Monday's Food for Thought

Monday’s Food for Thought: Inspiring People

The London Marathon was held last Sunday, and as both my husband and I are runners, we always take interest in what is going on in and around the marathon. A week before it took place, this article came out on the BBC.

Fauja Singh announced this would be his last marathon, after only running 8 marathons.He plans to continue running smaller races (half marathons/10Ks).

Part of me wondered, WHY is this news? Then I read further – Mr Singh is 101 years old. He started running when he was 89 years old.

I’ve thought a lot about Mr Singh over the past 2 weeks. Every time I’ve began to make an excuse or procrastinate about accomplishing something, I’ve thought about the tenacity and drive that he must possess – and honestly, I’ve found it inspiring.

I sincerely hope that as I grow older, I continue to try new things and strive for ways that will forge new growth in my own life.

Who inspires you today?

-Mandy

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Inspiration

“And then what shall we do toglether?”

-written by Betsy*, a current graduate wife

By a recent calculation I spend about thirty minutes a day answering this question. It is my daughter’s first question on awakening, and her last when I’m reassuring her as to the Openness of the Door at bedtime.

“What is tomorrow, Mommy?”

“Sunday.”


”What will we do toglether on Sunday?”


”We’ll go to church.”

“And then what will we do?”

“Then it will be lunchtime.”


”And then what will we–”

“Oh, it will be a very good afternoon. Good night!”

(pause)


”Is it February?”


”Yes.”

“How long it going to be February?”


That’s what we all want to know. “A few more weeks.”

“Then March?”

“Yes.”


”What shall we do toglether in March?”

She always wants the breakdown of the morning, the day, the week, the month, the year. She likes to know what’s coming next. She instantly asks the question again should I try and stall her off. A change of subject is fruitless. Once, I was so tired of trying to answer the question that I immediately offered her a gummy bear. She ate the bear. And asked again.

I’ve tried “I don’t know,” but she simply does not believe it. And the hardest answer for her to hear is “Wait and see.”

But it is hard to wait and see, isn’t it? Not to know. And there’s so many things we don’t know. We get big heads sometimes because we can tell that it will rain two days before it does. We forget that we don’t know much else.

It’s comforting to think that I am there to reassure my daughter when she starts to wonder and worry how we will occupy ourselves in the days ahead. Her little childish mind wants to know if we will be doing her favorite activities, if we will be seeing family and friends. She’s looking for simple things to look forward to, for future plans to get excited about. I can offer her these. It’s comforting because she doesn’t realize I have much bigger questions. Where in the world will we go? How will we navigate the many questions, obstacles, and challenges between here and there? and What will it be like? How will we educate our children? These are just a few of the ones plaguing me lately. And the only answer I have is also “Wait and see.”

When Alex and I were married we had some ideas for what we’d like to do. We’ve always called it The Ten Year Plan. It involved paying down debt, going back to school, starting our family, hopefully studying for a Ph. D. at Oxford or Cambridge, and finally relocating to somewhere in the (non-Western) Majority World and getting involved in the growth of the church through theological education.  It seemed a little far-fetched in 2004. We are now in year eight. God has truly led and provided for each and every step. (Indeed, when I sit and contemplate how he has done so, I am undone.) We’ve been on this journey for such a long time, we’ve sort of gotten used to it. But now it’s time to face the next step: And now what shall we do toglether?

*blog and photo reposted with permission from www.partofthemain.wordpress.com

Friendship · Inspiration

The Mark of Friendship


-written by Ashley, a friend to several graduate wives

I remember the day my friends packed up everything they owned into a U-Haul, for what would be their first of several grad school journeys. I remember helping them pack and clean, and I remember saying my goodbyes. I remember the tears flowing down my face and all the emotions of my dear, close friends leaving hit me. My friends were speechless. They had never seen me in such a condition, and quite honestly, I had never seen myself in such a condition.

It’s something that we can joke about today, but at the time, it was not a laughing matter. I felt possessed. I felt broken. I felt empty. I was scared. And quite honestly, I was mad.  Don’t get me wrong; I was excited for them. But at the root of it, I was being selfish. I didn’t want them to go. I couldn’t help but doubt whether or not this was really the best thing for them.  I questioned whether or not they were making a mistake. Didn’t they know that they were wanted and needed right here, with me?

