Sunday, 25 September 2011

Roots and wings...

Growing up, as a child, we moved, a lot.

Before I was thirteen years old my family had lived in eight different houses across several different counties of England, and I had attended a handful of different schools.

Through the work of my father, real estate wins, schooling choices, and an open mind, my family moved a great deal.

We were still secure, and loved, and routines didn't deviate all that much, but I do recall a sense of movement. Or rather a lack of feeling truly settled.

I left home at seventeen, to go to uni at the other end of the country, and so my slightly nomadic existence continued. Between student digs, shared houses, live-in accommodation in hotels and live-in relationships, between my late teens and mid twenties I have actually lost track of the amount of times I shifted and moved addresses...

I made friends everywhere I went and retained many of those relationships.  I am still in touch with many of those friends in varying degrees - Facebook and email has made that possible. I still chat and email with the best friend I made in the street we lived in in 1976. As well as that, I am still close to a great number of my school and uni friends from the heady days of the 1980's, along with the friends I made through my early working life in the '90's.

School friends still live in the villages they were born in.

Uni friends have returned home to the places they grew up in, to have their own children, to further develop the roots still deeply embedded.

Old work colleagues have bought homes and now have their own families growing up in the same streets.

I don't think I realised, when I made the decision to move from the UK to Australia in the 1995, how much my life had been a chain of moves, a long list of uprooting. It stood me in good stead, for the move to another country, another life, was seamless and easy.

Upon meeting my lovely husband, we "settled" quickly, in Sydney's inner west.  He is a boy from the Northern Beaches but he chose to move to the other side of town. And he and I, since then, have bought, renovated, sold, moved, relocated and resettled seven times in fifteen years. I am not sure whose sense of adventure has driven this. Both, I suspect. Between three states, we have made homes in Sydney, Adelaide and Darwin, all successfully. Each move has bought new challenges, new excitements, new friends and new lives to explore.

We are now firmly and finally wed to the house and home we live in here in the leafy foothills of Adelaide. It is an area that is safe, beautiful and everything we need in terms of people and facility. I love it.

And we are surrounded by people who have lived here their whole lives. They may have moved a street or a suburb aside, but whole families grow up together and do not move.

At my children's school, I am surrounded by parents who also attended the school before their children, some over thirty years ago.

There is a deep and incredibly secure vibe of confidence, community and well being to all of these new friends. They have lived here their whole lives; they know every corner of the area - every street, every park, every shop, every character and every tradition. And their children are safely harboured in the same enviable sense of security.

They have not moved for career or adventure or habit. They have met partners locally and bought homes locally. Their parents and relatives all live nearby: a constant supply of support, knowledge and babysitting available. Even if they have travelled, they have the homing bird trait - and always land back where they started.

If I am honest, I am envious of this status. It is this deep placement of roots that I wish for my children, and the reason, I suspect, that I baulk at moving home again, and the reason I will resist a change of schools for my three little ones.

But then I think of the adventures I have had, the things I have experienced, the openness of my eyes in the face of travel and change. And I know some of my new friends are in awe and envy of my nomad adventures, and crave this for themselves.

Who knows?

I am never sure, and will never be sure of the "best" way. It is too late for me to change my history now. Will my children resent that I will keep them secure and settled in one house and in one school and in one town, until they are ready to leave home? Will they percieve that as boring and unadventurous? Who knows.

What about you? Roots? Or wings?

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  1. I had a childhood much like yours - we moved a LOT - and like you, I always thought Id prefer to give my kids a much more settled experience. Somehow, though, it hasn't ended up like that and they've now been to numerous schools and lived in three different cities. They're perfectly happy and secure (I think, I hope) but they always find moving a wrench and we're very much planning on staying put now. For good.

