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Dawn Damalas Meehan

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Dawn Damalas Meehan is a single mom living in Orlando with her six children, ages 17 to 6. She's the author of Because I Said So and You'll Lose the Baby Weight (and Other Lies About Pregnancy and Childbirth). When she's not blogging, she can be found playing chauffeur, getting buried under a mountain of laundry, or explaining to her kids why they can't have an indoor Slip 'N Slide or a pet squirrel.

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Packing it In

By Dawn Damalas Meehan |

Right now, it looks like we’ll be moving soon. I say “right now” because in the next couple months I could be paid a bazillion dollars to write a sitcom, I could win the lottery, I could meet a single, rich man who wants half a dozen kids, or my ex-husband could decide to get a job and pay all the back child support he owes me. Oh, I crack myself up!

But really, you never know what might happen. Every time I try to make plans, I feel like God laughs at me, so I try to make the best decisions I can with the information I have right now. And then I go with the flow and realize that the best-laid plans sometimes change.

I’m not looking forward to moving because all my friends are here, all my kids’ friends are here, and we like our town.  I don’t want to start all over finding good stores and schools and doctors.  I don’t want to live without Chicago pizza.  And most importantly, I don’t want to pack up seven people’s stuff.  <—That last part has to be said in an annoying whine while stomping your feet to get the full effect.

As much as I don’t want to pack, I resigned myself to boxing up my belongings.  I started in my bedroom today. Now, I’m not a pack rat. I frequently go through our possessions to keep clutter at bay. I throw out, donate, and organize stuff all the time. When seven people live in a house that’s about 1100 square feet, if an item doesn’t serve a purpose, it doesn’t have a place. So, tell me, why is it that I threw away twenty new, blank checkbook registers today? I’ve used the same register for the past ten years because that’s how often I record my banking transactions. Any decade now, I’ll need a new one. It’s a good thing I saved so many of them.

I also weeded out five checkbook covers, two chargers for old cell phones, and nearly fifteen pounds of stationary. The last time I wrote a letter on paper, I was in the third grade. I had three broken hangers because, well, you just never know when you might need a broken hanger to hang up, um, a ah, shirt with one sleeve? I had a dozen boxes with a handful of leftover Valentine’s Day cards in each, and a sandwich bag full of bingo markers, despite the fact I’d gotten rid of the cards a long time ago. I think the most ridiculous best things I found were the half a petrified bagel, the spoon covered with some sort of brown goo, the piece of American cheese that had turned into a rubber coaster, the forty-eight empty fruit snack wrappers, and the rotten apple that had sprouted legs and was chasing me around the bed with a Lego sword.  I know that sounds disgusting, but I have a waterbed and I can’t exactly move it out and clean behind it.  Clearly, I need to get out the yard stick more often.

Tomorrow, I think I’ll tackle the boys’ room.  If you don’t see me around here for a few days, call in the Marines.

image courtesy of Casey Serin

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About Dawn Damalas Meehan


Dawn Damalas Meehan

Dawn Damalas Meehan is a single mom living in Orlando with her six children, ages 17 to 6. She's the author of Because I Said So and You'll Lose the Baby Weight (and Other Lies About Pregnancy and Childbirth). Read bio and latest posts → Read Dawn's latest posts →

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28 thoughts on “Packing it In

  1. Lynn Worley says:

    So how far away are you thinking of moving? Back in 2002 we moved from Anaheim, CA to Seattle, WA with 8 of us. Interesting…one of the people who flew down to help drive the two giant U-Hauls ended up becoming my son-in-law! We didn’t have much time to prepare so we weren’t able to sort much. Getting rid of stuff before you move is much better. Praying that your house sells quickly and that you’ll find a new place to call home that you all love!

  2. Donna says:

    Feeling your pain! We’re in the Foreign Service, so we we move our 4 kids (and the dog and cat) every 3 years or so. I just cleared out the clutter last spring so we could leave Beijing and move to the middle east. But somehow the clutter found its way to Jordan. So, even though we’re not planning another move for a couple more years, I still have to de-clutter about every five minutes. Luckily for me, the dog usually eats the rotten apples before they sprout legs.
    Good luck,

  3. Megan says:

    Good luck Dawn! Packing sucks. Careful of the bubble wrap – after about 100 metres it starts taking the skin off the end of your fingers. Go with the flow as best you can. There are so many of us out here thinking of you and hoping that this turns out to be the best change ever, even if it’s not what you want right now.

