Ideas are great. I love how ideas find us. They CHOOSE US. And then we choose whether or not to pay attention. We either allow an idea to unfold, no matter how abstract, and sometimes we have to consider how it would impact our future. We might gather other opinions, but it’s ultimately up to that individual to turn an idea into reality. Sometimes ideas float off into the sunset never to return, and sometimes they hang around for years until we’re finally able to give it life.
The idea my husband and I had to move to New Zealand happened both ways.
The first time we thought about moving to Middle Earth was before we were parents in 2011. I actually can’t remember why at that time it was discussed, because it was one of the ideas that floated off into the sunset and wasn’t spoken of again. I remember I had just been promoted at work so it wasn’t good timing.
Little did I know, that idea was one that would hang onto us. It wasn’t a fantasy; I didn’t think anything of it. Until 2012 when my son was an infant.
My husband was self-employed at the time, and I had gone back to work as an addictions counselor and was finishing grad school. Previously, I loved my job. But now that I was a mum and there were significant changes in management, I dreaded it. Trying to sleep train an infant through all of this was a recipe for disaster. But I had to work because my family needed health insurance.
At the wee age of three months, it was a nightmare leaving my baby at daycare while I worked in a sleepless, zombie-like daze. My baby was the first one dropped off as they flipped on the lights, and the last one to be picked up because of my staff meetings. It was awful. Many of us do it, but it sucked.
He didn’t nap at daycare. Quickly he became extremely sleep deprived and unable to sleep at night. Me too. On top of that, he brought home whatever germs were going around. Me too.
Magically (divine intervention?), the idea that had floated away on the sunset, reappeared.
I remember clearly the November morning my husband came into the nursery as I readied my almost six-month-old son for daycare. I was crying, exhausted from not sleeping, boobs engorged from my son suddenly preferring a bottle to nursing, and unable to wrap my head around how my paycheck was literally only paying for us to have healthcare.
I rattled off my concerns to my equally-as-beat husband and when I was done he said, “What if we moved to New Zealand?”
I chuckled. The thought of moving NOW, with everything going on, was silly. In that moment, it was easier to let that idea float away again than to entertain another huge life change.
But it latched onto my husband. “No, I mean it. I could mention it to my contacts down there and see if anyone is hiring.”
The idea mist swirled around my red, weepy eyes and swollen chest. A move to New Zealand would mean… what? Not having to worry about healthcare because it’s subsidized, right? Maybe a more laid back, island lifestyle? No guns? Less violence?
Bopping my son on my hip, I saw that my husband was dead serious; the idea now settling between us, ready to be nurtured.
And it felt right.
“Okay, see what happens,” I said.
I didn’t put much more thought into it then as I rushed off to work, a piece of my heart still left behind in the sterile room where my son spent his days staring sleepily at a stuffed toy.
A few weeks later at Thanksgiving, the idea beckoned us to pay attention to it on the way home from a friend’s house. My husband shared he had been in touch with several people in New Zealand with a few leads. A couple of Skype interviews had been set up but I was still in disbelief that anything would come of it. I wanted it; I liked what relief would look like to not have to worry about the cost of care, among other things.
The idea wouldn’t let go of us.
I let the thought dance around me, picturing what it would look like. We spoke about my work and what I would do. I’ve always been a creative person and the one dream I never acknowledged but kept hidden was that I wanted to focus on writing. I didn’t know what sort of focus that meant but I knew it was one of those ideas that had been calling me my entire life and I’d ignored it for far too long. I just wanted to write novels. It was also a dream to be a stay-at-home mum. Leaving my little bean bag baby behind for others to take care of was pure agony. A year earlier I had supported my husband’s dream of self-employment, and now he was more than willing to support me with mine.
We pictured what it would look like to raise our son in a different country. This was a few weeks before Sandy Hook happened, but even then gun violence in America was a very serious concern. The image of him walking barefoot in the bush, learning to surf in the sea, and adopt an overall “no worries, mate” attitude was alluring.
Yep, it was official: the idea had hooked us and we weren’t going to let it go even though we knew there were many, many, MANY decisions to be made before we set sail.
And it felt right.
Up Next, Part Two: AN OFFER