  2. hmmm . . .13 schools, numerous homes and three different provinces I moved many times before the age of 10 and then chose to move many more as a young adult. By a quirk of fate I ended up purchasing the home my father grew up in and I had spent 6 years in as well at the age of 26.
    I am the third generation to own the home, my husband married the house and history as well as me. And as the owner of a home built at the turn of the centruy my roots feel like they are sunk into the bedrock of this city.
    But I am still a wanderer at heart. We travel often to scratch that itch of mine to go, go now and go far. But the older I get the more I look forward to the flight home. I can almost feel my Grandmother (whom I never met) and my father watching over us.

  3. Im a mix of both wings as Im happy renting again and have sorta lost count of the house both here in Coffs Harbour and Sydney but roots as in I came back here to Coffs when the twins where small and have lots of lifelong friends here. Mmm cant see me movin, but love trips away!!

  4. While growing up I had roots. A very secure upbringing in the same school, same friends, same neighborhood. I loved it. After my marriage and our twins were born we took flight as much as we could, still keeping roots for the boys. We traveled a lot until they were in the 2nd grade. We still travel during school vacations. They have seen much and we've traveled the world. They love their home and will always be rooted to the same school, same house and same friends until they decide to take flight with their family. Have no regrets on anything you do, only regret the things you don't do or experience.

  5. I suppose I am roots. I am one of those who you spoke of, mom and dad grew up in the same town I still live in. The farthest from home I ever moved was about 15 miles. I often dream of moving far away, but I always come back to my family and home.

  6. I think roots are a good thing. Something to come home to when they do adventure away as they grow themselves. And I am sure that you share adventures together even if they are not of the physically moving house variety. My husband grew up in a very nomadic family, mine was the exact opposite. It makes for some interesting moments, especially when he gets itchy feet. I hope one day he can feel a sense of being settled, like it sounds like you have found Lucy.

  7. Bit more complicated for me - my parents were immigrants from Greece. I was the first born of my generation in this county, now some of us cousins have kids here.

    I have lived in Melbourne all my life and moved only 3 times to what is now my penultimate home - will only move again to downsize and retire.

    I wish I had roots - I miss that. Never knew my grandparents or any of the family left back on Greece - our whole universe consisted of my mother and her 2 siblings who joined her and my father and his sister. Not much family to rely on really.

    My mother and brother have moved to Queensland - I am staying put for the very reason you talk about - putting downs roots for my kids so their kids have some place to call the beginning. I envy my girlfriend who can trace her family back to the beginning of settlement here in Australia and beyond to england. What a glorious thing to be connected to one place and know your history. HOw strange to drive past homes that your grandparents lived in or great grandparents.

    Great story Lucy.

  8. Ha! This has been on my mind too (have just written about it).

    I stayed in one place until I met my husband, then we moved eleven times in sixteen years!

    Everyone has to make choices. We can't have everything. Sounds like you've had a wonderful, rich existence. It may not have been so if you'd made different choices.

  9. I grew up in the same house, attended grade school, junior high and high school on the same block so I was a roots person. We raised our three children in pretty much a roots manner although we moved a couple of time.
    Then. . .I became a full time RVer and have been living a wings lifestyle for 17 years!
    And both have been equally great!

  10. Popps is 5 and we are in the fourth house since she was born.

    I have lived in so many houses I imagine my name in my friends address books takes up a lot of room, lots of scribble.

    We are now in a place that i expect to be semi permanent, as school begins for us next year.

    But if you tell me this is the house I will live in til I am old and frail, i would be saddened by the lack of people, places, adventures that life has to offer.

    I went to four schools, and that was ok.

    I do miss having a support network of grandparents near by, very very much, but there are lots of us without that and we tend to seek each other out.

    I guess it is little wings for me.

  11. I am definetely wings. Military family and then I went in the service myself. I have moved 33 times and I am only 28 years old. I used to love moving around, the new adventure of a new place. But as I became older, I longed for stability, one place to stay. My husband and I are hoping to buy our first house and settle down. It will be interesting and a new type of adventure.