  4. Sarah says:

    I’m so very sorry you’re having to go through this. Not clear on exactly why you have to change towns, but that’s your business not mine. :) I’ll just keep praying for your family and hope that you have plenty of positive people around you to help you in this huge mess that Joe got you into. It’s just not right. I hope you have loving, caring, helpful, supportive friends rallying around you and helping you with the packing and more importantly, just listening to you when you need to vent and “be real” for a moment before bucking up and being a positive Mom as you are. You need “me time” and I know that seems impossible, but hopefully you have someone or someones that can kidnap you for a girls’ night out or something. You are such an inspiration and I know your strength and with God’s help you are going to continue to get through this!! You keep on going girl, you’re doing great!!! :)

  5. Korinthia Klein says:

    Moving is hard under the best of circumstances. I’m sorry you’re being put in a position to do it when you don’t want to.

    If you wind up in the Milwaukee area let me know and we’ll give you the short list of the good stores, schools and doctors and even help you carry boxes if that helps.

  6. v1nce says:

    Your family will be fine as long as you’re Mom. You’re awesome and the best thing you’ll ever do is raise those fine kids of yours. In turn they’ll raise fine kids of their own all due to your influence. They’re very lucky! And so is the World.

    Good luck surviving cleaning the boys room! You do have a Hazmat suit, yes?

  7. The Mommy says:

    Blessings, Dawn. I know that you have a very special knack for turning even the crappiest thing into a blessing (most of the time) and I have no doubt that you’ll do the same with this current crappy sitaution of having to move.

    We are considering moving closer to my husband’s work and children’s school but it’s a choice, not a necessity and I think that makes all of the difference.

    Good luck in your sons’ room! Do you know any Marines? Cause maybe you should have one over just in case…

  8. Donna says:

    You will be ok. And think of it this way…..finally a absolute new start! The old house has memories that include Joe, and that has to be hard on the kids and you. A new place is for you and the kids to make your memories and start new traditions.
    My hubby and I, 50ish, are planning to move from Md to Texas where my 2 daughters and our grandkids live (of course the girls are fighting as to whether we move to Houston or Carthage…sibling rivary never dies!). He is on umemployment so that would give us some income after we relocate, but I am leaving a pretty good job, with good benefits. So it’s a scary proposition. And add to that my mom and dad are in MD, and aging, and mom is putting the guilt trip on me. I am looking forward to being near my kids and grandkids, but think of the move as a expedition, an adventure….to places I’ve never been. And while I’ll miss the Atlantic Ocean and the beach terribly, I’ll still head home everyonce in awhile. Besides…..after our snow amounts last year (two blizzards in less than a week) I am so over snow, so I’ll take my chances with hurricanes and tornado’s!
    Good luck Dawn you can do it yes you can!

  9. April says:

    You truly amaze me about your outlook on life. Your children are blessed to have you as their mother. Honestly and truly.
    We haven’t moved since we had just 1 kiddo almost 9 years ago. Now we have 3 (almost 4) and I can’t fathom moving anytime soon.

  10. Meghan says:

    You are so, so brave. For the past 10 years, my husband and I have moved 8 times and the one thing I hate the most about moving is getting rid of junk tht seems to have accumuated from nowhere! I don’t even remember owning half the stuff we clean out, it seems to have walked in to my house for the sole purpose to make me deal with it when I am trying to move!

    Good luck with your move or your sitcom. Truly, I HOPE the sitcom happens for you, but you’ll be in my thoughts either way…


  11. Tracy S says:

    Your second paragraph reminded me of the saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” :) I’ve never been through what you are going through, but I know that God has gotten me through many hard times. Leaning on Him does make it easiER. Not easy, just easier.

    I’ll be praying the the steps you should take would be obvious to you as doors open and close along the way.

  12. Traci whitney says:

    One thing moving is certainly good for is purging! I feel for you though, I expect to be going through the same thing sometime in the next year or so. Making new friends for you and the kids, finding new hotspots, and feeling like a stranger instead of a local, all scary stuff. But at the same time it will be an adventure for you and the kids – finding your new favorite pizza place, new activities for the kids. It will be a fun, exciting time! Savor the experience and use it to make memories. Have fun! :)

  13. Shari says:

    Oh the joys of moving I don’t envy you. I had to laugh though to read about the apple and the Lego sword LOL! I hope things fall into place as you want them to. Take care!

