That Chris was being relocated there through his job satisfied most of the puzzled faces but the truth is, that's a bit of a fib. He didn't get transferred here - he asked to be transferred here. So now we're back to the original question....why?
To say living costs in Auckland are high might be an understatement. It really depends on your income level I guess and for Chris and I, living costs were more than a little high. I had hoped to be a stay at home mum when I had Charlotte but we were only 10 months into my maternity leave before that bubble burst. I had resigned to the fact that I would need to go back to work after having Michaela but I had hoped we would have lasted longer than the 7 months we did the second time round.
Many mothers choose to work, want to work, love their work - I say - that's awesome! Many mothers choose to stay at home, want to be at home, love being at home - I say, that's awesome too. What's not awesome is being a mother who wants to be at home and is forced to go back to work so her family doesn't end up in terrible debt. What's not awesome is being a mother who stays at home and hates it, becomes resentful of her child and gives up on her dreams to satisfy a societal notion that she needs to be Martha Stewart and not who she is.
The truth is, we tried to stay in Auckland. We really did. We had a strict budget, we gave up hope that we would ever go on a holiday, we accepted seconds for toys and clothes. Chris worked all the overtime he could. We just couldn't do it. We weren't some brave couple taking our children on a courageous adventure outside of our comfort zone. We were pushed. The fear of what might happen to us if we stayed overtook the fear of what might happen if we left. But once we decided to go - we jumped and never looked back. You can't do a half arsed jump out of your comfort zone or you'll just end up crawling back. We did a stock take of our life so far and predicted our direction - the writing was on the wall. We realised the truth - that's it, we have to move.
So Chris looked for an opportunity with his work and there it was. Well actually we had two choices - Dunedin or Invercargill and though I'm sure Invers is just lovely my response was a lively "no" to that prospect. Dunedin was certainly a bit further than we had anticipated to move. I was hoping to ease ourselves away with a move to Tauranga or New Plymouth. Not too far from family, friends and well.....Auckland. Going that far away meant that there would be no quick pop backs to Auckland - this was quitting Auckland cold turkey which is what I'm sure many people thought Chris and I would be, a couple of cold turkeys ruing the day they left the greatness of Auckland.
Truth be told, if my best friend hadn't coincidentally moved to Dunedin 6 months previously then we may not have gone through with it (nice one universe). Having at least one contact down here was probably the one thing that pushed our decision over the line towards a yes.
So yes we moved and no I haven't fallen off the face of the planet but for many Aucklanders I suppose I might as well have. Because that's all I heard when I was preparing to leave - "but that's soooo far away", and "it's soooo cold down there". I have to admit, the cold did concern me. I don't cope well with feeling cold and I'm pretty sure I was a princess somewhere tropical in a past life. So now that I'm here I have to say...........it's actually not that cold. Honest to god it's not. Perhaps it was because everyone told me how freezing I was going to be that I came down expecting it to be near arctic conditions and that I'd need to walk around in full snowsuits every day. I suppose it helps that we live in a house with really good heating. So yeah, I throw on an extra layer. Now and then if I'm being extra Auckalndy I wear a hat or a scarf (gasp!). What a lot of you in Auckland don't know is that Dunedin is incredibly sunny (well it has been since I got here). It's been remarkable blue sunny skies most days since we arrived - making winter (no matter how cold) seem much less like winter. Dunedin winter should almost be called something else in my mind. It's not like winter here - well, it's not like an Auckland winter anyway.
Ok fine, but it's still REALLY far away. Well you got me there and yes, I have struggled with missing my friends and family. It's been made much easier though by living in an incredibly friendly town. Seriously, the people are lovely. The neighbour even came and said hello to me when I arrived (this is quite shocking for an Aucklander). AND - it turned out that she works as a teacher at the Playcentre I enrolled the girls at. It's a small wold when you live in a small town. Not that I'd class Dunedin as a small town but sure it's smaller than Auckland. On my third day here I went to PaknSave (yes they have one here LOL) and it was crazy busy. Every checkout had an extremely long line. I joined one and looked around and noticed the strangest thing. The people in the lines were talking to each other. Seriously. No one was complaining about the wait or the lines. They chatted to each other and simply waited for their turn. When in Rome right? So I chatted with the mum in front about her girls and I told her about mine.
My sister may be the only one who gets this line "yesterday I was a witch's cat, today I'm a kitchen cat". It's a line from a book called Gobbolino the Witch's cat. Gobbolino didn't want to be a witch's cat he wanted to be a kitchen cat and at the beginning of the story he gets his wish. He goes on to have all sorts of adventures after being a kitchen cat but I can totally relate to his experience of living one life one day and another the next. As soon as I arrived in Dunedin I became a stay at home mum after being a disgruntled working mum for a long time. Yes it's a bit cold and yes I miss you all and yes, I'm also living my dream. I have gone from a life of pushing the girls out the door to start daycare at 7:30am, picking them up at 5:30pm, getting home just after 6pm, dinner, bath and into bed for it all to start over again. The house constantly looked burgled. Washing mountains were everywhere. I was too exhausted in the evenings to do much and the weekends were the two days life had allocated us to maybe have some meaningful time with our children. We weren't living life, we were surviving in a rut.
Now the girls and I have a leisurely breakfast and get to Playcentre at 9:30am. We have fun together among the playdough, paint and the sandbox. I chat with other mums, help look after babies and enjoy being a part of the centre community. We come home for chilled afternoons drawing or scootering in the back yard. The girls help me make dinner which I actually have time to prepare. I do the washing daily, I clean the house, I vacuum, beds get made. We get to spend the weekends exploring Dunedin. This is the life I had wanted and although Auckland is a great city - there's nothing there that I haven't found down here except for my friends and family.
I don't mean to diminish the bonds I have in Auckland, really. I love and miss you all. I just wanted to write this piece to let you know that we are ok. More than ok. We are thriving down here and I'm so glad that we went kicking and screaming out of our comfort zone to go for the life we want.
With much love and fond memories
Bron (the kitchen cat).