That was 8 years ago. Needless to say, they are still not here with me. Quite the opposite is actually true. Now, they are across the world, in a different time zone, in a different country. Their grad school experience has taken them on a journey that I don’t think any of us would have predicted. And quite frankly, had they known about the journey that awaited them, I’m not sure they would have taken it. But, I am so glad they did. I know I’m not the one taking the classes (hallelujah!) and I know I’m not the one financially supporting (hallelujah!) my significant other as they pursue what I consider academic insanity, but here’s what my friends’ grad school journey has taught me…

It has taught me what it means to put someone’s dreams ahead of your own.

It has taught me what it means to take a risk.

It has taught me what it means to follow someone you love, even if it’s not what you want to do.

It has taught me what it means to be stretched.

It has taught me what it means to be challenged.

It has taught me what it means to want something for someone else.

It has taught me what it means to be a friend.

(And it has taught me that I never want to go to grad school!)  :)

If you’re not a graduate wife, but you read this blog, how do you support and encourage a friend of yours who IS a graduate wife or significant other to a graduate?

Holidays

I’ll Be Home For Christmas, If Only in My Dreams……

                                                                                             -written by Deanna, a current graduate wife

My husband and I have been doing this grad-school thing for 5+ years now and we have at least 2 to go.  Possibly as many as 5.  We’re in the thick of it.  Although we are both from the US, we started our grad-school adventure in Canada – but only about 7 hours from our families.  We had a semi-dependable car so, of course, we drove home for Christmas.  Easy peasy.  As relative newlyweds and people with great families who grew up with well-loved Christmas traditions, we really enjoyed sharing the nostalgia of childhood Christmases with each other those first few years.

Our third Christmas in Canada our daughter was born.  I literally went into labour after breakfast on Christmas morning, went to the hospital that afternoon, and delivered her at some unholy hour the next morning.  Adoring grandparents and aunts quite literally dropped their forks on their Christmas dinner plates and braved icy roads in the midst of a massive snow storm to come to us that Christmas day arriving at the hospital in the middle of the night… just hours before our daughter was born.  It was an eventful Christmas but needless to say, we didn’t travel that year.

The next graduate degree took us much farther from our families.  Instead of being a few hundred miles away, we were nearly 5,000 miles away (including crossing a rather significant ocean.)  Money was tight… very tight.  A flight home simply wasn’t an option.  In fact this is our third Christmas overseas.  Is it hard being away from the family we love so dearly at such a special time of year?  Yes.  (It’s even worse with a child!)  Does it get easier?  That depends on you.  But here are a few survival tips from a graduate wife who has lived it a few years running. 

First things first, admit that it sucks.  If you’d rather be back home – just say so.  Don’t bottle it all up with a brave face until you crack and turn into a big weepy puddle on Christmas day.  Talk to your spouse.  Tell your spouse about the specific things you’ll miss.  Chances are that they have a list of things they’ll be missing as well.  Grieve it if you need to.  And don’t forget to tell your family and friends back home too! They’ll be thrilled to know you want to be with them – even if you can’t be there that year.  Be sure to plan a time to video chat with your family too!

But then you’ve got to move on.  Don’t wallow in self pity day in and day out.  It isn’t pretty.  Turn off the sad songs you’ve had on repeat.  (I may or may not be speaking from personal experience when I’m guessing your repeat list includes Michael Buble’s ‘I Want To Go Home’ and the Christmas classic ‘There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays’.)  Whether intentional or not, your wallowing will likely make your spouse feel like scum for dragging you away from your family at the holidays even though, in reality, you probably made the decision to move far away together.  Instead, try to be thankful that you don’t have to deal with the headaches of holiday traffic, airport crowds, and jet lag.  And then use some of the following tips to keep your Christmas spirits up and truly enjoy the season where you are!

1.    Make some of your favorite traditions from back home happen where you are.  It may take a little ingenuity, and it won’t be perfect – but it can be done!   Here are a few of my favorites:

• Bake a plate of Christmas cookies for your neighbors (or just for yourself!),

• Put up a tree.  Make it out of paper or felt and tape it to your wall if you must – but at our house we don’t go without a tree of some sort.  Then cover it with ornaments, homemade if you didn’t bring any of your own (we didn’t).  Cut out paper snowflakes, tie a bit of string to the top of pine cones (and add a little glitter?), shape some stars out of pipe cleaners, and string popcorn.  Is it going to look like Rockefeller Plaza?  No.  But it will still be festive!

•Bust out some nostalgic Christmas music.  Try Grooveshark to put together free playlists of all your old favorites.

•Make yourself an advent wreath and follow the true story of Christmas for the 4 weeks leading up to the big day.  It can really help your perspective!

