Just the other night, I turned the corner into my driveway and it stirred a memory that took me back to those first few years of being married with very small children. It had become a sort of ritual for me, a harried mother who would use the guise of taking the garbage to the bottom of my driveway as a “mommy’s time out”, once the children were tucked into their beds. My neighbors probably scratched their heads as I stood there for several minutes stretching, taking deep breaths of the night air and gazing at the stars. Every young mother can relate to this need to reconnect, if only for a moment, with the person who you once thought yourself to be, still are, but have almost forgotten.
Quite often a remarkable thing would happen as I made my way back up the driveway. I would look at my house all aglow with night lights and sleeping children and I would think to myself……Who lives there? Am I actually a real grown up now? And how on Earth did I land myself in this responsible and conventional life after swearing it wouldn’t be so. Only a few moments later, I would collect stacking blocks off the floor, fold laundry and focus on the tasks at hand, these thoughts/questions receding into the background.
I have made my fair share of moves in my life. Early in my adult life I had wistfully thought how nice it would be to have that constant home to return to. But I don’t think I’d trade that now for the adventures and the lessons about learning to adapt, making friends, coming to understand cultural differences and remaking myself.
Some darn hard work, but mostly incredible good fortune has allowed my family to live in a lovely and comfortable home for the past ten years. It has served us well….close to work, wonderful schools and in a beautiful, safe, sophisticated and resourced community. In my mind I could justify the scope of my home with my kids living there and their friends always around. It has been a meeting place for both of our extended families (because we could house everyone), many guests and we have consciously used it to host friends, neighbors and other community gatherings. Yes, this house contains cherished memories from an important era in my family’s life but it is only one piece of our family history as my older children have lived in four other homes before this one and I in 12 homes or apartments before this.
Recently, as I walk past empty rooms (or even wander about in one of my absent children’s bedrooms), I visit a time when the house was full of chaos and noise. Sometimes I startle myself asking similar questions to the ones I asked of myself in the dark of those nights long ago. Who is this person I’ve become?
Certainly, I envision a place for my children that reminds them of their happy childhoods where they feel welcomed, cherished and loved. I want this to extend to my larger family, hopefully grandchildren and friends. But I also yearn to shed myself of that persona who had to dedicate so much time and energy to the maintenance ( for me, pretty darn unfulfilling) of a home which now feels somewhat wasteful. I wonder to myself if it is selfish to occupy the unused space….when I could focus on other ventures, including sharing resources and helping others.
So my spring plans include some renovations that I have been assured will help us in the resale of our home. And my summer promises college kids returning, a line-up of family and friends visiting, graduation and confirmation parties, the hosting a bridal shower among other things. I plan to read this blog for inspiration and I plan to remind myself to step back one summer night, take time to walk up my driveway, and ponder “should I stay or should I go?” Will you join me in this discussion and possibly change my mind?