letting go

If we believe that our children are our teachers, the lesson that my children are teaching me is one about letting go.

We are moving.  There is a house about three streets away from our current house, that has always been our “house.” You know what I mean. We walk by it and say, look at that house. It’s so great!  Wouldn’t it be fun to live there?  And then… it came on the market. It turns out it had actually been on the market for a year, then they re-listed it this January at a reduced price, which turned out to be one we could actually afford. It’s MUCH bigger than our current house, gets better light, has an office for me (a room of my own, so to speak) and a huge, amazing kitchen.  It happens to be near a parkway, which, if you’re not from around here, is kind of like a freeway but quieter because there are no trucks allowed, which keeps the price down into our range.  It also has a postage-stamp sized yard, which is actually totally fine with me. I love being outside, but not really so much lounging around my yard. More like hiking, and skiing, and going to the beach. I don’t do these things in my back yard anyway.

The new house is great.  But it’s not the house I brought my baby home to. It’s not the house I was pregnant in. It’s not the house where the kids have spent the last seven Christmases.  It’s not the house I moved into when I was finally ready to let go of the apartment that had sat vacant on 10th Avenue for months before I finally admitted that I really lived with my now-wife in the suburbs.  It’s not the house where our dog was a puppy or our big kids were preschoolers.  It’s not the house that has seen two kids off to their first day of kindergarten and two kids off to their last day of fifth grade.  It doesn’t have the nursery that we lovingly prepared for our whirlwind of a baby.

Leaving our house feels like leaving Bumby’s babyhood behind. He walks now, and points to things he wants, and says, “Mama” at me. He laughs when he farts. He does busy baby work, putting the dishtowel in the dumptruck and his shoe in the dog’s water bowl.  He’s already not that squalling lump of blobby babyness, all breastmilk poops and kittenlike cries.  In fact, I like him so much more now. He’s fun. He’s smart.  He enchants every stranger he meets.  He enchants me, on a daily basis.  But I’m sad that he’s no longer my Blobby, spending long afternoons with me skin-to-skin.

Moving feels like leaving the big kids’ childhood behind. We cleaned the house up last night to get it ready for its listing photos, and every room was a box of memories. Remember when the kids’ friends hit the wall we had just painted with a ping-pong paddle, and the kids made them scrub off the mark because they had worked so hard painting?  Remember when we forgot to open the flue when we were watching Jaws, and the fire department burst in to respond to the smoke alarm?  Remember when one of the kids fell while climbing the front window and had to get stitches?  Remember when I threw a whole gourd into the compost bin, and we went away for a week in the summer, and when we came home a gourd-plant was taking over our entire deck?

Now they are big, all of them. Even little Bumby feels big.  I know that the new house will be its own box of memories, but it’s so hard to let go. And yet, holding onto the house won’t keep Bumby a baby, and it won’t keep the kids small.  The big one will leave for college in 2 years, whether we move or not. The little guy will start middle school next year, whether we move or not.  Bumby will stop nursing and start nursery school, whether we move or not.  So we decided to move – forward.

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the (very) little things

When I first became step-parent to the big kids, I remember being amazed at how much the little things matter.  A little fresh air and some time on the swings could turn around a cranky Sunday afternoon.  Learning that the buzzing sound overhead was an airplane.  That sadly, we would not likely see Spiderman if we spent the afternoon in New York City.

That, times a million, with a baby.  This morning, Bumby was so very, very cranky. He’s got a cold, and his reflux is acting up, so he’s so tired, and wanted to nurse so badly, but he had to wait 30 minutes after taking his Prevacid.  He grabbed onto my legs and looked up with his weepy eyes and crusty nose.  “Up, up!” I picked him up.  A minute later, I set him back down so I could put on my stockings. He writhed around on the floor a little to demonstrate that this was so completely not okay with him. When I stood up, he grabbed my legs again, about to request his pick up.  I watched the wonder dawn on his face as he grabbed ahold of my stockinged legs.  They looked the same, but they WEREN’T.  Why do Mama’s legs feel like this?  What is this stuff?  He laughed. He pulled at it.  He rubbed his hand up and down, over my kneecap, again and again.  Finally, satisfied, he looked up at me, all weepy eyes and crusty nose, but this time with a smile.  “Up, up!” I picked him up again, with a little lift in his mood from the miracle that is stockings.