As a parent you make choices every day about your children. What they should wear. What they will eat for dinner. When they will go to bed. Whether they can go for a sleepover or not. And so it goes on. A day doesn’t pass when I don’t make decisions for my children.
But sometimes, as a parent, you have to make very tough choices. Not the every day decisions but life-changing decisions.
Last year, I was faced with having to make this type of decision that would impact not only on my life, but also the lives of my six children. And, as a single parent, I had to make the decision by myself. It was a huge responsibility to make the right choice.
At Easter 2014, I spotted an advert for a part-time English teacher while visiting my parents in Telford. It had been in the back of my mind for some time to move from Exeter to Telford but with everything else going on, I hadn’t taken the time to really consider it. Seeing the advert forced it to the front of my mind and I decided to apply and leave it to “what is meant to be, will be”.
As I was busy, I nearly forgot to apply but managed to chuck something together, send the application in an email at midnight, get an interview and then a job offer.
A job 200 miles away from my home, the childrens’ nursery, schools and most importantly, friends.
I had a tough choice to make. And it wouldn’t affect just me; it would have an impact on my six children too. They had only ever lived in Exeter and the older ones had their lives built around it. Michael had a full-time job, Natasha was about to start college and Kaiya was going to begin her GCSEs. They all had close friendships and clubs that they loved going to. Yet, here I was, considering taking them away from all of this to start a new life.
As with all decisions, there were advantages and disadvantages.
The disadvantages included: leaving all of our friends, having to sell two of my businesses, needing to sell the house quickly (which would mean not getting the market value), moving the children out of nurseries/schools etc.
The advantages included: a fresh start away from the memories, being close to my family, moving before the court injunction expired, getting a bigger house for less rental costs than in Exeter.
Remembering that I had said to myself, “what is meant to be, will be”, I knew a job offer was a sure sign that I was meant to move so I decided to go for it and accepted the job. I won’t tell you that there weren’t doubts, because there were many but there were also many reasons to leave.
Then the panic set in.
The first thing that I had to do was break the news to the children. I wasn’t worried about the younger ones. They would adapt easily. But I was worried about my three teenagers and how they would take the news. Michael decided that he would not move with us but stay in Exeter. Natasha was quite happy with it and agreed with the reasons for moving. Kaiya cried for a week and tried to persuade me to change my mind, using a variety of means and reasoning.
This was possibly the hardest time. Knowing that I had made a decision that had caused such distress in one of my children. I worried a lot about whether it was fair to move a 14 year old girl who didn’t want to go and whether she was right with her persuasive arguments to stay. Emotionally, it was definitely a tough choice to move. I had the responsibility of my childrens’ happiness on my shoulders and I couldn’t see a year into the future to know whether they would be happier in Telford.
On a practical level, it was also very difficult. The house wasn’t selling and I needed cash for the moving fees, rental deposit, a months rent and enough to be able to pay for two houses until it did sell. After struggling for a year to pay the mortgage on my own, I wasn’t going to let the house be repossessed at this point.
So, for financial reasons, I took on extra work. At one point, I was working 7 jobs at once. Never again! Especially, while packing a house, trying to find a new house, nursery, schools etc and doing the day-to-day tasks of having six children.
Here’s just some of the photos of the chaos as I went through a house sorting out things for the tip – quite a few tip runs – selling piles and packing piles.
It seemed to never end. But, through working and selling a lot of belongings, I managed to raise the £7000 that I needed.
There were many points in this period of time that I nearly stayed. I was totally exhausted and stressed by trying to sell the house and juggling so many things. It would have been easy to have changed my mind.
And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, Tasha went through the ceiling when she was in the loft helping to pass things down.
Fortunately, she wasn’t hurt but I think I had reached the point of tears when this happened especially as there was a house viewing that weekend. Fortunately, a lovely friend came over and fixed it for me. I didn’t know where to start with fixing it so would have been totally stuck without his aid.
Finally, it was Michael’s birthday and also the day before the big move. The three younger ones had gone up to Telford two days earlier to make it easier for me and the removal company. So, we made the most of it and went out in the evening to celebrate Michael’s 19th birthday. It was a bittersweet day.
Moving to Telford from Devon was a tough choice but the right one.
My children really love their new nurseries/schools and college. Kaiya and Hannah enjoy going to a stage school once a week. Tasha and Kaiya are members of a gym and go swimming whenever they wish. Most importantly, they have made friends and settled in.
My new job is supportive, friendly and has an interesting mix of students. My family are only ten minutes away and my children get to have a relationship with their grandparents. The house is lovely – lots of space inside and outside in a quiet area – and far more than I could have had with my budget in Exeter.
Remember that Kaiya really didn’t want to move to Telford? Well, I asked Kaiya this week if she was happier here or in Exeter and she replied, “Definitely here.” Thank goodness.
It was a life-changing decision that wasn’t easy to reach or to achieve but it was the right one.
Of course, I miss Michael and my friends a lot but, fortunately, with mobiles, the internet and social media, they are never far away.