Moving Mom Monday is a series that features real moms and real families that move around the world. We feature families from all walks of life and all lines of work. If you know someone who you think would like to share their moving journey, please contact us.
Melissa Hayden is a stay-at-home mom and the wife of a “Railroader.” She, along with her husband Thomas, have an almost 4-year-old daughter, Claire, and a 1-year-old son named Colton. Her husband started working for Norfolk Southern Railroad one month after they married in June 2009 and it’s been a whirlwind since then.
1. How much have you moved? Where have you lived and for how long?
When Thomas started, his boss told him to expect to move a few times. I had no idea it would be this many moves in such a short time. As of this past week, we have moved five times in six years. We started his career with a move to Bluefield, WV/VA. After his trainee program was completed, we made the move to the beautiful Asheville, N.C. After two years in Asheville and the birth of our first child we were transferred to Allentown, Pa. We lived in Allentown for a year and a week before our second child was due. Thomas started a new position with Norfolk Southern and we were transferred to Enola, Pa. In October 2015, Thomas was offered another position in Atlanta, Ga. We have moved in and are told to “plan” to stay here for two years. We will see…
2. What has been your favorite location so far? Why?
So far, our favorite location that we have lived is Asheville, N.C. It is a beautiful place to explore the outdoors, enjoy delicious restaurants and embrace the culture that’s unlike anywhere else we have been. I also met a wonderful friend while living there, which is probably part of the reason it was my favorite place so far.
3. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your moves?
Thomas and I decided after the first move that we were not going to let the possibility of moving stop us from living our life the way we wanted. At fir
st we would say things such as, “Well, what if we move..maybe we should wait,” regarding if we should buy a house, have children, meet people. We have realized now that if we let the possibility of moving scare us, we will be postponing our life and that’s not what we want.
4. What is some advice you would give to a spouse getting ready to make their first move?
First, realize it’s OK to have mixed emotions. Whenever I find out we’re moving, I go through excitement, then frantically look up everything online I can possibly find out about the new location, then usually head into the nervous and scared phase. Unfortunately for our moves, we usually have a few days to a week from the time we find out we’re moving to when my husband starts his new position, so everything we do is very quick and our only option is to “jump aboard” and start the process. The first thing I would do is look up possible areas to start looking for homes. I always look at the safety statistics, school systems, chamber of commerce websites, and if there are public libraries and convenient shopping.
5. How have your children handled the moves? Where were they born?
Our daughter Claire, was born in Asheville, N.C. in 2011. She has now lived in four homes in three different states. Her first move, she was about 1 and a half years old. Although we were moving 11 hours away fro
m North Carolina to Pennsylvania, she didn’t really have a concept of what was happening and she didn’t seemed too affected. The following moves were when she was almost 3 years old and then again last week at almost 4 years old. She has a harder time with the whole process now that she’s a little older. She met friends and neighbors in the past two locations and still talks about them. She doesn’t understand why “strangers” (realtors, home inspectors, appraisers, possible home buyers) come into our home. She also, like most 3-year-olds, has many, many questions about what is going on. I try to answer her questions as simply as possible and explain that her toys and swing set will be taken to the next house. As long as a 3-year-old knows her toys are coming too, all is right in the world.
Our son Colton, turned 1 last week. He was born in Allentown, Pa. and has now lived in three different houses. He is still young enough that he doesn’t seem affected by our moves. Thankfully, We have not had to find new daycares or baby sitters when we move, which I can imagine would be very difficult.
We also have two dogs, which have been with us along the way since 2009. I think for us, having our dogs at each location is comforting to us as well as our children.
6. How does your extended family handle your moves/you being far away from them?
Thomas and I are from the same hometown in Virginia and we are often “homesick.” It has been difficult for our family and for us to be apart from one another, but they understand this is the career path we have chosen and they support us. We usually travel back to Virginia to visit for most of our vacation time. We use FaceTime and Skype and it helps a lot for the time in between visits. Also, many of our siblings joke about “coming to see the new house, again!” They all joke and ask “Can you send me your NEW address? I have to start a new page for you in our address book!” Although, it is fun to explore the new areas when they come to visit. I think our house guests’ favorite location was Enola, Pa. because it was 30 minutes from Hershey, Pa. We had quite a few visitors
7. Do you have any rituals/traditions around your moves?
I usually take a photo of the truck in our driveway as they are packing our stuff.
9. What is the best way to approach meeting new friends and getting familiar to your new hometowns?
I have found getting involved with story times as local libraries are a good place to meet moms and kids. Also, playing outside and going for walks through your neighborhood is a good way to meet neighbors.
We try to visit Virginia and our family about every other month. Sometimes it’s only a weekend, but we usually leave feeling better. We do hope someday to be able to live near our family and in our home state of Virginia, but for now we have accepted it and are trying to make our new “hometown” feel like home.
-compiled by Emily Robertson