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The Requisite Number Of Tears: The Hidden Stress Of Moving

Categories Moving Again (And Again), Moving to Dubai2 Comments

So. Let’s talk about moving-related tears, at least for me. It seems I have a requisite number of tears I must shed every week. Sometimes they are shed all on one afternoon at a particularly crowded grocery store; sometimes they are spread over a week. They are 100% due to stress. This happened on my move to Singapore, and it is happening now. I cannot remember if I was this way when I did a suburb-to-suburb move while in Chicagoland, but back then I was in a baby-induced brain fog, so who knows?

Whether you move near or far, you have to start over in some necessary ways. Things that used to be easy are suddenly hard. For example: grocery shopping. You know your usual grocery store by heart; you have a routine down, and you know where to look for everything. The faces of the staff are somewhat familiar; you even recognize that hard-working, cart-collecting guy, and wonder if he enjoys what he does or not, as he seems to. When you move to a new city, you have to try out grocery stores to find your new favorite. You have to walk the whole place over and over until it becomes familiar; ha, this doesn’t actually sound so hard. When you are trailed by little tired feet topped with whiny mouths begging for cookies, it is hard. Your list becomes negotiable; if you forget the beans and they are on the opposite side of the store, you will just have to make something else for dinner, because going all the way back would produce car-alarm-like screams from the little darlings. Over time you get comfortable, but the stress is directly proportional to the size of the store and the crowds within, and how much you are missing your family and friends back home.

Then there is the gem of a find you get very excited about, but it doesn’t materialize. Case in point: Julius Meinl Café. This place is awesome. It is an Austrian café, and it reminds me of my study abroad stint in Salzburg, Austria. There is one in Chicago, AND THERE IS ONE IN DUBAI! AT A MALL I ALREADY KNOW! But where am I writing this post right now? At a Japanese café called Yamanote.


It is very nice, but it is not Julius Meinl. I even did my web research ahead of time, saw that it opened in 2012, and contained a gourmet grocery store as well (!). I found it on the mall map I keep in my purse (the Dubai Mall is massive—more on that later), and even though the cab dropped me off at the opposite side of the mall that I requested, I did not lose hope. I walked my sore tootsies all the way over and…. Nada. Nothing there. No clue why. Sigh… I did find a Red Lobster though, lol.

Red Lobster


Yesterday, the kids and I packed into a cab after nap time and tried to find a library that was inside a nearby mall. It was supposed to be some sort of wonderful little creative arts center as well; it sounded great! We were again dropped off at the opposite side of a different, but also very large, mall. After trekking with my crabby kiddos all the way there, wrong turn after wrong turn, stopping briefly to watch Alvin and the Chipmunks doing a little song and dance show on a stage in the middle of the mall, we found it closed. It is only open from 12-4 each day. Maybe these are just summer hours, I don’t know. I do know it is run by volunteers only, so maybe it has minimal hours because of this. I should have done my web research, but OMG I get so freaking tired of web researching my every move in a new city.

And therein lies the reason for the tears. They build up over the course of the week generally, and let loose when I read a sad Facebook post or when a character dies in a book or tv show I enjoy. They also sometimes let loose when poop is pouring out of Kiddo 2’s diaper (apparently boys are quite susceptible to toddler soft stool issues which are unlikely to go away until age 5…sigh…), and I need to sanitize a dozen locations in the temporary home with limited cleaning supplies, as well as keep Kiddo 1 from accidently stepping in it.

So yeah. Moving is hard. And not for the big reasons. Getting a new bank, new home, new car, new school—those things are all stressful but they are finite. The multitudinous minutiae, which fall on my shoulders as the stay-at-home-mom, go on and on and cover all aspects of daily life. They are the real difficulty. Finding the new doctor, dentist, hair dresser, babysitter, great breakfast café, dry cleaner that won’t ruin your clothes, grocery store that has everything on your list, coffee shop with wifi but no shisha smoke…yes, some problems are a bit different here in Dubai, but they are the same general problems encountered with any move.

The other compounding issue with moving to a new country is communication. Even with Singapore and Dubai, where English is the language of business and is spoken by nearly all, communication can be hard. It’s a lot of “catch no ball,” as they say in Singapore; your meaning is just not understood sometimes. For example: Kiddo 2 locked himself in the bedroom during naptime (for the second time). It has a key lock from the outside, so I had to call the hotel operator for help. I asked for a key to the bedroom, as my son had locked himself inside. A nice lady came up to give me a new key card for the hotel room. Sigh. Kiddo 2 started wailing, I called down again, and finally got someone up to the room with a master key. Communication is tricky sometimes, and it makes me try to avoid having to do it at all. Any new thing you must do will require a certain load of stress, which will result in more inevitable stress-tear shedding. But! I am now meditating for 10 minutes daily with the Headspace app, so I think I will be able to manage my stress a little better from here on out. We are still very new to Dubai, only 2.5 weeks in so far. One thing at a time, all the routines will be put in place, all the services will be found, the grocery stores will be mentally mapped, and who knows? I might even find that Julius Meinl café. In the meantime, I think my coffee might finally be cool enough to drink. :)

I hope you all out there are doing well today. :)

Jennifer Jasensky is currently a New Jersey resident, formerly a resident of Dubai and Singapore, and a Chicagoland native. A former mathematics teacher and dancer/choreographer, she is an outgoing homebody and perpetual idealist whose love of learning knows no bounds. She hates writing bios, so that's all you get. :D

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