Monday, January 23, 2012

Lessons from a Tiny Farmhouse

I just wrote the date at the top of a check and I realized it has been over a month since our move. I paused to think about all the luxuries I’ve been enjoying for the past few weeks – things like my basement, garage, dishwasher, linen closet, and pantry. I thought about how great it’s been to have plenty of storage space, room to exercise, and a guest bedroom for friends and family to visit. Then I thought about all the time I spent in our old house wondering if I would ever have those things and complaining about all the little inconveniences. Now, as I sit here in our new house, I look back and wonder how many moments were wasted on worry and how many memories didn’t get cherished because I was too busy longing for something better.

I recently returned to our old house to clean for the new renters to move in. Although our possessions are gone, each room still holds signs of our presence. There are marks on the bathroom wall from Matt knocking down the towel bar after almost every shower. There’s a faded silhouette from the wall art that hung above Reese’s crib: “Angels danced the day you were born.” And on the closet door in our old bedroom is one tiny handprint that I never could bring myself to wipe away.

As I cleaned each room, I thought about all the things we will never do in that house again. Some of the memories are ones I always knew I would cherish, like the nights we fell asleep together on the couch, the mornings when Matt’s parents came over for coffee, and the day we brought our new baby home from the hospital. Then there are the memories that seemed like such an inconvenience at the time; memories I never stopped to cherish but now wish I had. Like the times we raced down to Matt’s parents’ house in the pouring rain to wait out a tornado warning; or the times when we would both get up in the middle of the night to search the kitchen for a noisy cricket; or all the times we played “Scissors, Paper, Rock” to see who would be hand-washing the dishes that day. At the time, I never thought I would someday stand in that kitchen and cry because there were no more dishes to wash or crickets to smash.

It’s so easy to assume that we won’t miss something until the moment we realize that it’s in the past forever. Now I miss fogging crickets and scrubbing pots just as much as I miss rocking Reese in middle of the night, or her tiny fetal limbs jabbing my ribs. I miss those things as much as I might someday miss the long drive to town or the wood floors that seem to need sweeping every five minutes; or the way I’ll miss Reese’s constant dependency the day she no longer needs me to dress her, feed her, and change her.

As I get settled in this next phase of my life, I hope I always remember to hold the aggravating moments just as dear as the joyous moments. I hope for a renewed ability to find humor in the wake of frustration. I hope to spend less time worrying about my new inconveniences like the half-hour drive to town and my sudden inability to keep my home spotless, and I hope to spend more time enjoying the many blessings our new house provides. And most of all, I hope I stop in the midst of those aggravated sighs, frustrated eye rolls, and irritated scowls, and listen to the voice in my head that says, “Someday you will miss this.” That way, when someday comes, I won't stand in my empty kitchen and cry because I missed out on some of it. Instead I'll stand there and smile knowing that I fully lived all off it.

Here's to new beginnings. Happy 2012!

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