Less is More

About a year ago, almost to the day, I posted a post called “Old Beginnings” about how our family was moving back into the old family house I grew up in, living with my mom, helping her out as she helped us out – trying to keep the old place and raise our kids there.
Well, a year later, we discovered it hasn’t been what we hoped it would be. We always knew we’d take it a year at a time, and, after a year, we realized we couldn’t stay.
It’s hard to let go of, though. It’s painful for our family. As I mentioned in the previous post, I was looking forward to raising my kids in a beautiful neighborhood, beautiful home, that was at the same time a place of comfort and security to me. It’s the family home, and us moving out means it has to get sold. But to afford it, I had to work a ton, and, even while I did, I realized I had overshot. I couldn’t afford it, at least for the next few years, without someone else in the household taking a job as well. The mortgage just wasn’t low enough. Besides that, while my mother and wife are both wonderful women, some women, however wonderful, just shouldn’t live together under the same roof.
What that all means is we are moving from a four-bedroom Victorian home in probably the best neighborhood in the bay area to a two-bedroom apartment in not-the-nicest area of Redwood City. Parking is pretty horrendous, and, four days in, Jack has already managed to get smacked by a swing at the local park.
So why am I happy about this move? I mean, I am. I am really happy. It’s almost a strange thing to admit to people, though. I’m almost embarrassed to feel joyful over this move. It’s not that things are going to be easier. They won’t be. I mean, we’ll be able to finally, wonder of wonders, save money this year. But my mom helped us out a lot with the kids. She is an absolute saint. She loves our kids and watched them whenever we needed her to – which was a lot. It was almost obscene how much we relied on her. Due to medical issues, my wife needs to get a full night’s sleep every single night, which meant that when any kid woke up in the night or was sick, it was on me or mom to watch them and then get to work the next morning. And the flu season hit us HARD this year. Not that my wife has it any easier. You try watching two mischievous toddlers along with a 7 month old and see how you feel at the end of the day. But with mom gone, we are on our own.
And however tired I already am from it, I have this new feeling inside me that I haven’t felt since we moved in with her: pride. Maybe it’s foolish, but while I hate missing sleep, I love knowing that my family is being taken care of because of *me.*It’s on my shoulders, and I like the responsibility. I feel like I’m doing what God made me to do. I’m not outsourcing my job.
I felt this especially recently when our children got baptized. It’s the first sacrament they have ever experienced, and in it, they are “marked as Christ’s own.” They become children of God – part of the spiritual family. A settled sense fell over me as I meditated on what it all meant – this is my calling in life, what gives my life meaning: to bring my children to God. They’re spiritual lives – the only lives that matter – are in my hands.
A two-bedroom apartment is small, of course – especially for a five-person family. But sometimes a house can be so big you can hide in it. I can’t run from my children’s screaming any more or just put them in front of a tv when I’m tired or retreat. They are always there! And for this introvert, how exhausting! But the upside is that, again, wonder of wonders, I’m getting to really know my children. I’m learning how to live life with them constantly a part of it. It’s not like I wasn’t there before, but having them so close, so near all the time, is a difficult but important change. Even if I wanted to ignore them (which, believe me, quite often I do) I can’t. And that’s a good thing.
Last night, we sat outside on our tiny balcony in the cool of the typical summer evening. The trees over head were swaying with the wind, and we had finished up our pasta – eaten outside, because we don’t want to ruin our carpets just yet. Mexican music was blaring below us as a couple young men shared beers and talked about something I couldn’t decipher. Normally, the bass is turned up way too loud, and Mexican singers always sound out of tune to me – probably because they are. And that was the case this evening. But Izzy was swaying and bobbing his two-year old shoulders to the beat and I began to realize, in spite of that, I kind of like this music. I kind of like this balcony. I kind of like this evening. I kind of like these children. I kind of like this life.

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