This was the crux of it: The smaller home offered us opportunity. We could not afford anything larger if I wanted to stay home with the children. We made a decision and walked away from opportunities of more space, more time to be alone, more space for more stuff. In exchange we received more time together. I remind myself to gently rise each morning as I wake, not by the bold alarm, but instead by the tender sound of my child’s feet plopping to the floor from his bunk bed on his way to our one bathroom.
I remember hearing the comments after we announced our second full-term pregnancy. “So are y’all moving to a bigger place?” Who knew that was the new intrusive, assuming question for young families everywhere these days. For us it seemed to replace (or come in addition to) the old “So when are you having more kids?” When we said no, some offered almost a consolation, that this was a good “starter” home.
That we wanted to stay put seemed shocking, almost offensive, to some once we had baby number three, living in a moderate but smaller apartment of just over a thousand square feet (we’re now in 1,250 feet of space with a small yard). We enjoyed it, with the amenities of a playground literally around the corner and a pool 30 seconds of a walk away (but safely confined). I enjoyed the meandering stroll to get the mail just two minutes of shuffle with little ones on their scooters.
Sure, space is a luxury, but I enjoy hearing the kiddos play in the room down the hall. Our dining room/toy area is chaotic but full of arts and laughs and kid arguments and games. The living room is just right there too, and our children are learning to be near even when they didn’t want to be together. More important I am learning to be near others even when I want to be alone. I think the yearning to be alone is deeply human, especially to us touched-out mamas—and it is important— but it is also a Western illusion of glory. Sometimes it seems our solution to everything is to give each other space rather than learn to live with each other. I’m learning glory and joy comes when I’m closer to others, though challenging at times.
Crosby Stills Nash & Young sing of the very, very, very fine house with a cozy room; Doug Stone says love grows best in little houses with fewer walls to separate; Miranda Lambert recalls the little back bedroom in the house that built her. I could go on and on…and on if you include the idea of small towns so especially prevalent in country and folk music.
I appreciate the size constraint as more of an opportunity to evaluate what we really need and want in our home—to live intentionally— rather than just making more space for more things in a larger home. Surely there are small homes not filled with joy and larger homes that offer contentment too. But the truth of it all is that love does not store itself by the square foot. It’s like those amazing shrink bags that hold 100 times more than you think, like Santa’s bag with its sparkling edges and endless bounty. A very, very, very fine home indeed.
Lynette is a mom of three children from one year to age five. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.