Saturday, November 13, 2010

Only Two of Us Pay Rent

Over the summer we moved into a house that could probably fit inside the borders of a postage stamp. Two adults, two young children, and three cats. We left a house with three bedrooms and an enormous playroom for a tiny two-bedroom house. Why would we do such a thing? Because the old house was evil and this one is not. We rented the old house (unseen) when we first moved here from Canada and it was dirty, falling apart, and in a neighborhood with the personality of moldy cardboard. It was surrounded by highways, making it impossible to walk anywhere at all. Dirty and isolated? What a dream home for a family with an eight-month-old baby!

I'm sharing these details of evil house in order to give you some idea that when I complain about the tiny dimensions of our current house, I do so with a big smile on my face. We rent this little place from the university and it is well maintained. It also has a wonderful backyard and is minutes to campus and the ever-important library and coffee shops. We can walk down the road for ice cream, the paper, or just to walk. I love it. A lot.

That being said, we struggle with the space. When Matt and I first moved in together we lived in a one-room attic apartment in Toronto. First it was just me and Matt, then Pomegranate joined us, followed shortly by Hille. It was a tight squeeze for sure, but there was still space on the floor between the furniture. Oh, how I miss that space between furniture! Because now every inch of that space is filled with children and their stuff. Books, blocks, works of art, dollies, monsters, tiny chairs, and stickers are everywhere. We tidy the house at least twice a day and then we blink and this happens:

At times it feels a little out of hand, and I can feel Matt's skin start to crawl. We both start brainstorming about how we can fix all this chaos, imagining wonderful storage solutions and innovative ways to somehow make the cats clean it all up, but I actually don't mind it. Don't get me wrong, I would love the opportunity to walk through the living room without stepping on Dora and I am very attached to the grown-up space of our bedroom (no Alyce, you can't play in there). But I love how the girls have changed the geography of our living space. If Alyce didn't have the freedom to play around the house, the world would be robbed of my favourite treats:

There was a time when you couldn't enter a room without finding at least one of Alyce's babies, usually freshly diapered. Sometimes I would pick a blanket off the floor only to find that yet another monster was fast asleep in a nap, again, usually freshly diapered. Then there is my second favourite: the fridge door chaos. There are usually so many papers, paintings, and letters on the fridge that opening the door inevitably leads to 65 percent of the paper falling on the ground. This is usually followed by quiet cursing and a desperate search for the magnet that rolled under the fridge. But it makes me smile in a way that I don't think a single, neatly presented drawing would do. I can't wait to frame and hang a few important pieces in our house over the years, but I hope the artwork tornado stays on the fridge for a little while longer.

How has your house changed for the better since having children?

I hope everyone is having a good weekend!

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