  12. I grew up in a country town, left home at 17, and moved 13 times in 14 years. And now I've been settled for three years in our Shoebox and I would happily live here for the rest of my life. I hope that Miss A will enjoy her childhood living by the beach, and then I'd be happy to see her fly. xx

  13. I have lived in about 70 different places and I hit 50 before I was 18. As a child I loved the adventure but hated that we never had a home. School was hard. I struggled to make friends. Still do.

    I swore black and blue that I would put down roots for my children. I would make a home that had a history. But all that moving gave me a gypsy soul. And I often feel a sense of restlessness. I can take the edge off by moving furniture, changing things inside, but it's always there, pulling at me.

    I remind myself that my children are my adventure, for now.

  14. Hi Lucy,

    Staying grounded is always good as you would have the confidence in your history and surroundings.

    However I believe alot of behavioural aspects are somewhat hereditary. If you go ahead and tell your children all the stories you had when moving from one place to another, don't you think they would want to do the same?

    Thanks for posting this comment. Good Read.

  15. Another beautifully put and though provoking post Ms Lucy!

    As a child we had very entrenched roots - in fact my parents have both only lived in two places (childhood home and married home). yet I, in my 32 years of life have lived in 2 countries, 2 states and am on to my 10th move in 10 years! We've been stayed put for almost 2 years now and its very much the kind of place people have lived their whole life. I envy them but I continue to try and forge new friendships and feel blessed to have a past of rich texture.

  16. we moved quite a bit when i was younger but ALWAYS remained in the same suburb.

    i am definitely a wings gal but am married to a roots man. we've lived in 5 different houses in the 10 years we've been in oztralia and our current abode for 5.5 years which is wayyyy too long for me. i long to move, to a different suburb, different part of the state, different state, different country. i'd love to rent our current house out and move overseas for a year but married to roots guy, no chance of that happening.


  17. We only moved twice in my childhood, and the furthest was 15 mins drive from the previous house. My husband never moved until we bought our house together.

    When we moved in together, our families lived two suburbs apart from each other and we moved into the suburb in between the two.

    Having renovated our home (which is the only place S and I have lived in together) we're settled here and don't intend on moving. Ever.

    So we definitely have our roots here!

  18. I moved a bit when I was a child. When we moved here I got Mr E. to promise that we would live here until Boy Child was 18. We have been here 12 years now and sometimes I wonder if that was the right decision.

    I like to think that I will give my children both roots and wings.

  19. There is a good chance they will love it. Developing stronger friendships each year, the comfort in knowing where everything is, who everyone is, it's a wonderful thing.
    However, take them on lots of trips, so they don't end up all lost and confused, like I did, when they move away from home. Or go to Uni.
    I loved growing up with family, friends and stability.

  20. There is a good chance they will love it. Developing stronger friendships each year, the comfort in knowing where everything is, who everyone is, it's a wonderful thing.
    However, take them on lots of trips, so they don't end up all lost and confused, like I did, when they move away from home. Or go to Uni.
    I loved growing up with family, friends and stability.

  21. I love this site I will follow him in my head also:

  22. I am a Gemini through and through. I get bored easily and often wish I could just go...some place, any place new. My family is, however, a stationary group. So what I have learned works best for me is a home base, safe and secure, but the abliity too explore beyond that. I try to encourage the same for my daughter.

    Btw-the art on today's blog is amazing.

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  24. When I see your new post, I feel I have to spread my wings.
    It’s hard, not yet, but I will get there. Who knows? Maybe even tomorrow.

  25. Lucy, you may never know just how much of a gift your " I am never sure and will never be sure of the 'best' way" is to me right now.

    I constantly struggle about what is the "best" for my guys, there is some comfort in knowing that someone living the complete opposite life (stability) worries about the exact same thing.


  26. It can be simple?
    I take my roots with whenever it’s time for wings to go. Like library always first.
    And boys know, that home is where Mom is sleeping LOL
    Yes, that is from ages ago, when I was breastfeeding, but it’s working for every long vacation as well as changing the school or house.


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