Hello, old friends: new house, new times

It has been a minute!

Well, I am sitting at my desk on the second floor of our NEW HOUSE and looking at the sunrise. Showered, dressed, and thinking in complete sentences. Getting up early is awesome!

And so is our new house. We love it here. We live in a neighborhood that is like a small town. The locals call it Mayberry. I can’t tell you how fortunate we feel to be here. We are a ten-minute drive over the bridge into the heart of the city, a ten-minute drive in the other direction into the woods of parks and nature reserves. Sidewalks and brick streets and children everywhere. We walk to a cafe, restaurants, the Farmer’s Market, a gorgeous riverfront park—all just blocks away. DH takes a 20-minute walk to work (so we still only have to have one car). On our half-block, there are three other families with children around S’s age, and we’ve already had playdates and potlucks. One family brought us dinner when we first moved in two months ago. Another mowed our lawn. Another brought us bread and salt, so we will never be hungry and our lives will have flavor. The house itself reminds me of something out of It’s a Wonderful Life–a two-story American Foursquare with attic and full basement, built in the 1940s with a big front porch, yards, a lovely dining room. It is absolutely ideal. I just can’t believe we made this happen!

Something has changed in me since we moved in. A sense of peace. A sense of belonging. I keep thinking of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. When belongingness needs are not being met, it is a roadblock to self-actualization. DH and I both feel like we can grow now in ways that we just couldn’t seem to before.

S is blossoming, too. He loves it here. For weeks, when we were out, he would say, “Can we go back to our new house now, Mommy?”

He has changed so much, so quickly. Two and a half. His vocabulary astounds me. He uses words like “frustrated” and “generous,” understands concepts like “true” and “safe.” (He once said to me: “You’re generous, Mommy!” when I gave him a treat. Ha!) Now he is imitating storytelling dialogue structure when he plays, as in, ” ‘I have to go fly now,’ said the airplane,’ ” and makes the plane fly away. His imagination is becoming increasingly complex. While we are at the table, he will imagine that the Farmer’s Market is all around us, or the beach is all around us, or his new imaginary friends (and/or new-house ghosts?) Ardor and Anna are playing with his toys, sharing them nicely. He likes to touch certain points on our heads and faces and necks very gently and murmur made-up words, Ada, Gupa, Lolo, Hama, and it seems as if he is accessing some ancient form of acupressure or reiki or something. His personality continues to take on new aspects. Lately, he has been very motivated to be part of all conversations, inserting himself, gesticulating with his hands in the way that he sees adults do, nodding conversationally like we do. He sometimes has a soft voice, so I often find myself letting people know that he is trying to tell them something, or repeating what he has said in a bit louder voice to the person he is trying to talk to, because I hope to encourage him to continue wanting to engage and connect with others.

Lately, he has been expressing ambiguity, which blows my mind. He will say, “I like Daddy, but I don’t, ” for example, trying to communicate his obvious affection for DH that exists alongside his obvious preference for me. (Preference for Mommy, or the stay-at-home parent, is a natural stage kids go through at this age.)

He and DH got to bond so much lately, as DH had time off from work. The living room forts that they made were epic. The amazing cars made out of cardboard boxes. DH is so good with him, so good, it is almost painful how beautiful it is to hear them playing in the other room. Patient, silly, energetic, encouraging, firm. We are so lucky.

I have cut bangs and lost a lot of weight. One day, I just stood in front of the bathroom mirror in front of our double-sink vanity (two gemstone sinks! am an adult now!) and cut that hair, like I’d been envisioning doing for years. They are thick, hip bangs that I adore. I look younger. The weight came off, and I’m not really sure why. Maybe it was all of the stress of getting this house together!

It was a long, long process. House-hunting was utterly exhausting, and putting in offers nearly killed me, the anxiety. Envisioning one future and the next, only to have to quickly move on. Once we determined that we would go for our favorite neighborhood, we saw this house on Valentine’s Day, put in an offer immediately, and had three months to take care of the insides. DH ripped up every bit of stained, gray carpet at night (still can’t believe he managed to do that). I spent months negotiating with contractors—floor restorers, painters, plumbers, power-washers, and the list goes on—yeah, pretty sure I never want to do that again. We had the hardwood floors restored to a gorgeous buttery-gold. The walls were beat-up, brown, mint, and neutral tones. Seeing the house empty on the day we closed on it, our hearts sank. But I set about to figuring out what atmosphere we wanted to create—truly a far more difficult task than I’d imagined it would be—and we ended up with buttery yellow walls that glow in the sunlight, a gorgeous melon for the kitchen walls, white painted stairwell handrails, dreamy blue for S’s room, and so on. The place, overall, ends up having a clean, natural, beachy look and feel, and the walls take advantage of every bit of sunlight. I had the dark solid wood cabinetry in the kitchen painted bright white, and it was the best $800 we ever spent.

