The Problem with Children

I was asked by my esteemed online editors to write a blog about the experience of moving, one of those off-the-stress chart experiences I am currently in the middle of. As in, I have been living in an apartment in Texas and “commuting” home to New York every other weekend to see my husband and kids, which has been hard—not to mention hideously expensive—on all of us.

Now our NY house is rented, a Texas home is leased, the school year is over and all our plans have been hatched. I moved my apartment stuff into the house last week; then, I retrieved my two kids and our cat and flew them to the house. Now, the moving van empties out 18 years worth of the stuff of family life and finally, my husband flies down to join us. The plot thickens and, on paper, nears resolution.

The problem is the children. Or more accurately, that I love my children, and though personal growth has been a priority my entire adult life, I will never, ever be able to have a Zen attitude towards my kids. Never will I be able to say to myself:

Maybe my kids will like their new lives in Texas, maybe they won’t, but things happen for a reason and it all works out.

I mean, I DO think things happen for a reason, and I DO think things will work out. But my love overwhelms all of that. The house needs repairs and it’s not unpacked and there’s no Internet and I am fretting about bringing Nick and Darcy into this chaos. More importantly, I’m uprooting my son from the home he has lived in all his life; he just finished the all-important junior year in high school. I am putting him in a new school in a new state for his last year….he won’t graduate with his lifelong friends, won’t celebrate with them.

As for my daughter, she has two close friends in New York; she is shy, hates parties, thinks movies are too loud and so refuses to go, and is a total homebody. But she has those two friends who mean the world to her. One of the girls made Darcy a going-away present: she hand-stitched a heart onto a blanket and embroidered “Jenna & Darcy: BFF” onto the heart. Darcy carries the blanket around like she’s Linus and the move hasn’t even happened yet. She’s only 8. She has nightmares. She’s terrified of spiders. She needs me, desperately, and this 10 months of separation has been wrenching. We’ll be together, thank God—but I’m also bringing grief and loss into her life.

They say if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. I would say that a bit differently. If Mama’s kids ain’t happy, Mama ain’t happy. Can’t be. Just not possible. Is it even healthy to think about evolving to the point where your own happiness is not tied to your children’s? I don’t know. What do you think? And is it different for mothers and fathers? Share with me.


Susan Kane is former editor in chief of SUCCESS. She relocated from New York City, where she was editor of publications such as Parenting and New Woman.

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