Grateful

I have discovered the secret to gratitude is to move into a 500 square foot apartment with no dishwasher, no washing machine and no parking.

First off, the good news is we now live in an old house that is officially lead-free. We can write “professionally lead abated” on our sales disclosure when we (maybe) sell the house someday. The kids shouldn’t be exposed to any more lead, we should be just one blood draw away from never having to do it again, and I am SO RELIEVED.

I learned a lot about myself and my attitudes while we were out of our house and living in the lead-safe apartment downtown last month. It was like a forced march into Marie Kondo’s brain, where I had the absolute minimum number of belongings and no secret shame storage closets. Everything in my purse, my under-sink cabinet, and my kids’ dressers was accounted for.

On the one hand, it was SO NICE to be done – completely done – with all my housework for once. After I swiffered and changed the litter box and picked up the toys I could sit on the couch and not have anything hanging over me. Even handwashing all the dishes (no dishwasher) and taking the laundry to the laundromat (no machine) was more of a novelty than an actual chore.

Of course, that was my life for three weeks, not forever. When your kids get the stomach flu at 2 am and you don’t have a washing machine, nothing is a novelty. Dragging every hamper you own full of puke-covered bedding (with the pukers in tow, because obviously they can’t go to school) into the laundromat and spending $25+ to get everything cleaned an sanitized is beyond stressful. I had to do that once (Well, once for Evan and once for Finnegan) knowing full well that in the near future I would be back in my house with the second-floor laundry and several sets of extra sheets. I knew all my stuff and my conveniences and shame closets were waiting for me. Yes, it’s a much bigger house to clean, but I felt very grateful I was going back to that mess.

Now that I’m back in the house, surrounded by things that spark joy (and even more things that do not), I am trying to hold on to the feelings of gratitude and lessons I learned.

  1. I do not need as much as I think I do. I need fewer clothes, fewer shoes, fewer kitchen gadgets, books, toys, pens, trinkets, makeup, everything than I currently have. I need to seriously consider any additional items I bring into the house. And I should take better care of the things I do have, because I am lucky to have them.
  2. I live a very easy, privileged life. It costs SO MUCH to use a laundromat. A couple of weeks worth of laundry for 6 people would pay for a serviceable washing machine. Of course, you need somewhere to put a washing machine, so if your apartment doesn’t have hookups you’re out of luck. If your laundry hookups are in the basement and you can’t do stairs, you’re out of luck. It also took me 3 hours to get our laundry done the first time. I don’t have a real job, so I have 3 hours to spend. But if you had a job, or two jobs, or three jobs it would be so exhausting. I could afford both the time and the money, which makes me a very lucky person.
  3. That being said, I can do hard things and survive them. Hard is an extremely relative term. My problems aren’t BIG problems but hard things are still hard. It can be hard to just get out of bed in the morning. It can be hard to make wise choices. It can be hard to pick up the phone even if the heat in your apartment stops working and it’s very very cold. Asking for help is hard. Raising kids is hard. LIFE IS HARD, even if your life isn’t extraordinarily hard. Right now my 2-year-old’s life is SUPER HARD because his brother got to the paper towels and cleaned up the puppy pee on the floor before he did.

I am always amazed at what humans can get used to quickly, especially young humans. My kids thought the whole apartment thing was an absolute adventure. Every time we drive past the apartment they say “HI OLD APARTMENT! Remember when we lived in that apartment? And we walked down to get pizza?!”

Add “resilient, flexible, fun children” to my list of things I am grateful for, which might be more important that any of the other stuff.

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One Response to “Grateful”

  1. Suzanne says:

    Oh I love this – what valuable lessons. And so nice that the adventure is now over.

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