Putting Down Roots

moving in, or, little trucks and lots of pillows
February 4, 2012, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I am surrounded by pillows in my new bed, which in turn is surrounded by half-unpacked boxes (“box” here is used losely: there are, yes, a couple of old boxes in which my mom sent me cookies, some giant tupperwares, reusable shopping bags, non-reusable shopping bags, my hiking backpack, and one antique suitcase with the initials AAK embossed in gold on top). Lying on my floor is evidence of the bizarre mix of things that comprise my life right now: a tattered bread-baking cookbook, a bag full of last season’s leftover vegetable seeds, the chord sheets I’ll need for playing ukulele in the worship band tomorrow, and at least three small toy trucks.

The trucks aren’t mine: I just moved into the spare room in the house where I nanny. I would have moved in on Tuesday, but a family member was escaping a husband who had a pyschotic break, so until this morning the room was full of a mom, a 5-year-old who did ninja moves and rattled off facts about dinosaurs, and a baby who rarely cried but frequently laughed with a warbly little tremolo. And now, the room is filled with all of my stuff.

When I first started working here, I was hesitant about the idea of becoming a “live-in.” I didn’t know these people, and at the begining, I didn’t particularly connect with them. I was nervous about blurry lines between on-time and off-time. I wanted my own space, even if that meant biking a 10-mile roundtrip every day regardless of weather. Various things have changed, though, and here I am. And I’m thrilled.

For a long time, I’ve felt strongly that our culture’s expectation that childrearing is something that’s left to two biological parents is, frankly, ridiculous. Maybe it’s just that I was keenly aware of how tired my parents–who had, respectively, children who were 13 and 16 years older than me–were when I finally hit high school, but it just seems like raising a whole new human being is more work than two people can manage.

A few weeks ago, snacking in the kitchen with Karen, my boss, while the girls napped, we both admitted that we could never handle it if we had to watch the babies–who are charming, and hilarious, and mostly good–all day, every day. We would snap. Pretty quickly, probably.

I fully intend to have other people around when I’m raising my children. Maybe this means a friend who’s single living with me and my family, or maybe it means another family sharing our house. Maybe it means having neighbors with whom I’m intentionally close: we cook dinners together and tag-team childcare. Regardless, I want a village raising my future children.

And that means, of course, that I need to be part of the village that’s raising other people’s kids.

This past week, when Jane was staying at the house, I was thrilled to have another adult around, and cheerfully made sandwiches for Daisy or held Bradley when he was fussy. It struck me that this is what I’ve been thinking about all along: a situation of a whole bunch of people coming together to take care of kids who need more loving and patience and support than one person can provide.

It’s not exactly how I thought I’d get started on this path–I had envisioned moving in with a friend right before she gave birth, or as a couple intentionally settling down with another couple–but I love that my life right now is as part of a family, and that my work is centered fully on loving two very small human beings. I think I’m on the right track.


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