Goodbye House

Goodbye House. Goodbye gleaming hardwood floors. Goodbye white picket fence. Goodbye master bath larger than Little House’s kitchen. Goodbye picket-fenced emerald-velvet grassed yard. Goodbye high ceilings and sunroom Goodbye curving staircase and food-storage room. Goodbye landscape lights and four bathrooms. Goodbye french doors and central air. Goodbye double-hung windows and arched doorways. Goodbye deeply shaded backyard with climbing trees and quail and foxes and deer. Goodbye cul-de-sac where kids could play safely and boys learned to ride their bikes. Goodbye front porch with Adirondack chairs and a birdfeeder. Goodbye deep soaking tub and the kids’ own bathroom. Goodbye dreams and future I planned. Goodbye “we” and goodbye “us”.

And Hello wide-open future and all that it may contain…

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Another Day in Paradise

My friend Leslie was my rock today. She’s been here all week, and today when I got to the boxes that made me cry, she gently steered me from the room, and when I returned from running carpool, she was completely done with that room, wrapped, boxed, taped and labeled. It was a quiet act of love, and I am so grateful.

Carol brought me and the kids dinner, paper plates, plastic forks and disposable cups of Jello for Bean. That was after she had been packing my kitchen all day, and started on my food storage.

Emily brought special boxes and bubble wrap and spent the entire afternoon carefully wrapping up my wedding china (the only thing left if the kitchen) so that someday my daughter (or sons) can have a lovely serving for 10 of Lenox Federal Platinum.

Mo packed up my linens and modeled Beanie’s Snuggie on Twitter. She also got to see the Little House for the first time, and helped me get my Craigslist kitchen table in the front door. The new paint is very nice and fresh.

Ginette came and took Beanie and Abby to play at her house while I took Jeffrey to a Cub Scout meeting where he received his first merit badge and then the whole troop headed downtown for outside night ice-skating. For the first time in probably 10 years I strapped on some skates and took a few spins around the rink with my oldest boy. By the time we left, he had made it all the way around the rink without falling- it took all night, but he did it.

Marianne is taking my kids on Saturday to play at her place on the mountain, while the grown-ups get down to brass tacks and move the house. They will be happy and well loved while I, standing on the shoulders of giants, make a new home for them.

Half a dozen families have signed up to have us over for dinner from now until next Tuesday.

How does one ever, ever repay this kind of love? How does one say thank you in any meaningful way? The only way to even begin, is to make this a part of who I am, to knit it into the fabric of my soul , and  be ready to lift others as I have been lifted.

Moving Right Along

Well, thanks to a ton of helping hands that have shown up each day to help, my house is almost completely packed. Tomorrow four more ladies will be here, and the few things left should be easily dispatched. I’ve got boxes up to my ears everywhere I turn, and I haven’t a clue where anything is, but I don’t care. I’m so grateful for the help. I cannot fathom doing all this alone. What a godsend those helping hands are…

There was a painting party at Little House tonight, and my RS Pres called me and specifically told me I was NOT invited and to just let other people do this for me. So now the whole house has new paint. Again with the amazing.

Packing Packing Packing

Hmmph. I was never going to leave this house. This was It. I was going to watch my kids leave for college, missions and marriage from here. This isn’t another post with me bemoaning dismay at losing my house. That’s done, water under the bridge. This is about me kicking myself for thinking I was done moving and getting rid of all my boxes and packing stuff. For thinking, since I was never moving again, I didn’t need to keep my food storage in cannery boxes, because they looks so much neater and prettier lined up on the shelves. Man, in the almost three years since buying this house, I have accumulated a LOT of crap!

This morning, five different women from my ward showed up and opened up a can of Jinkme-Foo on my living room and kitchen. It’s entirely packed. In less than two hours. LESS than TWO hours. I KNOW! Even my fancy china and knick-knacks from my grandma. Tomorrow and the next day there are more ladies lined up, and the kids’ rooms will be done in nothing flat. We just ran out of boxes, or I have no doubt that today’s crew would have done that too.

There is a crew of people painting my Little House today, and tonight the YM are taking care of the yard. Tomorrow the cleaners come in, and Thursday the carpets are being done. Mormons rock.

Now I’m off to visit-teach. Because I need to serve, too.

Moving, Part II

Packing my home feels like undressing the dead. Taking the pictures off the walls and clearing the mantle, disrobing my home and making her a blank canvas again upswells all the sediment from the bottom of the well. All the hopes and joy that I felt while unpacking, while setting up my beautiful home, now rise on the gentle swirl of sorrow in the tide. It’s not cruel or malicious. It just is, and seems almost gently mindful of my sorrow as it swells up and breaks the surface of the water, to float away in the cool winter sunlight. My tears dry into tight trails on my cheeks, and time rolls on.

Thoughts on Moving

We are moving. Now the task lies before me to pack up this home, this house of dreams where I planned to spend the rest of my life, and sort, divide, donate and sell.  We are moving from a neighborhood with three car garages, landscape lighting, and security systems to a small rental in an older neighborhood. I am going from gleaming hardwood floors, French toille wallpaper and curving staircases to linoleum, outside parking and one bathroom. And I am choosing to do it.

I am choosing to take my kids and myself out of a situation that is beyond my control. I am choosing to wrench the bull by his horns and wrestle that sucker to the floor. Because of choices my ex-husband made, I cannot keep my home house. The struggle of coming to terms with that has been a bed of hard, sharp rocks. But ultimately, it is simply the truth. A single mom supporting three children by herself cannot take on the kind of debt a house like that brings. It must be sold.

