Saturday, January 2, 2010

When four feels like a small number (Babble)

As of this afternoon the house is down to just me and my three children again.  It’s very quiet, and surprisingly spacious.

I was sad to see my parents, brothers, sister-in-law and niece go today, but I think it’s good we’re getting back to our regular lives.  I envy other families where everyone lives close enough to one another that they can visit for an afternoon or a meal and then go back to the comfort of their own homes.  When a large group comes to visit us, they don’t get a real sense of what our lives look like.  I take off work, the kids stay up late, my shop becomes a necessary extension of the kitchen, futons and air mattresses dominate the family room…. 

I have some relatives who have never seen my house without the extra leaf in the dining table, or know how the furniture is arranged in the living room without a Christmas tree in it.  It would be lovely to have family over without having to transform the house, but it’s okay.  Next year we get to see what happens in the new house and that will be interesting.  (I thought about that every time I had trouble squeezing past someone at the dining room table at least a dozen times a day.)

Right before everyone arrived and I tried to get the house presentable, I started feeling a little silly for wanting to move.  Then all the people arrived and I realized, no, this is crazy, we need more room, and I wished I didn’t have to wait one more month until the closing.  Now that they’re gone again the house feels huge and I’m back to wondering a bit why I couldn’t make do with what I have. 

I’m still looking forward to the move, but I have trouble letting things go.  Once the house is truly ours I know I will be very happy about it.  My neighbors were kind enough to let my relatives take a tour while they were here, and all of them came back so excited for us.  My sister-in-law in particular was wondering why we would want to move since she’s always liked the house we have, but when she saw first hand what a wonderful step up the new house will be she was just thrilled and wished we could start walking furniture over that night.  Still, it was sad knowing this was the last big family event in this house that has served us so well for a decade.  (I’m sure I won’t miss it while I’m loading the dishwasher across the street and putting things in roomy closets, but I have such a sentimental streak.)

My kids are really tired and I feel like I haven’t seen them in a long time.  The girls have been playing with their cousin non-stop for a week.  They shared a room, got up early to giggle and make thumping noises, and went to bed after ten every night.  There was sledding in the dark, charades on New Year’s Eve, fun with play dough, and lots of games that for some reason required they dump out most of the toys and spread blankets on the floor. 

Aden cried after we took her cousin to the airport, but she’s starting to adjust to the quieter house.  Mona is often the most adaptable of all my kids, and she’s fine.  She loves having people here (and never did figure out which twin was Uncle Arno and which was Uncle Barrett) but she is content with our regular life, too.  Mona came back from a birthday party to a house empty of extended family and promptly put on a kangaroo costume.  In other words, Mona seems just like Mona.

But I don’t know what to make of Quinn right now.  He’s been exceptionally clingy and a little sick, but I think the biggest problem is that there have been too many things to adjust to lately.  Daddy was here for Thanksgiving, then daddy was gone again, then there were all the birthday parties and daddy came back and we rearranged things and daddy left again and the house filled up with relatives and what was left of our routine went out the window….  No wonder the little guy’s confused. 

Tomorrow there is nothing on the agenda but a trip to the grocery store, so I’m hoping once we’ve restocked his yogurt supply and he doesn’t have to wade through a sea of grown-up legs to find me in our own house, he’ll start to smile more.  He’s been in what we call ‘Contrary Quinn’ mode for awhile.  No matter what you say to him, you’re wrong, and the answer to everything is ‘no.’  I’m sitting on the floor next to him while I type because he supposedly wants help with his puzzle of Africa.  He neither needs nor wants my help putting together Africa.  I’m just supposed to be next to him.  Easy enough, so long as I can have a book or a laptop with me while I pretend not to notice as he puts Botswana in place.

Right after I post this we will head off to brush teeth in a bathroom that is down to just four toothbrushes.  We will walk through rooms where no one is camped out on the floor, and will pick up where we left off reading the first Harry Potter book back when there were bedtimes.

Ian recently arrived safely in Kuwait.  I’m sure in another couple of weeks four will seem like a noisy number again, but right now it feels sadly and strangely small indeed.

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