Day 4

With Labor Day over, the contractors are back to work – ripping up the floors, I think. (They’ve already taken away at least 3 loads of debris from this project. Whew!)

I have a shirt with the word “EMPOWERED” on the front. I feel like I should wear it today in honor of my daughter’s first day of preschool. Rosey’s a brave girl. She protects her big brother from monsters in the dark of night. And, buckling her own seat belt on her first drive to her first day of formal education, she was all smiles, not a worry in the world. Which is fine because I was doing all the worrying for her.

When Augie went off on his first day of preschool I couldn’t wait to get rid of him. I feel guilty about that fact. It wasn’t his fault, I just still hadn’t come to grips with my life as PARENT and the lack of change-the-world-ness (and glory) it entails. I was still in denial, refusing to accept that being a mom was my identifying purpose at the moment, and refusing to accept that embracing it could ever be a good thing. I am not in the same place now (thank you, Jesus) but that causes other pain: it makes me ache for my snuggly daughter to be back in my arms at the end of today, and it makes me mourn the time I wasted not feeling that way about my son.

will have you know that the first couple years of learning to parent weren’t all bad, even if I was being a butt. The contractors ripping up the floors today reminds me of one of my favorite memories…

We are at our previous house, Augie and I, sitting on the kitchen floor eating yogurt out of the carton, sharing a big spoon. Augie is probably 18 months old, with blond wispy hair still and those big gorgeous blue eyes, and lots of giggles ensue as we share the spoon back and forth at our own private party.

I look forward to remaking that memory in this house when our new floors get done.

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Day 2

I know I’m going to adore our new kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom, but I have to admit it, I’m really enjoying having a smaller house for a time.

In order to remodel we had to downsize by about 30%, and it was actually the 30% that we spent most of our time in. The back half of our house includes a large kitchen, a large laundry room and an enclosed sunporch, which my husband uses as an office. All the kids’ toys were in the laundry room since it’s so big (and we could close the door at the end of the day if we didn’t want to clean it up). And I often did my graphic design work from the kitchen table so as to be close when the kids started yelling about something, as kids do.

So now that all of that is quarantined, we find ourselves in much closer quarters elsewhere. The dining room table starts out as classy breakfast space and then, quickly cleaned, turns into the kids’ new toy playground. Yesterday afternoon my husband and daughter played with her ponies on the couch while he also watched the Penn State game on mute and I read a magazine, all in the same room.  Last night our whole family was in the bathroom for 45 minutes, kids playing in the bath while my husband and I did dishes, our clothes-drying rack housing both swimsuits and plates (I knew there was a reason that bathroom is too big).

And with all of this what I’m noticing is not the heated jostle for space that I expected but a kindness, a consideration, even a rise in cuddliness and connection amongst our family (especially the guys).

My son, August, has never been the cuddly sort. Not even as a baby. But I have noticed in the past that he has a lot more patience with himself and is prone to laugh a lot more when he’s gotten some physical affection (hugs and kisses, hair ruffles and smiles) from me. He never initiates it like my daughter does, but, man, does he respond. And in close quarters, those things are happening much more.

I also suspect that without a third of our house to clean and travel through to get from one place to another we’re actually getting more time back, which is kind of funny to think about. If you have a bigger house you have to walk a lot more. It takes 15 steps to put something away instead of 3. Right now I can break down recycling boxes, boil water for tea, get juice from the fridge, and use the microwave by taking only one step in any direction. I’m saving so much time!

So, again, I look forward to the new stuff (a kitchen floor that’s not sinking into the ground, cabinets that aren’t falling apart, walls that don’t leak heat in the winter, and another toilet, THANK GOD for another toilet!) but I’m also enjoying the hidden blessings of togetherness amongst the mess.

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