Saturday, February 25, 2012

The search for space

One of the things we find ourselves discussing around here a lot is the need for more space. We each have a list of ideas and "must-haves" for our next house. And it's practically a Sunday afternoon ritual to all pile in the van and troll the neighborhoods we like for an open house or two. (Remind me, in future blogosphere discussions, to tell you what a kick we get our of giving realtors fake names. Our current favorite: Bob and Amy Duncan. You Good Luck, Charlie fans will get that. Teddy, Gabe and Charlie are usually mortified.)

Perhaps you read my husband's musings about space on Man Cave Monday. Sad story, isn't it? I mean, I'm watching him now, snuggled--asleep--under a blanket on the couch, his David Baldacci book about to slide to the floor, and think, "Does he really NEED a man cave?" But then, it hits me: if he has that man cave he keeps talking about, would he stop trying to use the pretty pillows to sleep on?" (Note to self: contact realtor asap.)

 The idea of more space began in earnest about five and a half years ago. I was carrying my third child, that small-but-mighty ball of energy, who was due in December of that year. I wondered how, when we took up every inch of space in our 1507 square feet of paradise, we would shift to make room for another person’s things.  Who would share a room with whom? Where would the new toys go? Would we really need new toys? Then there was the reality of moving from a one-on-one to a zone defense; the children would now outnumber the parents. What if they were to lock us in one of these small rooms and not let us out?

Incidentally, that child turned five in December. Five—do you hear me?! She came into the world on her due date and has done things her way ever since. (After a longish labor, she finally decided she was ready and I delivered her, unassisted, before the L&D nurse could even find gloves. My husband and my doula caught her as she skidded across the bed.) She’s a firecracker, I’m telling you.
My space worries needn’t have caused me any concern­—we still occupy the same space we did five years ago. But there are days when I think we simply have to move before sundown. I dream about a laundry room with a utility sink. I covet walk-in closets and a big pantry. Don’t even get me started on a master suite or I will cry out loud. And now, with the onset of Pinterest, there are untold pretty spaces to long for that I've yet to discover and re-pin.
But the truth is, I would find it so hard to move from this home. Our beloved cat, Phineas, who lived with us here for 11 years, is buried in the front yard. I brought all these people home from the hospital to this house, nursed them in this living room, watched them take their first steps right here. The playhouse my dad (better known as Paw Paw) built in the back yard a few summers ago still needs painted. I can’t let some other family take ownership of the playhouse. Not when I have pictures of my four-year-old son (now eight!) clambering up the ladder to sit beside Paw Paw on the roof and hammer nails. Even this afternoon, my daughter and niece are out in the playhouse making mud pie sandwiches. My two older children are sitting side by side on the couch, watching Return of the Jedi. Meanwhile, I'm eyeing with disdain, a group of teens on the street in front of my house, as they keep inching closer and closer into my driveway, without thought or boundary. I'm fighting the urge to shout, "Get off my lawn, derelicts!" The only thing stopping me is Kevin's nostalgic story about doing the same thing when he was that age.
"You stood around with eight other teenagers on your neighbor's lawn, uninvited?" I asked.
"That's probably why she opened the front door and shouted, 'Get off my lawn, derelicts!' to the lot of you."
However, we are moving at a rapid pace toward those years when teenagers gather in our kitchen, eating us out of house and home. We want to welcome them, have space for them. Plus, we would just love a nice big porch, a fine deck, and on, and on.
Still, I’m astounded by the amount of love and energy that can live in 1507 square feet of space. These three progeny I nurture here are bright, wonderful people. Do they fuss and fight when things feel crowded? Yes. Do they complain when someone jumps in the shower first? Yep. Do they constantly jockey for the position of who gets the room with the half bath? You betcha. Do they want to move into another home? Apparently not. When the subject was broached recently, they voted unanimously to stay right here where we are, “in our house.” My preteen sums it up by making clear her desire, “I want my own room. But I don’t want to move.” In other words, you all do what you want, just give me my space.
But at the end of the day, it's really only about 300 square feet of space that matters. It's then that we are all smooshed together in the den, watching Cosby reruns, playing the Wii, reading stories, giving hugs and good night kisses.
So if I really get a hankering to move, I’m going to have to go with Little Miss Five-Year-Old to help that happen. She knows how to get things moving. After 26 hours of labor, she finally decided it was time to move—and there she was, finding her space.
She’s the one who started this whole space issue in the first place.

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