Yesterday we left our first house for the last time. 2003 was a big year for Dan and I; we got married on September 12th, found our house on October 13th and moved in on November 14th, the day my dad died. In this house we have done quite a lot. Here is some what I've done and a little of what I've learned.
Being married is a lot harder than I thought it would be. Being married is the hardest relationship by choice that I will ever have, it is worth it. It's hard and ugly and ultimately worth while. We are two children of divorce learning to function as a unit and that takes lots and lots of time. The worthiness of marriage is a lesson that Dan and I learn and unlearn on a regular basis.
Here I learned that being a full time stay at home mom isn't for me. Ten minutes later I learned that I was pregnant. With twins.
Two is the number of times your husband can bounce 1/2 inch dry wall off of your pregnant head before you pass out. As a result, we've learned that drywalling is one of the few services you should pay someone else to do.
There is a very delicate balance between the parenting my mom had to do because she was single and had to work and the parenting I wanted to do that involved doing everything for Aidan because I had to do everything myself as a child. As a result of this discovery, Aidan learned to make sandwiches and take care of himself as I shouted directions to my then 8 year old from the couch where I was on bed rest. If not for the twins Aidan might be completely without life skills.
Bed rest should be called couch arrest; bed rest sounds lovely, couch arrest is awful.
In this house I learned that I can't have anymore children if I don't want to die (I don't). I've learned that I was right; three is one too many kids! But, I've also learned that three kids are exactly what works for me and twins are a blessing. You should learn that, true as that may be; never say it to a twin parent! I've discovered that you can have many close, intimate relationships and yet no one may notice when you fall into full-blown post-partum depression because they are distracted by the pretty babies and the fact that parenting twins is overwhelming. Luckily, I learned a lot from that experience. Most importantly, to share your experience. We are all sisters. Motherhood is the single most difficult thing you will ever take on; the hours are long and the paychecks suck. The benefits are pretty good, but they come with a ton of bodily fluid and a fair amount of dark days. In high school they teach you how to parallel park and find square roots, no one tells you how hard being a mom is. So share your experiences with your friends and young or new moms. Pretending it is easy helps no one, least of all you.
When I moved to Batavia I had one friend here and knew no one else. Yesterday when I pulled away there were three women crying in their kitchen windows because we have spent the last 9 years bonding over a myriad of things. The things that I've learned from the three of them are many, here are a few.
You can make friends even if (unbeknownst to you) your relationship started when one of you made fun of the other one bending over in the garden; thanks Maria, you have made me hyper-aware of my butt. I promise to always strive to keep it aimed away from the street. Nothing, and I mean nothing, bonds you like mothering, except maybe losing a parent. Sometimes just knowing someone else is in the boat with you helps you sleep at night. Thank you, Maria.
In a different world Cathi and I would have passed each other in the grocery store. Because I lived in this house we have raised four of our combined five children together from birth. The first time Cathi came to visit I wouldn't let her in because I wasn't wearing a bra. I was pretty sure she wouldn't be back, luckily for me, I was wrong. We have shared the highs and lows of parenting, something I desperately missed with my first child, and we have been able to support each other when we have felt like crazy people, bad moms, bad wives, and tired shadows of our former selves. Because we are so different in personality, I think we have learned a ton of new and improved parenting techniques from each other.
Tricia and I have lived on the same block, 3 houses apart for 9 years. For 8 years we waved; we've been friends for 9 months. In the time it takes to grow an infant, I've added someone to my list of friends that I know will still be there when I'm 60. You don't need to be friends forever to be forever friends.
It is a privilege to live in a neighborhood with so many people who I know, in my heart of hearts, would answer any phone call from me at any time of day or night and rush to help. I know because that is how I feel about each of them. These people are my family, I can't yet imagine living away from them. I love them, I love their kids, I love their husbands. I have drank from their moonshine, shared their sorrows and joys and they have seen me at my best and my worst. I already miss them so much it hurts. They are, by far, the very best of Batavia. If you ever need a home; I recomment Brandywine Circle with my whole heart. If I had a pair of ruby slippers, Maria, Cathi and Tricia would be my tin man, my scarecrow and my lion.