The hard part is the dissolution of the dreams. The hopes and plans of a future that seemed so secure, so idyllic, so perfect, so much a fulfillment of everything I wanted- all that is gone. I miss the man I married. I miss my best friend. I miss him with a gasping chasm of perfect pain where my heart was- but he is gone, and I cannot bring him back. So like the house, I have to step back and distill the truth- the truth of the house is that I cannot keep it. The truth of my marriage is that I cannot fix it. Hiding from those truths would only hurt me more.

I took the kids to see what I am calling our “new small house”, and they were okay with it. They don’t notice things like linoleum floors and think sharing a bathroom will just make Saturday chores go faster. Cleaning four bathroom does take some time, and who needs two walk-in master closets anyway? Gleaming hardwood floors are hard to keep clean, and my Dyson needed some carpet. My cheeks sting, and I feel ashamed of my pride, and ashamed that I am not more grateful for the “new small house”.

My emotions are always close to the surface. More so now. I met with my attorney this week, and it’s like ripping open a sutured wound when the severing you have come to terms with intellectually is all laid out before you on paper. I thought I was ready. But the actuality of it- of seeing your life, your heart, your best friend, your children, your home- laid bare into legal terms on stark white paper… nothing can prepare you for it. I cried all day.

The futures I had imagined are gone. I need to grieve, and experience that loss, lest it raise it’s head in some unhealthy way later. So I’m letting myself cry. I’m allowing the waves of sadness to wash over me, and I’m hoping as they do, the salty brine of the sea will help heal the cracks in my spirit. It stings now, but maybe it’s all part of doing what’s good for me. I have faith the healing will come, and I have faith that the void and vacuum of my heart will gradually fill up with new good things.

My pride has taken a hit. But maybe that’s a good thing. I keep telling my kids that it doesn’t matter where we live, it’s our family that matters. I told them a house is like clothes- it may change but the family on the inside is what matters. A house is just a house.  Back in October, before I told the blog what was happening, I wrote the following:

No matter how much you love your home and think it’s where your heart is, it’s not. Your home is an empty shell, a vacant lot, without those you love lighting it’s walls. The old adage got it wrong.

Your home is in your heart- not the other way around.

Much like Alice, I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it. This time, I’m taking it to heart.

Painting by the exceptional Kathleen Lolley.

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I’m so tired of things being so hard for so long. I am so tired of my own voice. I am so tired of trying to keep my chin up. I am so tired of hurting. I am so tired of saying no to the kids. I am so tired of being alone all the time. I am so tired of being sad. I am so tired of smiling when I want to cry. I am so tired of wanting to cry. I am so tired of uncertainty everywhere I turn. I am so tired of freefall. I am so tired of feeling lost. I am so tired of trying to find the silver lining. I am so tired of struggle. I am so tired of being a raw nerve ending. I am so tired of people not knowing what to say to me. I am so tired of not being just a regular person anymore. I am so tired of floundering. I am so tired being strong. I am so DAMN tired of being strong.

Ambivilent Scouting

Despite the shiny-faced utopian vision of Norman Rockwell (of whom I am a fan) I am finding myself not a fan of Scouting. Jeffrey just started this year, and while in theory I can see the benefits, in practice, I’m finding it lacking.

Pin-pointing exactly what bothers me- and articulating it- is proving evasive, which makes this more of a rant than a legitimate criticism. If my son were not actually at Scouts right now, I might even be able to refer to the handbook.

The whole thing just sits a little… askew. So many of the tasks the kids are supposed to do to earn their marks involve the parents actually doing the work- or at the very least, pushing and prodding their kids along. It seems about the status of achievement- achievement that is actually about the parents’ work and status. How many pinewood derby cars have you seen that were actually made by a kid? And the poor kid whose parents actually allowed him at the helm for design and production? Watch him get smashed at the races and tell me what lesson he’s learned.

I don’t know how long our scouting foray will last- Jeffrey hasn’t earned one badge yet- but I know if I have to be the motivator, it’s not going to be long.

I guess that’s all.

Discovering the Brilliance of Waterson

The other day, I was cleaning out the garage, and I found a box of old books. It was full of old The Far Side anthologies and several compilation books of Calvin and Hobbes. Jeffrey was all over them, but quickly shelved The Far Side in favor of his new heroes, Calvin and Hobbes. I think the science nerdery of TFS mostly went over his head, but the antics of the small boy and his tiger were right up his alley. He’s been devouring them. And frankly, I had forgotten the sheer brilliance of the dialogue, expressions and pure imagination of Bill Waterson’s creative genius.

After about three days solid of reading, Jeffrey came bounding excitedly into my room holding the book, and exclaimed “MOM! Hobbes is a STUFFED TIGER! Did you know that!? That’s hilarious! It’s all Calvin’s IMAGINATION!!” Seeing him figure this out on his own was a singular delight in my mothering this week. Since then, he’s been voraciously reading them, even sneaking a flashlight into bed for some covert under-the-covers reading.

Tonight I found a note, written in red crayon, warning the zombie snowmen to “Stay Away, Suckers!” I guffawed, and let him tape the sign to the wall over his bed, ignoring the fact that only last week, ‘sucker’ was a naughty word. Some things are bigger than my arbitrary rules. Love of a boy’s imagination is one of them…