  14. Raynore Jones says:

    Oh man, I sure could have used the checkbook registers and covers. I am ANAL about writing everything down!

    I hope all goes well with your anticipated move. Showering you with prayers.

  15. Jean Leinhauser says:

    Oh wow. Leaving all the friends you and the kids have made is so hard.

    But I just have to say — ir you really really want to sell your house, do it with
    a realator. For sale by owner is a very slow and dicey way to go. I know the
    commission seems like a lot to pay but the benefits are great. And no, I am
    not a realtor! Try it on your own for a bit, but don’t hesitate to interview some

    Praying all will work out for you, and soon.

  16. Mary Themom says:

    Hmmm, I’ve heard it’s Cheaper by the Dozen, maybe you should move closer to your friend with 6 kids! *grin*

    Anyway, no matter where you move, I know you have lots of friends who will be willing to help you find the good places to shop. If you do decide to move to Central Texas you can definitely count on me!

    Mary in TX

  17. Domestic Spaz says:

    The thought of moving gives me the heebie jeebies. But the whole “getting rid of stuff” thing seems like it would be liberating. I think it would take me a year to fully do it in this house. I have had fantasies of getting a dumpster in our front yard so I can just start chucking stuff in it.

  18. Angie says:

    My 2 kids and I moved about 7 months after my ex left me, just moved about 15 miles away, closer to my parents. My ex was moving back into our house, so I left all the crap I didn’t want, for him to deal with! Ahh, and left a few “memory” items for his 18 year old girlfriend to enjoy….ie wedding bouquet, wedding pics, etc….by the way he was 33 at the time. Moving out of that house was the best thing I ever did to get closure and begin moving on. Best of luck to you and your children!

  19. Connie says:

    Did you know…

    Ginos East ships pizza all over the U.S.?

    (Now, I know, I know…us folks can get pretty divided over our preferred deep dish of choice – I’m a Nancy’s pizza girl myself – but knowing that at least one of the famous deep dish spots can meet you wherever you move those boxes to? It’s pretty comforting.)

  20. Rachel says:

    I really hate packing and moving and I am just me, no kids nobody else to pack up! I feel for you! I hope everything works out well.

  21. Jennifer says:

    Dawn, this is TOTALLY your opportunity to move to someplace fabulous and warm like you’ve always wanted! Especially if you can find someplace fabulously warm and also cheap (Chicago does not qualify). Just think of the possibilities!

  22. Nancy says:

    I told my husband that I wish I had money to share at times like this. I would be sharing it with you. Hey I play the lottery.. Maybe Sat!!!!! I will remember you and your clan…

  23. cathy says:

    Move to Iowa! cheap, nice, fun, and lots of sports for the kiddos!

  24. Crystal says:

    You can do it-as hard as it is. We’re military and not only do we move every few years, we are required to keep our household goods weight down, or risk paying the government a LOT of money if we go over what they allow. I, too, am constantly weeding out and organizing, but it doesn’t help when all my little children want to save everything that comes into the house. Good luck to you!

  25. rebecca says:

    So yesterday, I was about to make frosting for a cake I was making for my kindergartener who had just accomplished something big, and I pulled out a pan from my pan cabinet, and took off the lid to discover…um, some sort of food. My twelve yr old suggested that maybe it was stuffing. Hmm, wonder how she knew that, it certainly did not smell like stuffing! Anyway I remembered having stuffing, approxametly 2 Sunday’s ago! Ewwww! I wish I could have found half a bagel, just sayin.

  26. Angie says:

    Moving is hard on kids but having a loving home with a parent who loves them is way more important. Kids will make new friends and they have facebook, and email, and skype, and twitter, and, oh yeah, the PHONE to keep up with their old friends.

    Right now we’re living near Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. It’s about 3 hours south of Chicago. Not the cheapest place to live but it’s a lot cheaper than Chicago-land and the schools are pretty good. If you’re interested in the area, send me an email and I’ll try to help. :-)

  27. Karrie says:

    Move to Nebraska! It is WAY cheaper than Chicagoland. However the weather still sucks.

    I would have paid top dollar for those checkbook registers! I go thru like 4-5 a year :)

  28. Lindsey says:

    I agree with Karrie! Move to Nebraska! :)
    It’s alot cheaper here, there’s tons of stuff for the kids to do, the schools are all great – and did I mention it’s cheaper? She’s right though, the weather still sucks. But it’s not too far from Chicago – only about an 8 hour drive (maybe 10, maybe 12 with 6 kids).

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