My family’s journey to Seattle has marked our lives in more ways than we could have imagined. After searching for a school that fit my husband’s desire to engage theology and social justice, and to also provide training for mental health counseling, we discovered The Seattle School. After visiting, we felt sure that this was the place we needed to be.
We started to make our plans for this transition, which involved quitting our jobs, spending four months working as seasonal farm and vineyard hands in New Zealand, and moving 2,000 miles from Arkansas away from family. Just after turning in our resignations, purchasing our (non-refundable) international flights, and signing the letter of intent for The Seattle School, we were met with an unexpected disruption. We had no plans of having kids anytime soon but found out we were accidentally 10 weeks pregnant in the midst of this already substantial change.
After receiving the news of this giant interruption, although many of those close to us advised otherwise, we were determined to proceed with our current plans of going to New Zealand and moving to Seattle. Although we were in shock and, at first, devastated, we chose to pursue what we believed was the next step in our calling.
Nine months later, after traveling to New Zealand and giving birth in Arkansas, we arrived in Seattle with our 4-week-old son, right before the beginning of the fall term. Days later, I was offered a job in the Admissions Department at The Seattle School. I had no idea before moving here that I would be connected in this way to The Seattle School community. As we began to navigate a new city, new jobs, a new school, and a new baby, the school became a place of grounding for us. Amidst the chaos, this was the one place we could both connect and relate.
My son and I joined my husband in the back of the Large Classroom for his first two classes (spouses and partners can audit classes) and we learned together as a new family unit. Most of my memories of sitting in classes together involve rushing inside because I was running late or stepping out because we were too noisy, but I was still filled by what I was able to take in. Now the school has grown into our extended family in a way—classmates have become babysitters, The Commons has become a playground, and every time we bring our son in the building another set of hands asks to hold him.
I’d love to say that this transition has been easy, but it has been more challenging than anything I’ve done before. Things have not been simple. There have been a lot of juggling schedules, little amounts of sleep, and many overwhelming days. But there has been so much beauty here as well. We’ve found new rhythms—weekly farmers market visits, walks along Lake Washington, and running at the Arboretum (with our jogging stroller). When we have free weekends, we strap on our baby carrier and go on hikes near the Cascades or adventure at a new city park. There is so much natural beauty here that is easily accessible and kid-friendly. Since we’re living on a graduate school budget, we are thankful for all of the free places we can continue to explore.
If you’re considering moving across the country to attend The Seattle School with small children, you can do it! There will be sacrifices and challenges, but also new joys as well. Remember what you’re passionate about as you’re taking on a substantial amount of new responsibilities. Talk to your partner or friends about what you’re excited about learning and find a support system to cheer you on. Make space to rest and find “your places” that allow you to feel more at home (whether it’s a farmers market, the water, or a favorite coffee shop). Give yourself abundant grace! Acknowledge the good work you are doing and know that you cannot do it all.
If you ever need some encouragement in your transition with a family, please reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) anytime!