“I grew up in a pretty house/And I had space to run …”
— Taylor Swift
We are buried in boxes. There are also bags, pillows (bed and throw both), and various items stacked precariously in our foyer. Hand-me-down and thrifted furniture has been added to the mix. Clothing ranging from athletic attire to classic coats and pencil skirts are draped over the piles. The entire effect is very “upscale rummage sale.”
In some ways, this pile is not much different than the pile of baby items that came into the house over two decades ago. I remember staring in awe at the mountain of pack n’ plays, highchairs, cradles, clothes and more. How could such teeny tiny humans need so much stuff?
A tiny human who completed our family first came into this house on April 26, 1999. That was the day we brought her home from the hospital. She was three days old. Her daddy found a baby bunny and placed it gently on her tiny lap.
Her brother, 22 months old, ran in circles blowing bubbles and demanding to “swing!” We paid attention to him so he wouldn’t be too jealous of the new baby. She snoozed, content in her little “baby bucket” on the grass. She already sensed, somehow, that she was the queen of this domain.
She has always been very attached to a sense of place and tradition. At four years old she was in the backseat of our car when I idly mentioned the idea of moving. I didn’t really mean it, but I learned then never to joke about such things.
This cheerful sprite hugged her stuffed animal close and said, with a firmness beyond her age, “I will miss you.”
The message was clear. We could do what we wanted but our girl intended to remain firmly planted at home.
That should come as no surprise. She comes from a long line of people who settle into a house — no, a “home” — for at least six or seven decades. I mean, 20 years in our house still feels somewhat “new” to us sometimes.
While very much in love with our home, she doesn’t necessarily favor one room over the other. She is the only member of our family to have called each of the five bedrooms in the house “hers” at one point or another. BoyWonder likes to point out that for a slim person she has somehow always expanded to fill the space.
Now, she will be filling space somewhere else. She is slated to graduate college in May. I don’t know how this is possible. She’s four, isn’t she? She has been accepted to multiple law schools (shameless mama brag). It is not a surprise, however, that not one of them is located in our rural Appalachian township.
We have shopped, and shopped, and shopped some more. She’s our girl, so thrifty as they come. No spoiled princess diva ways for her. She is proud to be putting a million dollar spin on her first place using hand me downs and second-hand goods.
Her daddy built her an honest to goodness spray paint booth in the barn, because of course he did. She has been turning things that shocked me in their appalling “70s-ness” into drool-worthy pieces that I covet. As the piles grow, I can only focus on one milestone at a time. Today it’s bags, boxes and a rattan chair that will need reupholstered. We will do that together, I hope.
There are moments that it seems patently unfair that we help create these amazing humans — and then we don’t get to keep them home with us to enjoy. But then again, would we want to? When I feel myself sliding towards maudlin nostalgia, I remember that healthy birds fly. It has never been our life goal to have our children live with us forever. The trope of the adult that lives in the parent’s basement, or in our case, attic – is not one we want to live out in real life.
When she was very small (to me), I wrote, “she is four years and 364 days old, and she is spinning away from me like a leaf on the breeze.” She is now much older than that, and I realize she is not so much spinning “away” as she is taking us with her.
When she was very young, I once told her of the famous quote that says “to have a child is to forever know what it is to have your heart walking around outside your body.”
She looked up at me, with a gap-toothed smile, and said, “I am your heart on an adventure!”
That you are, Doodle. That you are.
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