Today is Monday. On Saturday just gone, we slept for the last time in your first home.
Due to the audacity of landlords wanting to increase their rent (despite promised jobs that are now 12 months overdue), we were quick to find a new rental – a cheaper rental, further from the beach, with a smaller garden, and a renewed motivation to buy/build a place of our own!
I had planned to write to you on the last night – whilst everything was still current, before it gave way to new memories, in a new home – and I wanted to tell you all the best bits of our time there, of the day-to-day routines, the moments, the small things and how big they have all been. But I completely forgot and then suddenly it was bedtime…
And now here we are already – one chapter ends as another one begins, and the days keep rolling.
So, today, I took you to our old home – which is now empty – to clean it before we hand the keys back. I picked us up some sushi so we could picnic on the old living room floor, remembering, taking it all in one last time. I also took some of your toys and expected you would play, whilst I whizzed through the cleaning. I thought we might have time to pick the last lot of lemons off the tree in the back-garden, before you would need to nap again. I even prepared myself for a few tears. But they didn’t come.
You had fallen asleep in the car in the 10 minutes between our old and new homes. So I drove by at first, to give you a longer nap. And nothing. Nothing at all.
I saw the familiar street, the same mailbox, the front door that was once the barrier between us and the rest of the world, the same drawn curtains which would have my fingerprints all over them. But all I felt was completely disconnected.
This is always the way, of course – I’ve moved house often enough to know the disconnection that comes when you move from one house to the next – but I didn’t expect it to be the way with this house.
The house that we planned to birth you in. The house that I sheltered in during my last trimester of pregnancy, where I laboured, brought you home from hospital, learned to breastfeed you, lay awake countless midnight hours either with you, or insomnia, or figuring our new family life out with your daddy. The house where we gave you your first bath, cooked you your first meal, heard your first laughter, caught all of your newborn tears, and magic, and love.
We moved out yesterday. How could it all now mean nothing?
When we did go inside, the house smelled not of us. Dead crickets littered the dining and living rooms where the heavy couches had once stood (and I had never moved to vacuum underneath). My voice echoed from the ridiculously high ceiling which was hard to heat in winter, and impossible to cool in summer. You looked at me, confused. And the moment I put you down on a picnic mat with our lunch, you cried. You reached for me and you cried your eyes out.
You knew something was odd. And you were right. It was like a strange sort of death. Of how nothing had once been everything.
You refused to eat, and my appetite had disappeared too – I stared at the crickets, and couldn’t think straight, so I called your daddy. I felt a hard lump in my throat and it hurt to swallow. When he told me the cleaning would be taken care of, and to go home or somewhere nice to have our lunch, I cried. But I packed us up and drove back to the new rental, which held our belongings in unfamiliar places.
Then this afternoon something happened which gave me new perspective.
You had been incredibly unsettled all day – wanting nothing but to sit in my arms, resting your head on my chest. This was very unlike you – you are usually far too busy to sit around snuggling – but I loved it. After an afternoon nap in your cot, I collected you when you woke and took you to the couch to breastfeed you. Then for the next couple of hours we snuggled together, you dozing, letting me stroke and kiss you and hold you close. I needed the comfort and the closeness and I figured that’s what you needed too.
I had sensed you were a little warmer than usual, so when your daddy was home I asked him to fetch a thermometer. Your temperature was a frightening 39 degrees. More than that, when I sat you up you were awake but very limp. You hadn’t just needed comfort, you were unwell. We tended to you and managed to get you down to 38.5, before taking you to A&E on the advice of PlunketLine.
You were fine, completely fine – cooled down by the fresh, early evening air – and socialising with everyone in the waiting room. I fed you rice pudding out of the jar, and tried in vain to keep you snuggled on my knee – but you were too busy, once again.
And then we were heading home for the night.
And that’s it – just 24 hours into the new place, I already felt we are indeed “home.”
Because home isn’t about having my belongings in familiar places. Not entirely anyway. Home, is the little sanctuary I have in this world, with you and your daddy. A shelter, a locked door, and a warm place to live, and love, and grow together.
Our old home didn’t end, or finish, or die… it came with us. It is all still with us. Life is a constant motion of, simply, moving on.
I’m so happy we have you to move on with, baby.