•Curl up with your spouse and watch your favorite Christmas movie with a cup of cocoa.  (Stir it with a candy cane if at all possible.)

2.  Embrace where you are.  After all, you may never be here at this time of year again!

•Pick something to do with your spouse that you couldn’t do back home.  December is packed full of concerts, plays, Christmas fairs and festivals, tree lighting ceremonies, church services, Christmas carol sing-alongs, etc. pretty much wherever you are.  Find a unique setting like a cool playhouse, grotto or cathedral near you to experience some of these things in a new way!

•Take advantage of the weather.  If it’s cold where you are, go ice skating or build a snowman with your spouse and then take a picture of the two of you with your snowman and send it to family and friends.  If it’s warm where you are, hit the beach for the day to work on your tan and fire up the BBQ for Christmas dinner!

•Try some local Christmas food traditions.  Here that means fresh roasted chestnuts, mince pies, mulled wine, bacon-wrapped sausages, brussels sprouts, roast potatoes, stuffing rolled into balls, roast turkey, Christmas pudding (doused in brandy and lit on fire!), Christmas crackers and wearing a paper crown during dinner and/or dessert.

•Volunteer in your community.  Chances are, as poor as you might feel sometimes, there are people in your city who are much worse off than you.  Find a soup kitchen or homeless shelter to help out at.  Bless people less fortunate than you are and then go home feeling grateful for all that you have instead of feeling miserable about all the things you don’t.

•Find out who else is spending Christmas away from their families and plan something fun to do together:  attend a midnight carol service together, invite someone to Christmas dinner, host a Christmas cookie exchange, organize a white elephant gift exchange, bundle up for a walk together and then head back to one of your homes for a Christmas movie and some hot apple cider, etc.  The possibilities are endless – and all the friends who traveled home for the holidays will be sad to have missed such a fun time while they were away!

3. Create new traditions.  Old traditions are great.  But creating a tradition that is unique to you and your spouse (and kids!) is especially wonderful!  I’m not sure we would have discovered this truth if we had simply gone back to our parents’ house every year to take part in their traditions.  Let me encourage you to seize this opportunity!  Here are a few simple ideas:

•Build a gingerbread house together.  Can’t find gingerbread where you are and don’t want to make your own?  Browse the cracker, cookie, and candy aisles at your local shop and get creative with what’s available to you!

•Hang a stocking (or just a sock!) for each person in the house on Dec 1.  Then every day, write down one thing you appreciate about each of the other people in the house or perhaps something funny/memorable they did or said that day on a small bit of paper and put it in their stocking.  On Christmas day, each person will read dozens of affirming observations about themselves!  What a gift!

•Go for a Christmas day walk.

•Plan a yummy Christmas breakfast together.  It doesn’t have to be complicated – just something you’ll do year after year.  We tend to go for homemade cinnamon rolls smothered in butter and frosting served with eggs, fruit, and bacon or sausage.

•If you have kids, pick a small Christmas object (a star, a candy cane with a ribbon tied round it, a particular Christmas ornament, a santa hat, a small stuffed snowman or elf, etc.) and hide it in a different place in the house every day.  Whoever finds it first wins a small prize like a piece of chocolate!

I hope you will try some of these tips and that you will find them to be as rewarding as we have over the past few years.  From my family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year wherever you may be!

Depression

Depression is a Jealous Mistress

                                                                                                        written by Becky, a former graduate wife

When I was asked to write about my struggle with depression during my time as a graduate wife, two thoughts came to me. One, I’m not going to do it. And two, I have to do it. Depression rears its ugly head at far to many to be allowed to remain a silent killer of marriage, family, hopes, and dreams. It is my goal in this snippet to expose it and hopefully encourage some of you to pursue healing.

For as long as I can remember I hid my struggle. I was so ashamed that I didn’t have it all together and that I wasn’t really the outgoing bubbly Becky everyone knew and loved. I was so dark, angry, hurting, and no one saw it.

No one except my husband.

In his second year of seminary, my husband had to pick up the phone and call the seminary’s counseling department because I was suicidal and wouldn’t leave my bed for three days. He helped me when my depression brought me to where I had no voice. He was my voice.

A year of intense counseling later, I thought that I was free.

