Friday, January 31, 2014
When I was four years old I lived in this beautiful little town set in the hills of western New York. There must've been some kind of magic in this place because when I had children of my own, I could not wait to move back. I'm not sure what kind of memories inspired this thinking at the young age of four. Perhaps it was our neighbors. They were true hippies and I remember showing up at their front door and begging for hot oatmeal and fresh out of the oven rolls. Their table and benches were handmade. At one time, they lived in a cabin in the woods with a blanket for the front door and a rickety handmade bridge to the outhouse. They had rabbits in their kitchen. They had chickens everywhere. But that came after we left Alfred. I say Alfred, but we lived in the neighboring town- Almond.
Perhaps it was the memory of the carved bear that has always guarded the entrance to the Kanakadea Country Store. Maybe it was Peter, the bicycle man who was a friend of my Mothers or her interesting Potter friends who gave her her first (and she says last) "brownies". It's even possible that the night if the brownies itself left an indelible impression on me. We probably played. Sang. My mother may have danced with me on her toes or cooked us a plate of cookies.
But in all seriousness, this was the place that felt like home.
We left the Alfred area and we moved around the county quite a bit. We lived in the state of Maryland for a couple years. I went to about 10 different schools and so I did not have the ability to make lasting friendships as a child. And this was something that I promised would never happen to my own children. I know that there are many families that have to move around a lot, military families, nomads and those who move for jobs and because it's a hard economy. And often, they thrive. I have good memories of all of our homes, pretty much but even so, I wanted to give my children roots.
And I underestimated the strength of those bonds, the anchor that those roots gave them.
This week, we found out that we have 30 days to find a new place to live. We've been living in Alfred for about a decade and for about eight of those years we lived on the side of the hill a few miles from town. Two years ago, we moved closer to town and into a house that is known by everyone here as Briarcroft.
We have had a very happy teo years in this home but now it is time to move on. When I told my daughters that we were finding a new place to live- I called it upgrading- they burst into tears. I had no idea that they were this attached to the house that we live it. But after talking to them, I realized that it was not so much the house we live in (although they adore the house and love our neighbors) as the town we live it. Obviously, they all have friends and have been in the same school all their lives. This in itself is huge for them. They have friends and they have a church; our small town is almost like our family. My eldest daughter said that if we leave, Christmas will never be Christmas again. In her heart, it is not about the gifts or even the cookies and candy but it is about the way our town becomes a magical, wonderful fairytale place in the winter.
I was trying to look at the huge opportunity the universe could be presenting to us. The world is suddenly wide open and we have no choice but to go and explore. For all I know, we are being called West. Or South to a farm or co-op, perhaps a place I can learn Midwifery.
But then I go back to what has been bedrock of child raising for me. When the world is chaotic and difficult and when people come into our lives and hurt us- we create our own sanctuary. I have not had many babysitters and I have not gone out very much. I believe my home is our nest and I feel in my heart that I belong in the nest. With my children. If I have to live with a disability and wake up sick every morning, the blessing is that I am here. We have a routine every single day when they get off the bus. I am always there, every day that I can be there. It's not very often that I'm not opening the door for them.
But even though this is a nest that we are very attached to, it is not the nest itself that matters as much as those of us who built it. Together. We can build our nest in another tree and as long as we are together… It will be a beautiful tree. It will feel just as safe.
And so, right now I am trying to inspire the children and begin the process of helping them accept this new opportunity. I am determined to keep them here where they are happy. These routes that bind them- they are GOOD.
They will always have a love for their home town and the friends and families that as a village, helped raise them.
As hard as the work will be- and moving five children is hard, no matter what season you do it in- I want them to learn that nothing worth doing is ever easy.
I want them to learn that worry doesn't make the job go faster or easier. Worry does not change a thing- other than to make you more stressed and physically Ill. I believe in post traumatic growth. We choose it.
Our lives are in the care of a force more powerful than I. I believe in the process. I know with certainty that every little thing will be alright.
Nobody can MAKE me feel less strong and less powerful, less happy and no SITUATION can do that, either. Once you learn to be content with what you have, in whatever state you find yourself in and living in this most precious and momentous moment: you are always ok.
I am standing on the rock of All is Well. Always. All ways. And that is what I can teach my children.