age or if his actions are in response to everything we are putting him through. There are times I wish it was age appropriate for me to kick and scream, cry without warning, or just sit in the corner by myself to “calm down.” I totally get what he is feeling. Everything is changing and neither he nor I know what is next. I don’t know where we will live, what job I will do, where my children will go to daycare, who my friends will be, or how I will survive without seeing my family on an almost daily basis. Does Aviv intuit that from me, or is he dealing with his own set of questions? Where are my trucks? Where are the rest of my magnet tiles? Will I have my same furniture in our next house? All questions that he is actually asking!
What I do know and what I try to remind Aviv (and myself!) on a daily basis is that no matter where we end up, the four of us will always be together. And the best and hardest piece of all of this is that we are leaving one side of family in Boston that will always be home for us while we begin our next home with the other side of our family.
In the meantime, I am doing my best to keep track of all of Aviv’s favorite trucks.