My son Nolan was born one year after Graham graduated from seminary, and the joyous time that should have been wasn’t. Tainted with extreme weight gain, exhaustion, crying everyday at 4 o’clock on the dot, anger at everyone, and isolation, my son’s first months were shrouded by a cloud as dark as those Floridian summer afternoon thunderstorms. I thought it was the baby blues and normal issues brought on by moving across the country, trying to put down new roots, buying a home; all those things associated with a major relocation. Yet, six months passed and I was still a mess. Finally, a friend suggested I see the doctor to ask about medication.

Meds, I thought, were for the truly insane. Not for me.

I was so desperate, however, to get better, I went and was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety. In a weird way I was relived.

I wasn’t crazy.
Just sick.

Oh sweet, sweet meds. I had found myself again. The medications took three months to really start working but once they did, I didn’t know how I made it this long without them.

Am I healed? Is life perfect? No way. Depression is a jealous mistress that fights for your attention daily. You carry it with you like the diabetic carries their diabetes or the cancer patient carries their cancer. But how I choose to carry and deal with my disease makes all the difference in how I do life in the uncertainty of being married to a man whose direction in life turns on a dime. I could choose to go back to my hole of hiding and shame, and sometimes in my weakness I do go back, but most days I put on my boxing gloves to get out of bed, take my meds, and live life to the fullest, squeezing every drop of beauty and love out of every moment. I don’t try to be that fake outgoing bubbly Becky anymore; I try to be the truest and most raw and real me.

Beautifully broken.

If there is one thing a graduate wife is, without a doubt, it is strong. Sometimes, however, if any if my ramblings are hitting you and you’re thinking, “Yeah, that’s me,” being strong means getting the help that you need to be able to be your truest and most raw and beautifully broken self.

Don’t let depression kill you.
There is hope.
There is help.
There is healing.

All you have to do is ask, or in my case, have your already stressed, stretched, academically overflowing husband ask. That’s what marriage is all about. Holding each other up. There is no shame in your struggle. Be free to pursue healing and get the tools you need to control that mistress. Be free to be you and all of you. After all, isn’t that why most of our husbands are in this? To bring hope and healing whether through academics, ministry, medicine, or law to a world that is in need? Allow that hope and healing into your heart and soul.

After all, doesn’t the graduate wife deserve it?
With a smile on my face and warmth in my heart to you, the graduate wife reader, I say a big resounding…

YES! :)

As a graduate wife, have you struggled with depression?

Conclusion from Mandy –

I asked my friend, Becky, to write about her struggle with depression during (and after) her time as a graduate wife. Even though we were friends while our husbands were in school together, I had no idea she was going through this, until our last 2 weeks of living in Florida. Let’s be honest: depression isn’t something really talked about among graduate wives, and in my opinion, it’s often because we think other people might view us as weak.

I have been there.

I, too, told people I was fine, while I suffered silently. It was only after I reached out for help did I truly understand how much I needed it.

My challenge to each of you: talk to each other. Be willing to be vulnerable to someone, even though it may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. If you think you need help, pick up the phone and find someone to talk to. DON’T do this journey alone. And, by reaching out, you are being ridiculously strong and brave. As Becky said above, “…being strong means getting the help that you need to be able to be your truest and most raw and beautifully broken self.”

MC and I are also here – feel free to contact us at thegraduatewife@gmail.com if you feel like you need someone to talk to. This is why the blog was created.

Monday's Food for Thought

Monday’s Food for Thought: Reading Between the Lines

The below piece featured on Monday’s Food for Thought, comes from an online Christian journal, RZIM.  Although it is a blatantly religious piece, the words of truth it shares about biographies, are a crucial part of why TheGraduateWife.com exists.  To journey with each other and to discover that “the afflictions we find wearing are given meaning in the (biographical) stories of ones who have overcome much.”  Life is indeed too short for us to journey alone.

Reading Between the Lines

by Jill Carattini

On any given week, three to five biographies make The New York Times best-sellers list for non-fiction.  Though historical biographies have changed with time, human interest in the genre is long-standing.  The first known biographies were commissioned by ancient rulers to assure records of their accomplishments.  The Old Testament Scriptures, detailing the lives of patriarchs, prophets, and kings, are also some of the earliest biographies in existence.  Throughout the Middle Ages, biographical histories were largely in the hands of monks; lives of martyrs and church fathers were recorded with the intention of edifying readers for years to come.  Over time and with the invention of the printing press, biographies became increasingly influential and widely read, portraying a larger array of lives and their stories.

