We shifted. We allowed it to be a process. We took our time. rather, we are taking our time.
DW and i boxed up allourthings and hauled them down the stairs into our new spaces. The homies boxed and bagged up all theirs, and patiently waited for the chance to set them all up in the space that is now their very own.
First, we had to paint…and pick out paint colors. I made a meek attempt to persuade, but mostly stepped back and let them choose. Friendly Frog, Twisted Turquoise, and Pickled Beet. I misjudged, so Crit has polka dots on a wall instead of a second coat. she loves it. winning.
They took over the loft space initially. All their books, many of their shared toys, the castle, the Bar BandB, and the futon. All the Barbies and action figures seem to be staying out there, but the dolls and the stuffies have special places on the shelves of the new rooms.
Each room has a lofted twin bed. Notch has a twin mattress on the floor below, and Crit a queen (with a boxspring). She switches between the top bunk and the bottom, he stays put on the bottom. He refers to the top bunk as his “chill and relax” space. He meditates and belly-breathes up there. He has been into meditating lately. to watch him is to see why. it works for him. you can feel his energy change. HE can feel his energy change. it has been that way for him since he was two years old. when he has trouble winding down before bed, he comes out and asks for help. for specific help. “Mom, will you please get me set up for legs up the wall and belly breathing?” It is one of my parenting hell-yeah’s. He has the tools – and he uses them when he needs them. He has an anxious mind – a Lavin mind, and like most humans with swirling thoughts, it revs up at night.
Over the holidays, when they were still sharing a bedroom, he called me back in after i tucked him in. He said “come in and shut the door, i want to talk to you.” gulp, i thought. He then proceeded to tell me he is afraid of getting arrested and wanted to know all the things you could get arrested for, at age six. It did not take long for the dialogue to narrow down to:
“can you get arrested for robbering something?”
“what about if you robber it and then give it back, can you still get arrested?”
“what happens if you robber it, use it a little bit, and then put it back right where it was…or pretty close, i think, to where it was?”
i did not ask him that night what he robbered. i simply reminded him that honesty is a virtue, and it often feels super good to be virtuous…but it doesn’t always feel easy. i whispered, as i stroked the wee little bangs that he chopped off himself, the relationship between apology and forgiveness. we talked about how much better Crit felt after she sent the letter to Santa about Pinecone Toyboat (a whole nother story). i asked him if he felt this in any particular area of his body – ’cause my experience is that guilt weighs quite heavily on the heart and the chest.
It wasn’t until over a week later that he came clean. maybe. i can’t be sure, actually cause he’s a lotta Burnett too…he told me that he ‘thinks he might have once robbered Crit’s chapstick, and used it, and put it back somewhere near where she kept it…maybe.’
he’s growing up. he felt guilt and he processed it. or we are processing it. i’m on new turf. i have no schema for this really. around his age, once guilt began to weigh down the shoulders of my catholic shawl, we were introduced to confession and repentance. once per week, you were afforded the chance to lay it all out on the line, and accept the punches as they came. after several years, i learned the punches were the same, no matter the blows against virtue that i threw. Three Our Fathers, Three Hail Marys. every time. no matter the weight of the sin. no matter the circumstance. so, in the words i’ve learned from Crit “what matters?”. there had to be a better way.
it was not until my thirties that i became intimately familiar with meditation. i learned it through yoga. through connecting my breath with my movement. through noticing. through a desire to be keenly self aware. the more i practiced, the more the guilt and the self-limiting, self-defeating, self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors that i held dear to began to let go of their hold. i felt better after an hour of yoga than i did confessing to any faceless screen while clutching tightly to my catholic self-righteous indignation. in those early years of learning to meditate, i began to believe that i held as much divinity inside me as every other being blessed to grace the planet. the light in me honors the light in you. i knew before they were incubating in my uterus, that was what i wanted to share with my children. that we are all divine – and all the same – and all unique – all at the same time. so we contradict ourselves ? -yes!- we should. we are large and contain multitudes (W.Whitman). that we are flawed and that we are perfect. that our main mission is to love and be loved. the rest is superfluous.
Notch, for the first time, has complete ownership over his domain. i truly did not see the power in that for him – or where he would take it. His new bedroom is immaculate. there are no dirty clothes shoved in a corner or slot of any space. they are all in the hamper in the bathroom. there is nothing cluttering up the floor. everything has a place and everything is in that place. if i din’t see so much of myself inside him, it would be difficult to believe. he is wabi sabi and doing it his way, and i respect it, and value it, and honor it. he is proud, and i am thrilled.
Crit too. She has begun to fill her desk drawers and put her artwork on the wall. She has a little hoarder in her, so this move has been great practice in letting go of the things that no longer serve you – or ‘spark joy’ as the new japanese trend encourages.
I remember the first year that we moved out here and DW and i were chatting early one morning. he stated that we were living ‘as good as it gets’, and i knew it was not true. he defended his statement with “they love spending time with us, they wake up happy to see us, they hold our hands as we walk around, they do what we ask…” that was all true, but i never for an instant thought it would be as good as it gets. it just keeps getting better and better. they still wake up happy to sneak attack us and jump into a love lump. they are both still happy to hold our hands and snuggle many many minutes of each and every day. they look to us when they have big feelings to process and they bring joy and delight to all the moments. sure – i want to kick them in the face sometimes (just a term we throw around) and they want to kick me in the face sometimes, but we don’t do it. instead, we work through it. we take space if we need it. and WE TALK ABOUT IT. whatever it is – nothing is off-limits. i apologize when i lose my marbles or raise my voice. if we have something that is weighing down the chest and making it difficult to catch a full breath – then we discuss. without judgement. we just listen to the things that come up. we talk about what we wish we could do and we talk about the coolest and kindest way we could approach it.
I have zero desire to raise obedient children. those are not the humans that will spark the change in this world. obedience is nothing i’m after. i want to send my children sailing into the world knowing their infinite capacity to love and be loved.
Although they have only moved up a flight of stairs, i’m uncomfortable with parts of the transition. I don’t like our bedroom door closed. i like to have a listening ear available. we have been sharing the same 600 square feet of sleeping space since we met, a floor a-way is disconcerting.
I was worried for them both. i have pressed an ear to their bedroom door enough to know that they need and use each other to process the weird social parts of their days. and i’ve been proud of the advise and support they give each other. i am quite certain they have been able to hear the audible gulp in my throat from outside their door when i catch word of the sweet things they say to each other and the perfect antectdote they come up with to make each other feel better.
Each morning since the bedroom transition took place, we have a new delightful routine. Notch hears me grind my coffee beans. I can hear him pitter and patter his way down the stairs before he cheerfully greets me with a “good morning – can i help you make your coffee?”
I scoop him up, squeeze his guts out, and set him on the counter. He scoops out my freshly ground beans and helps me pour the boiling water on top of them. We have a few moments together before the other half begins to make their moves. I’m grateful. I’ve always been grateful for the early mornings i spend with Notch, but this is different. we both recognize the change. we both acknowledge it with reverence.
Five years in, we are lucky ducks to be still giving this remote and isolated living a go. we know it. and like the rest of all the blessings i have been bestowed, i hope to keep acting like we deserve it.