Our first move was when our son was only one year old. This was a temporary move to Canberra for my husband’s job in 1973. Canberra was very much a public service town. Many moved to Canberra on transfer to further their careers, with the intention of moving “back home” as soon as they could. There was a caravan of cars leaving Canberra for Sydney on a Friday night. The Public Service was hierarchical – you knew who to socialise with because of their classification. But we were not Public Service. No-one knew where we belonged in the social hierarchy.
We lived in a small house in a convenient location. BUT…I had only one neighbour! Our street had only four houses. Ours was the last one in the row. On one side was a large oval – great for our toddler to run around on, but no neighbour on that side. Over the road was the oval for the local primary school, so no neighbours. I was at home with a small child, no way of meeting people, and only one neighbour. I did try for some part time work, and access to limited child care facility, but it did not work out. And I was pregnant with our second child.
I was lonely!
After around eleven months, we moved back to Melbourne with our toddler plus the new baby. Here we knew our neighbours, had an established network of friends, and family. This only lasted fourteen months though, and we were on the move again – this time to Adelaide.
I had learnt a lesson from our time in Canberra. I had realised that people already had established networks, and it was up to me to find friends, not wait for them to find me. So when I saw neighbours out in the street talking (gossiping?) I headed out to introduce myself. This did not come naturally to me, but I had learnt that I needed to make contact with those around me, or repeat the miserable experience of our time in Canberra.
I found another approach for meeting people during the early days of our time in Adelaide – I became a Tupperware Lady! This meant that I was not always stuck at home with two young children; I got to meet new people; I grew as a person and gained confidence in new situations.
Our later moves were different. Both our children were at school. They made friends, and I met their parents. But the real difference was that I was now back working – I had contact with work colleagues, some of whom became friends rather than acquaintances. Because I was out all day, with significant mental stimulation, I was not lonely and miserable.
One last move – children grown and no longer at home, now retired and without the work environment as an established network around us. But that is a story for another time perhaps.