The house has been cleaned, de-cluttered and organized to the point of being useless. If everything is put away, how am I supposed to find it?

We are moving.

I am pregnant. Again.

I’m also not working.

It has been an eventful few months, culminating in our decision to leave the area where we’ve lived (individually and together) for 13 years.

You’ll recall my little depressive episode back in the fall. I’m being humorous, minimizing it, but it shook me terribly. A demon I thought I had under control with therapy and medication woke from its slumber with a vengeance. I landed in the ER at one point because I stood in front of our stupid Keurig coffee machine and could not remember the steps for using it. I have no idea how long I stood there, trying to remember what I came into the kitchen to do. My husband called and I couldn’t form sentences. Those commercials for anti-depressants show that little grey cloud following you around or a woman looking longingly out of a rainy window. They don’t tell you about losing all higher brain function, wanting to curl up in the fetal position and die while a doctor asks you who the president is and orders an MRI to make sure you didn’t have a stroke at the ripe old age of 35.

I made it through that incident and with therapy and medication adjustments. My husband and I took a trip to Ireland, something we had planned to do for our 5th anniversary the year before but too many other things got in the way. I love Ireland, and I think it loves me. The air makes it feel like my lungs open wider, the dampness is great for my skin (but terrible for my hair) and the music and beer make me so happy. And I love the soup and brown bread. I might open an irish soup and brown bread restaurant here in the states. I’m taking name suggestions.

My therapist and I had been working on figuring out why I had this particular break, at this particular moment in time. There were a number of stressors: kids, money, commutes, jobs, work travel. My life was out of whack and I knew it, but I was doing my best to hold it together with scotch tape and rubber bands. But I was exhausted and I was very unhappy at work. And like a cat chasing its tail the cycle just continued until I collapsed in a heap.

I was on a leave of absence from work while our trip, and getting away from the day to day provided some perspective and clarity. I resigned my position. This was not as easy as it might seem- my income was much needed. I made good money, slightly more than my husband. And where we live is very, very expensive. Two kids in daycare alone costs us almost $30,000 per year.

Between my husband’s job and some consulting work we’ve both been doing we have been able to make it work. I’ve kept the girls in school because frankly I expected to take a little time off and then find something new, perhaps a step down on the ladder but better for my work-life balance.

But then we found out I am pregnant. We were stunned. This was not planned. I had always wanted a third but the timing was near-disastrous. We walked around in a daze for a while before it sunk in. We are ultimately very excited for this baby, but I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a rough couple of days.

We’ve been talking about leaving DC for a while now (full disclosure: we live in Maryland, about a mile from the DC border. To some of you this is an important distinction) but that’s easier said than done. We bought our home at the height of the housing boom and only recently is it worth more than we paid. This is also a very difficult area to leave- the people are so smart, the schools are excellent, the cultural offerings have no equal. It is an amazing place to raise children. But that all comes at steep price in terms of cost of living and the worst traffic in the nation. My husband works 13 miles from our house, and a 90 minute commute home is relatively common.

We have friends, family, a support system here. But still we feel like we aren’t being fair to ourselves or to the girls. Providing for your family is one thing, but providing for them to point of not seeing them is another issue entirely. I don’t want them growing up thinking that work and money is everything, and that’s the message I feel they’ve been getting.

So we’re leaving. This was not easy, a decision almost a year in the making. Charlottesville is about two hours away, nestled near the Shenandoah in a pretty little pocket of Virginia. Thanks to Mr. Jefferson and UVA it is a vibrant college town with a booming wine industry. It has many of the qualities we love about DC- history, intellectualism, educational opportunities. Good restaurants, used book stores, antique shops- it’s a great small city.

Our house hits the market on Friday. With any luck we will be in Charlottesville by June. We will rent for a year, make sure this works for us, and then hopefully buy a home. Maeve will start kindergarten there, Bridget can go to a pre-school that costs 30% less than what it does up here, and we shall see what happens with my work situation and baby Gus*. I do plan to go back to work, I will truly lose my mind if I don’t, but at this point it will have to wait until fall.

So much is happening but all of it is good. I am looking forward to the change of scenery and so are the girls. Maeve is telling everyone that we are moving so we can have a house that fits a bunk bed. The baby and I will have the opportunity to explore a new place together. Bridget will have a whole new set of people she can boss around.

Change is good.

*Baby is due August 2nd, hence Gus. It is another girl, so that name probably won’t stick.

Breathe Deeply

First of all, thank you for everyone who emailed, commented, sent me messages, prayers and wishes. Your support has buoyed me during this time more than you know. 

I have learned that many of you have experienced depression, either  personally or with a friend or family member. This disease is widespread, and I take comfort in the suggestions, recommendations and kind words, especially from people I don’t even know. It is amazing.

Also, I discovered that a lot of you are in the mental health field, which is good to know 🙂

We decided to get out of town for the weekend and headed down to Charlottesville, VA. We first went there for a wedding back in August and loved it, so decided to pack up the girls and go for a change of pace. We spent Saturday at the farmers’ market, where the girls got balloon animals and face paint, I got a delicious apple and some much needed fresh air and sunshine. And also a beer. That was key. We enjoyed a lovely walk around Mr. Jefferson’s Academical Village (I like saying that) where I made a game out of saying the names of the students who live on the Lawn in a snooty voice (they have little plaques on the doors saying who lives there). Try it in your best Thurston Howell voice: “Landon Halliwell Forrester III”, “Abigail Rebecca Hainsworth”, “Willard Mitt Romney”. 

There were some kids walking a low tightrope they had strung between two trees. Maeve was fascinated. Bridget was appalled that they didn’t have shoes on and made her disapproval known by shouting “they no have shoes on!” several times. I think it was mostly out of respect that they could get away with it and she can’t- I promise you this now Bridget: when you go to college, you can take your shoes off any damn time you want.

We went to dinner and I walked back to the car with Maeve, Marc having taken Bridget a little earlier to check out a shop. As we walked along streets packed with students wearing orange pants or dresses that I fondly recall once being able to fit into, Maeve took my hand and said “Mama, it is a nice night for a stroll.” And it was.

On Sunday we headed home, stopping at a few wineries along the way. The girls were remarkably well behaved as their parents tried some of Virginia’s finest wines, although Bridget was rather upset to hear the grapes were not for eating.

I drove home, through winding backgrounds of Virginia countryside, past Montpelier, home of James Madison. The windows were open and it was all just what I needed: a tonic of sunshine, scenery and fresh air. I felt like all of me took a deep breath. 

We are back home now, with a chilly night of crisp autumn air and the smell of our neighbors’ fireplaces being used for the first time in months. When I wrote my original post I was probably around a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10. Now I feel like I’m at a four. Each day has gotten a little easier, and this week I have appointments with my psychiatrist and therapist. I think I can get out of this. I can’t say that’s what I believed just a week ago.