The popularity of the genre is understandable.  As Thomas Carlyle writes,

“Biography is the most universally pleasant and profitable of all reading.”  Such books are pleasant because in reading the accounts of men and women in history, we find ourselves living in many places; they are profitable because in doing so, we hear fragments of our own stories. The questions and thoughts we considered our own suddenly appear before us in the life of another.  The afflictions we find wearying are given meaning in the story of one who overcame much or the life of one who found hope in the midst of loss.  Perhaps we move toward biography because we seem to know that life is too short to learn only by our own experience.”

As a Christian, I am called to move similarly.  The most direct attempt in Scripture to define faith is done so by the writer of Hebrews.  The eleventh chapter begins, “Now faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see” (11:1).  To be honest, it is a definition that has always somewhat eluded me, and I was thankful to read I am notalone. John Wesley once observed of the same words, “There appears to be a depth in them, which I am in no wise able to fathom.”  Perhaps recognizing the weight and mystery of faith and the difficulty of defining it, the writer of Hebrews immediately moves from this definition to descriptions of men and women who have lived “sure of hope” and “certain of the unseen.”  From Noah and Abraham, to Rahab and saints left unnamed, we find faith moving across the pages of history, the gift of God sparkling in the eyes of the faithful, the hope by which countless lives were guided.  In this brief gathering of biographies, the writer seems to tell us that faith is understood functionally as much as philosophically, and that our own faith is more fully understood by looking at the lives of the faithful.  For in between the lines that describe faithful men and women is the God who makes faith possible in the first place.

At the end of his compelling list, the writer of Hebrews concludes: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (12:1). The lives of those who followed Christ before us urge us onward, strengthening our hearts with stories of faith, stirring our minds at the thought of God’s enduring influence, reminding us that God moves in our biographies and yet beyond them.

Jill Carattini is senior associate writer at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.


Children · Family · Moving · Patience

Helping Children Put Down New Roots

                                                                                                  written by Michelle – a former graduate wife

In the summer heat, my boys are restless and roaming the house looking for their next adventure.  Hoping to provide some direction for their boundless energy, my sister asks if we would help her transplant some potted plants.

“Yeah! Digging and dirt!” shouts one.

“I want to hold the hose!” chimes in the other as he sprints out to the back patio.

She brings a basket of plants outside that have grown too big for their original pots.  Browning and overcrowded, they clearly need more dirt, fresh nutrients . . . something to bring new life back into withering leaves.

My boys hover over pots and sacks of Miracle-Gro.   Soon, clay pots are filled with new soil and small shovels loosen plants from old containers, their roots twisted and tangled together.  The perfectly pot-sized clumps of roots are placed in spacious pots and new dirt secures them in place.  My younger boy comes by with a miniature watering can to finish the job.

This small bit of gardening took all of ten minutes, but now as I sit in the evening quiet, my thoughts come back to this transplanting idea.  I am thinking about how many times my family has been transplanted during the course of my husband’s studies.   I am remembering what it was like to tell our kids we were moving again and how we attempted to guide them through the transitions.

Even my rowdy 3 and 7 year old boys can transfer a strong, established plant to a new pot with a little bit of focus, but it can be difficult to move a seedling successfully.  Moving children is a lot like attempting to transplant seedlings.  Their roots are tiny, fragile white threads and they never seem to balance properly in the new pot.  We moved five different times during our graduate journey and each time friends and family were keen to reassure us:  “Oh, don’t worry – kids are so resilient!  Especially at such young ages!”  or “Kids pick up new languages almost instantly.  They soak it up like a sponge. ” And yet, each time we moved, my children did struggle.  And learning a new language and going to school in that language was hard work for my older son.  After a few moves, I began to be of the opposite mind as my well-intentioned advice givers.  I came to realize that my children actually do hear and understand and feel a lot more than I sometimes realize.  Especially because they are fragile and not fully formed (much like seedlings), my boys need to be given opportunities to process what is happening if they are going to transition without problems.    So, in this piece I would like to explore ways we can help our children during a move or major transition.  Some ideas come from what we have tried in our own family and I have also added some ideas from the moving chapter of the book Third Culture Kids.