In this house I've watched my son grow from a small, timid six year old into a wonderful, amazing, funny near-man. He constantly surprises me with his dead-on intuition and his whip smart sense of comedic timing. If I was a teenager he would be my best friend.
In this house I grew two children in my body at one time. Here I have cried with panic over their existence, wept with joy at their amazing health. I came home with Dan from the hospital without my tiny miracles and thought I would die from a broken heart. Then, I cried when they came home and I realized I couldn't take them back to the hospital! I've watched them reach milestone after milestone all well ahead of full-term babies. I've panicked about being able to tell them apart and learned that, to me, they look nothing alike. I've fallen into routines of crazy (like bathing two babies in under 4 minutes in my kitchen sink) that have had to be gently pointed out by my bff (Shawna) so I could slow down and enjoy the moment. I've passed out, exhausted, into my bed and wondered how I would do it all again tomorrow. I watched with shocked horror as my 9 month old Gracie stood and walked away from me and then with no surprise at all when her sister did the same a month later. By their first birthday I had forgotten how to feel shocked at anything. In the last 6 years they have offered up a host of firsts and lasts and they have turned into amazing, capable girls in their own right. I had no idea that genetic clones could be so different, but I love that part. They still exhaust me, but they have grown from life sucking amoebas into gifted, funny, kind people. They are so fun now I can barely take it sometimes.
In this house I utilized and honed all of the home owning skills I learned from my mother; decorating, painting, hammering, creating something beautiful with no money and little time, this list is unending.
I planned and built, re-planned and re-built my first garden. I found and adopted a family of people in the form of the Batavia Plain Dirt Gardeners. They have given me a break from my kids, a place to be needed, and a circle of friends that I could not do without. I am heart broken that I will live too far away to ever be on our garden walk. What started as a hobby I had learned from my Grandma many years previous became first an escape from crying babies, and then a passion and finally; something of a career.
A year ago I brought home my mother from a hard stay in the hospital to live with my family. It was a decision we both made with some amount of trepidation. It was the best decision I've ever made. I am endlessly thankful to Dan who didn't even blink. It gave us time; something I didn't know then that there wasn't much of left. It isn't easy to live as an adult with your mom. I imagine it isn't easy as a mom to live with your adult child, especially not for someone as independent and capable as my mom. Old patterns rear their ugly heads, feelings get hurt, concessions must be made. I can't explain to you how glad I am that we ended up together. It gave us a chance to work on some of our issues and it gave her the same time to bond with the girls that she had enjoyed when Aidan was little. Without my mom in the house, I wouldn't have been able to grow my tiny business, I was lucky to have someone I trusted implicitely to stay with my kids. My kids were lucky to spend time with her. I will be grateful for every single solitary moment I gained that I wouldn't have gotten otherwise, up to and including the sickening fall that took her via ambulance from my house to the hospital where my whole world went dark. The hardest part of leaving this house is that it is the last place my mom was. My mom is with me always, but it is hard to not have a physical place to use as a memory reference, it feels a little like I am leaving her. Our new house is the first place I've ever been that doesn't have some direct connection to my mom, it is a strange feeling. Even dead, my mother's voice is constantly whispering in my ear, it is more infinitely more welcome than her actual opinions were, but it isn't the same, I hope her voice moves with me.
When I moved into this house I was reading "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown every night to six year old Aidan. It is one of Gracie and Olivia's favorties. Many days I read it to them now. It feels appropriate to end my time here the way I began it; reading a beloved book to six year olds.
..."In the great green room there was a telephone and a red balloon and a picture of- The cow jumping over the moon and there were three little bears sitting on chairs and two little kittens and a pair of mittens and a little toyhouse and a young mouse and a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush and a quiet old lay who was whispering, 'hush.' Goodnight Room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon. Goodnight light and the red balloon. Goodnight bears. Goodnight chairs. Goodnight kittens and goodnight mittens. Goodnight clocks and goodnight socks. Goodnight little house and goodnight mouse. Goodnight comb and goodnight brush. Goodnight nobody. Goodnight mush. And goodnight to the old lady whispering 'hush.' Goodnight stars. Goodnight air. Goodnight noises everywhere."
Goodnight mom, goodnight neighbors, goodnight house. I thank each of you and I miss you all.