A couple of weeks ago, I unpacked the very last box. (There are still a ton in the basment, but we’ll get to them some other year!) So the walls are totally blank, but everything is put away, has a place.

We recently went camping with friends who have little people S’s age. We stayed in cabins at a campground with a wonderful playground and swimming pool. So many firsts for S—marshmallows over an open fire, and boat ride (he actually steered the boat around and around Lake Arthur, with the help of one friend’s daddy). Also, one of my favorite memories ever: catching lightening bugs for the first time. It was just S and me on the playground at sunset, and we’d come out of this big wooden ship that he loved to find lightening bugs everywhere. I caught one in my hand and showed him, and he gasped. Catching lightening bugs, or simply watching them, was such an important part of my own childhood that I gasped, too, cherishing the opportunity to share this with him. Later that night, after many fun times with his friends, and after engaging with the adults around the campfire (my little man!), I took him inside to sleep and he looked at me with that wide-open expression of his and said, “Mommy, you make me feel safe.”

Is that a normal thing for a 2.5  year old to say? I just wasn’t expecting this level of complexity and emotion at this age. I was taken aback. I said, “I’m so glad, darling boy,” and kissed the top of his sweet, sweet head.

He also says really funny things. Like the other morning, he was snuggling with DH and I, and he caught whiff of DH’s morning breath, which is nearly lethal. “I smell your nose, Daddy,” S said, wrinkling up his own nose. Then he scowled and started going, “Blaahh, blahhh, I smell your nose, Daddy, I smell your nose.”

One morning he tried to very seriously explain something to me, once and for all. “Mommy,” he said slowly, making steady contact, “I don’t like food. Food is too yucky. I just like snacks.”

We started potty training on Friday—the boy has been ready for a long time, but his parents were not. I think if we had been settled I would have done it at age two, or even a little before, because he was obviously interested in it. But—life! We waited until we had a firm, settled foundation, to reduce the stress of it.

And let me tell you, it has all worked out for the best. Because not only is he having very few accidents, he is already telling us when he needs to go. On Day 3, he ran to the potty and went, all by himself, without telling us before or afterward, just like it was no big deal. Once he said, “I have to go potty, one second,” holding up his index finger, as I often say and do—one second—and as he’s running down the hallway, called out, “Be right back!”

He pooped in the potty on his second day of potty training, and we had thought that that was going to take months. He did it easily and happily and then insisted on wiping himself. Pulled his pants up. Done. The look of absolute wonder and surprise on his face when he heard his poop go into the potty. The incredible expression of pride he wore when he looked down and saw what he had done. All three of us went into wild-dance mode afterward, dancing in circles, jumping on the couch. “Right there! Right there!” S said, pointing to the potty as he strutted about.

He did have some poop accidents on the porch and living room, so I’m sure it’s going to take some time to finesse. I’m a little concerned that his preschool is starting up again very soon, but we’ll just have to trust that things will work out okay. He will most likely surprise us with how quickly he adapts. Kids are so brilliant and resilient, we adults really don’t get the half of what they are capable of.

I’ve got to get him up now—am trying to get him on an earlier schedule. New school—this one on a nature reserve!—coming up soon. I hated to leave Waldorf, which was perhaps the ideal loving, nurturing place for him and for us, and where we all made a lot of dear friends, but the expense was too much. Luckily we found a preschool that is just starting up that follows the Reggio Emilia approach and has the kids out in the woods, discovering science and nature. He’ll be there about 9 hours a week until kindergarten…and one of the incredible things about the neighborhood we moved into is that he will be able to go to the very best public schools in the area, beloved by locals.

I will try to write more often, now that I am going to start getting up at 5:30 AM. I  missed this. But it will still not be as often as before, because I have to work on my business plan. The time has definitely come for me to get back to me. More on this soon.

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. So great to hear from you and thrilled that everything is going well for your family! House sounds incredible! S sounds so articulate and self aware!

    Reply
  2. Mary

     /  August 23, 2017

    So glad to hear from you! And thrilled to hear you all are thriving!

    Reply
  3. I just love S’s language development so much! He sounds amazing! And so happy for you that you have settled into your home life.

    Reply
  4. Glad to hear things are going so well! The house sounds incredible – great that you were able to see the potential under all the stains and paint colors. Wow to S’s language – it’s fun to hear kids expressing all these feelings and thoughts.

    Reply

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