1)     Introducing the Idea of Moving

a)     Before our most recent move, my husband set up a series of bedtime chats with our sons (then 5 and 1) in which he told them about “God’s special plan” for our family.   We told the boys that we felt that God was directing us to move in order to follow His special plan.  We also had a night in which we talked about the fact that God has a special plan for each of their lives and God may be using some of our travels to prepare them for their futures.  These chats were given in bite-sized pieces they could understand, usually with a map nearby and time for their questions.

b)     We marked on a map where we lived (Germany) and where we were moving (England).  In order to create some excitement, we tried to make lists of things the children might like about our new city.  If possible, it is great to find pictures of the school the children will attend or pictures of the house/apartment that you will live in and its surrounding neighborhood.

c)     Read books about moving and talk about how the different characters might feel.  Try to find one with clear pictures of what happens during the packing up of an old house, the unpacking at new house, saying goodbye to old friends, making new friends, etc.

d)     For very small children, it can be helpful to play “moving games” in order to just introduce them to what a move is.  We did this some with our youngest in our last move a couple of weeks before we left.  I gave him a couple of empty boxes and we would pack up toys and move them to the next room and unpack them, explaining that this is what we were going to do later with all of our stuff.  Also, during all the events that precede a move and happen during a move, it is good for the parents to “frame” what is happening:  “Look, Daddy and his friend are putting the boxes in the van.  They will bring all of your toys safely to your new room.  Just like our game!”  or “We are waving goodbye to our old house.  We will have a picture of it in our photo album, but now we are going to live in our new house.”   When things get busy, it is easy to forget to include our young children in what is happening by framing it in words they can understand.

 2)     Giving a Sense of Closure

a)     As it got closer to our moving date, we wanted the kids to have a chance to think about all the people in our current home who have been important to them (church leaders, teachers, friends, neighbors, family members, etc.) and also the places we have been that have been meaningful.

i)      People: Children can write notes of appreciation, draw pictures for special people,  or think about leaving a special momento with a close friend or family member

ii)     Places that hold important memories:  Visiting these places one last time, reminiscing, and getting a special photo or hiding a treasure or note to hopefully find again there someday. 

3)     Easing the Actual Transition

a)     Use of “sacred objects”:  For some of us who are making international moves, it is just not possible to take much with us.  How do you deal with this?  We met one family who had a policy we really liked.  Though they moved often, they made sure they always kept a few of their children’s most valued possessions:  some quilts their grandmother had made them and some special dishes made for them by a friend.  The quilts were unpacked first thing and spread over the beds and then their dishes were set out, helping to create a feeling of “home” for them.  Though the quilts were bulky and the family was sometimes very limited on space, these “sacred objects” were always a priority.  Having a set of “sacred objects” as they are called in Third Culture Kids helps to give the kids some stability.

b)     Keep as many family rituals in place as possible – Keep the days and weeks as normal as you can.

c)     Plan for a period of misbehavior and general adjustment.  You, as the parent, are going to need to give a lot emotionally and the kids are going to need you more than normal.  Their behavior is almost guaranteed to be crazy for a while. Give them grace – moving can be even harder for little ones who had no control in the decision that has resulted in their entire world changing.  Keep close tabs on how kids are doing emotionally – you will be very busy and overtired but keep your eye on signs that something might be off with them.  Help them to name feelings and provide acceptable outlets to express feelings.

d)     Make contact with some other families in the area or at the same school as soon as possible (in advance if you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity!)  Don’t expect your new community to initiate having a relationship with you – be prepared to go out and actively seek out community for your family.

e)     One way we have eased the transition for our family is by sending my husband ahead first.  When we moved to Germany, he drove our possessions to our new apartment with a friend a few days before we arrived.  It made a big difference for our five year old, because when he first saw his new room it was completely unpacked with all of his familiar toys out and favorite posters on the walls.  Instead of a weird feeling of not belonging in a small white-walled, empty room, he seemed to feel at peace and slept alone in that room on the first night.  It also helped lessen the stress for me because before our arrival my husband could purchase some preliminary groceries and a map and scout out the neighborhood.

f)      For those of you who are moving internationally, I strongly urge you to learn all you can about the language and culture ahead of time.  Of course, no matter how much you prepare, you will still be learning a lot as you go through life in your new country.  Your children can learn a lot by watching how you handle the experience.  Describe how you are feeling about learning all these new things.  Present it as an exciting new adventure, but acknowledge that it can be overwhelming at times and that’s normal and okay to feel that way.  Try to laugh at your mistakes and move forward so the children know that when they make mistakes, they can learn from them and move on without feeling ashamed.

Taking some time to put some of these ideas in place (and maybe add to them with some of your own!) can really make a difference in how your children react to a move.  We all hope that our kids, if they must be transplanted to a new place, will adjust to the soil and be able to drink deeply of the water and nutrients that a new experience can offer them.  With a little bit of planning and effort, you can help give them the best possible start.

In your graduate wife journey, how have you prepared your children to move to another country, city, or state? Did you do anything specifically?