Sean O’Connor: How I learned that moving home is like moving two hearts into one

It’s often said to be one of the biggest sources of stress in life, but if you approach it in the right way, for the right reasons, moving home can help to build stronger relationships between those who start over under a new roof. 

By Sean O’Connor

I enjoy the beginning of the year. I’m relieved that I get a chance to put the past behind me. Unencumbered by the failings of the previous year, the things I never got done, it’s as if I have been dealt a trump card with powerful properties to sweep away a whole deck that’s been played, and start afresh.

Soon, 2018 will be a distant memory, as I focus on the opportunities that lie ahead of me. Chief amongst these is the opportunity to build a new home. After 20 years in my beloved house, I am moving. I’m aware that this ranks as one of the most stressful things one can do, up there on the list of emotional terrors just behind the death of a spouse or visiting in-laws.

My 15-year-old son has returned from Germany to complete his schooling here. My current abode is too big for the two of us, and has attracted a willing tenant at an attractive price. We can decamp to a smaller flat near my son’s school, a mere 890 metres away from the school gates.

I will be saved the purgatory of driving him to and from school twice a day, snagged in the traffic, and subject to his erratic schedule. Statements that have a slim chance of reaching me via WhatsApp, like ‘Dad, I forgot I have a hockey practise can you fetch me at 6pm’ or ‘Please fetch me after lunch, I got the date of my detention wrong’ will cease to exist.

Read also: Sean O’Connor: The secret of life is learning to find the rhythm in the routine

No longer will I have to drop everything to take forgotten athletics shoes or homework projects through the clogged streets to his school. He can continue building his independence, with his own set of keys and a bicycle. He asked if he couldn’t rather stay dependant a little longer. He can’t, and nor can I.

We will leave behind a rich tapestry of domesticity, and create a new home together with the things we elect to take with us. What we don’t need will be sold or given away. A friend counselled me that I’d made this home we’re in with love, and would make our new home with love too. I found this simple insight tremendously comforting, as it provides me with a simple plan. All I have to do is move with love. I do not have to fret too much. We can strip away superfluous things, and start again with what we have.

On the first of every month I will wake up with a credit in my bank account, due to the disparity between the rental income I receive and the amount I will need to pay. This is hugely comforting. I will leave behind the financial black hole that threatened to engulf me in 2018, like a little spaceship which hits the light speed switch and escapes to another galaxy.

Read also: Sean O’Connor: The close shave that brought me & my teenage son together

It will be a special time for my son and I. What more could a father ask for? I think that he needs me too, and when we chatted last night about how we would live harmoniously together, and what the secret of our success might be, his answer impressed me. ‘Dad,’ he said, ‘We’re very similar.’ I was intrigued, as this has never occurred to me before. ‘We both have our moods, you know,’ he continued. ‘All we have to do is think of ourselves so that we can understand each other.’ Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. I found this to be compassionate and wise.

Occasionally volatile and often unpredictable, yet also consistently kind and caring, my teenage son is an amalgamation of developing behaviours and quite endearing attitudes about the world. To my surprise he then said ‘We also both have man issues.’ Again, this was new to me. I certainly have ‘man issues’ – I didn’t know he had them too. I asked him what he meant.

‘Well, imagine if I had to continue living with mom and my sister. I would go mad.’ Once again his insight was an adroit one. I could also certainly live with my daughter, and will miss her while she remains in Germany, but could certainly not tolerate her mother for as long as it takes to toss a salad (just to be safe, I’ll let you know that she too would shudder at the idea of living with me.)

Boxes are to be procured and packed, cups and plates and glasses and the practical things we’re lucky enough to have. Books will be put into piles, and beds disassembled. We will arrive crosstown, unpack, and shift things around, reconfiguring the future, and with each step, there will be love.