Loss: Moving as a Child

I wanted to do a post about moving.  One of the losses on our list is this:  Did you move more than twice by the age of 10?  I did.

I got distracted while writing this, because I wanted to find pictures of where I lived.  And I did!  So then I had to send them to my sister Beth.  And then we had to a little remembering.

So back to this post …

We moved a bunch when I was still to young to remember.  I was born in Idaho, then we moved Washington, then Oregon, and then North Dakota all before age four.

The log house I lived in in Minnesota.

The first move I remember was to Minnesota when I was 4 or 5 years old.  My dad was a forest ranger and we lived in a really great log cabin that was built in 1935 out of 16-18″ diameter logs.  We lived in the middle of nowhere on the boundary waters between Canada and the US.  I went to a tiny school with only 12 students per class.  We had to walk to school through the woods and during deer hunting season we were bused or had to wear safety vests so the city slickers wouldn’t shoot us.   The garbage dump was the most exciting place around because tourists from the city would get out of their cars with a small bag of marshmallows and feed them to the black bears who were looking for food.  They didn’t understand not to mess with wild animals that weigh a couple hundred pounds more than they do.

We moved suddenly to Chicago when I had just turned 9 years old.  My dad had quit his job and dumped us (my mom, sister and myself) at his parents’ house in the middle of winter.  This is a period of time my family really never talked about much.  We referred to it as “dad’s mental breakdown”. He travelled south through Texas and finally ended up finding a job in Southern California and he supposedly figured out what he wanted in life.  So until then we were stuck with my grandparents who hated my mother.

When we went to school in Chicago we were told to lie about this being temporary, because my mother was afraid they would not accept us in school.  So I spent my time trying to stay low and be quiet and not add to the stress.  The school I went to in Chicago was huge.  It was three stories high and the classes must have had well over 30 kids in them.

I lived upstairs in back. This was a four-plex apartment building.

Six weeks later, and the week before Christmas, I found myself enrolled in a school in Southern California, which was our new home.  We now lived in an apartment.  My mother had to go to work almost right away to help support the family.

All that moving as a child forced me to withdraw, stay quiet and taught me not to make friends.  I learned to stay away from my parents and I felt alone.  It also taught me to rely on myself, which isn’t a bad thing, but I should not have had to do so at age 9.



Email:  cee@cee-chris.com

22 Replies to “Loss: Moving as a Child”

  1. I did move more than once by the age of 8. From New Brunswick to Athens, Ontario when I was 6. From Athens to Bowmanville when I was 7. From Bowmanville to Oshawa still at the age of 7. Then between age 7 and 8 to live with relatives for a short time still in Oshawa. Then finally at the age of 8 we moved to another place where we stayed until I was almost 18. That could explain my lack of building friendships very young couldn’t it? I hadn’t thought of that before! Between the age of 6 and 8 I had not made any friends, because I wasn’t in one place long enough. Wow! This is a revelation for me! Thank you Cee!


  2. I’ve moved more times than I can count as a child, but it had the opposite effect on me. I learned to adapt more easily to new situations and became more open than my introverted nature wanted me to be.


  3. What a great cabin! And watching people feed bears must have been peculiar. 😮 I have lived in the same street (in two houses) until I turned 43 and then straight to Tuscany. 🙂 If I saw a bear in nature, I’d be terrified.

    I’m glad to see that both of you have embarked together on this meaningful journey.


  4. I moved 4 times before age 10. The second move was from a private house in Chevy Chase, MD with a yard and a dog
    Skippy to NYC and a small apt house, then a bigger one, then a smaller one. The hardest thing was leaving Skippy — since there was a big secret in my family and the moves were related to that secret, the loss of the dog was never explained. But the loss of my father at age 10 was of course the biggest loss.


  5. I also moved a lot when I was a kid and when people ask me where I’m from I say “Its complicated.” My dad was a musician and an alcoholic who had to work day jobs that he hated. I was super shy as a kid but when I was 16 I was an exchange student to Bolivia and I decided I could be whoever I wanted to be when I got there and I didn’t want to be shy anymore. I worked really hard to overcome my shyness and now people don’t believe me when I tell them that I am. It has helped me a lot in my subsequent travels and challenges. I’m really enjoying this blog.


    1. It sounds like you had a wonderful time in Bolivia … it most certainly changed your life and you were ready and open for it. I’m so glad you are enjoying this blog. Thanks Jeanette for sharing a piece of yourself.


  6. We moved 60 times before I was 14. I can’t EVEN begin to tell you how it messed me up. I went to more schools than I even care to think about. After age 14 we moved six more times, fun times in Jr and Sr high!
    I am still a major work in progress and have a challenging, to impossible time, making friends, but I keep trying.
    I’m so sorry for what you went through as a child; I don’t think parents can even begin to grasp the problems, so many moves cause their kids. But… at the same time, when you are past dirt poor, work wherever you can find it (and farm your kids out when they are still basically babies), what’s left except starvation?
    Anyway, I’m not complaining; I just wanted to say, I knew the feeling and empathize, although I never felt I was capable of self-reliance until I was much, much older.
    Thanks for sharing, and “listening.”


      1. Thank you so much, Cee. It obviously contributed to who/what I am today, but I can’t help but wonder how different I would be had my childhood been different.
        Thank you for your offer, I may take you up on it!


  7. I moved alot when I was younger. I went from London, to Shropshire, to Swansea, now I’m in Aberystwyth, Wales and getting ready for my last move at 22! Thankyou for this post! I don’t feel so alone!


    1. That is a lot of moves at your young age. All the moves must have made life alternating changes in your life. No you are not alone. That is the thing with loss in your case moving a lot, we are taught not to talk it and that only causes us to isolate. Thanks for commenting.


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