It’s been a rough few months. Our entire family took turns suffering from everything from the stomach flu to pneumonia, I went through a miscarriage and bad reaction to anesthesia, and we moved from my in-laws’ house (where we lived for 8 months.) in the middle of it all. Oh, and did I mention that my husband is in ministry? . . . And given that this all was happening right before Easter, his schedule was pretty crazy.
So this move — though it occurred at a difficult time — was a move forward. If you’re wondering how this relates to RP, I’ll give you a little of the back-story on why we chose to move.
We spent the past 6 years living in Plainfield, a suburb of Chicago with very little public transportation or places within walking distance. We had originally moved there to live close to the school where I taught, but after I began staying home with Offspring A in 2007, it really didn’t make sense to live “in the boonies” (as my extended family always called it!).
Obviously, 2007 was not the best time to sell a house, and some advised us to stay put and thought we were crazy for losing so much money on it after purchasing at the height of the market in 2005. As every good financial advisor, and even our realtor, told us, “if you don’t absolutely have to move right now — don’t.” And yes, it did end up being a huge sacrifice. But some things in life are just worth the sacrifice (why else would people ever have kids?). It took several hundred showings, price drops and late-night conversations before we finally reached our last resort, a short sale.
For us, we had several sacrifice-worthy reasons for moving (my husband did an incredible job blogging about these in his post, “Reset”). Our reasons ranged from simplifying to re-prioritizing how we spend our time. But the major reason we made the decision to move was to live within a walkable location. Given that I can’t drive, this seems like a no-brainer, right? Well not exactly. We really loved our home and neighborhood — from the nearby forest preserve and park to the in-ground pool, huge yard, finished basement, log-cabin addition w/ stone fireplace, and 2 gazebos, it was pretty much an ideal place to raise our kids. And though I’m making it out to sound like a mansion, it was a modest-sized 3-bedroom place that seemed to fit our four-person family very well. Yet once the kids and I were at home, we were stuck there all day. Besides walks to the park and having people over, we really couldn’t interact with the outside world like I longed to.
Our house finally closed in October 2011 after several grueling years of showings, failed contracts, and endless costly maintenance and repairs. Prior to closing, we moved in with my husband’s parents in order to get back on our feet and recover from the large hit we took on our house.
And here we finally are — spring 2012 — in our new, adorable rental home with a walkscore of 92 (see www.walkscore.com if you’re curious about your home’s walk score)! Besides quadrupling our walkscore, a few things have changed. Our square-footage is now half of what it was. Instead of a 2-car garage, we have a tiny storage shed. Instead of an in-ground pool, we have an old, dilapidated barn that is off-limits to children. Instead of 2 gazebos, we have a screened-in porch with peeling paint (working on that!). We traded our 3-bdrm newish home for one built in 1913 with 2 bedrooms and a little office with no vents. Though the house has its quirks, it has beautiful restored woodwork, a ton of character, feels warm and cozy, and is literally across the street from my daughter’s school. It truly is perfect for us, and it feels great to finally be living within our means and to have so much less stuff.
It’s as if there is room in our lives to breathe again.
These newfound errands — trips to the store, the bank, the park district office — are not mere things to mark off my “to do” list; they are privileges. And they have made me think about other privileges I have as a mom that I often take for granted living in the first world. How many times have I complained about having to think of and prepare meals for my family? Yet this is a privilege. I am blessed to have food available to make. I get to decide what food to prepare. How many people in the world even have that choice? Washing machine? Privilege. Toilet to scrub? Privilege. Dishes to put away? Privilege.
And as soon as I begin seeing them as chores and annoyances and anything but that which they are — privileges, the joy is taken away, and the people I am serving — whether my children or spouse or friends, are robbed of the gifts I am privileged to offer. No one wants to be served by a grumbling giver.
Our pastor went on to point out that change of perception ultimately equals a change of reality. And for me, my reality has shifted.
I am aware that I may one day begin taking the ability to run these errands for granted — that I may not always smile while my toddler is screaming down the aisle at Walgreens.
But in these weeks — these first trips to the store and outings to the library, I want to feel all these privileges, and to enjoy them. And I know I can’t make my friends and family feel privileged for errands they do every day. But I do hope that even if this post crosses their minds while doing even one seemingly mundane task, their perception will shift slightly. And maybe they’ll pause. And feel privileged too.