It’s a 35-45 minute commute from school to my parents house every night, and the first thing the boys want to do when we pull into the driveway is play ball or soccer in my parents’ side yard. Forget dinner. Forget homework. If they don’t have a chance to play for a few minutes, there will be tears (Ben) or whining/pouting (Adam). Sometimes just the two of them play, sometimes Aaron pitches them balls, and a few nights ago we ALL played. It was Aaron and my parents vs. me and the boys. I think we won. I can’t remember. I haven’t seen my mom laugh that hard in a long time, and my dad seemed more youthful than ever. It was good for the soul … for all of us.
Aaron is one of those dads who gets home from work and immediately channels his energy into his family. He doesn’t disappear to putter in the garage, sit at the laptop and check email, watch TV, head to the gym, or come up with excuses not to hang out with the little people in his life. He takes off his tie and is IMMEDIATELY either helping with dinner or playing with the kids. He isn’t cranky, either, when he walks in the door, even if traffic was a nightmare and his commute took well over an hour. I’m a pretty half-glass-full kind of girl, but when I’m crabby, I can’t hide it. Somehow he can. He’s good about not taking out a bad day on anyone else. That’s not to say he’s perfect, because no one is perfect, but he’s respectful and kind and helpful and thoughtful and really listens when people talk, and those personality traits make not only a good husband and friend, but a good son-in-law/temporary roommate.
When I tell people we’re temporarily living with my parents while we look for a house, they either look horrified, look at me with pity, or make some lighthearted joke like, “How’s that going?” Very rarely do people say “You’re living with your parents? That’s SO COOL!” But really, it IS cool. I like it. The boys like it. Aaron doesn’t even mind. My parents have reassured us that they like having us here, they swear they don't hear us getting ready in the mornings—although I think they're just saying that, because how could they not? And once we get home from school/work, they say they like the activity and energy (so much energy) to interrupt the routine of their retirement years, some new conversation, happy news instead of the sad news you start receiving on a more frequent basis when you're 65+. We all get along so well, and I consider that a blessing. For a long time I've said that I'd rather go on a double-date with my parents than anyone else, and I still believe that. When we do finally find our house, I’ll miss things like impromptu ball games in the yard after school/work, our late-night tradition of watching House of Cards when the kids are in bed, having extra help with the boys (I think my dad actually LIKES helping the boys with their math homework. Me? Not so much), evening boat rides, always having a gender ally (thanks Mom), and dinner! Oh, dinner. My mom prepares dinner every night so that it’s hot and ready when we roll up around 6 p.m. (We buy all of the groceries and come up with the meal plan.) I didn’t realize how very much I hated making dinner until I didn’t have to make dinner.
Nearly every night, Aaron and my dad bond over a “good” beer. Last night they watched the Twins downstairs while my mom and I watched All Good Things upstairs and we were all happily doing what we wanted to be doing, and bonus! We had someone to talk to about the game or movie (*what a disturbing movie, based on a true story, but RYAN GOSLING). We are saving money by not having a mortgage. We are surrounded by the fruits of my parents’ labor: their beautiful updated kitchen, spa-like bathroom, fireplace, peaceful backyard, pontoon. As most parents do, they share what they have with us. Not that I ever doubted the benefits of generational living before, but now I understand from personal experience why it works so well. My parents get to see their grandkids every day. The boys are developing a close and special relationship with my parents. We have been given the gift of quality time with them, because let's be honest, we're not getting any younger and tomorrow isn't guaranteed for anyone. We are completely spoiled by this living situation and we know that. We don’t take their generosity for granted.
Adam would like to live with my parents forever. He feels safe and secure there. Of course he does: Aaron, Adam, Ben and I are all sleeping in one room downstairs. You can’t get much more together than that. And while it’s sweet to be right there with my boys, just an arm-length away, I miss getting a solid night’s sleep in my own bed, with Aaron by my side. I miss having access to our things (the other day I wanted to use a blender, and my mom said they didn’t have one. Ours is packed away in the Pod.) I miss having our own space and our own dirt to clean and our own grass to mow. Even when something goes wrong, there’s a sense of pride and accomplishment when it’s yours. I miss my privacy. I miss being able to hide ugly moments from my parents (ridiculous meltdowns (the kids), stupid arguments (me and Aaron), those times you don’t feel the need to bring up when you’re at your house and your parents are at their house, but have nowhere to hide when you’re all under one roof).
I want to find our next home so the kids can make friends and get settled before the start of the school year. I want to entertain friends and family in an open kitchen, relax after a long day by taking a bubble bath, have a bonfire in the backyard, and walk to the park. I want to go for a run around the neighborhood while the boys ride their bikes in front of us. I want to recognize our neighbors, the friendly ones, the distant ones, the ones with the beautiful flower garden, the ones with the little dog that always runs away, the ones who might one day invite us into their fold. I'm ready for the next chapter in our lives.
Man oh man, though, is this housing market DISMAL. We’re trying not to get too discouraged, but it’s frustrating when home after home after home on our search just isn’t “right.” That one looks nothing like it does online, that one is too close to the freeway/the prison/that possibly contaminated site, that one doesn't have enough storage, that one is too small, that one has a goofy layout, that one smells like cat pee, that one smells like cigarettes, that one is in a sketchy neighborhood, that one has a miniscule backyard, that one has issues. I have decided that this is what online dating must feel like. You put in your requirements, see the potential matches, get excited at the possibilities, “meet” in person, then leave feeling disappointed because there wasn't a love connection, the photos were deceiving, the inadequacies are so obvious when you're standing right in front of them, and you don't want to settle because DAMMIT you DESERVE to find “The One.”
So, the search continues. And in the meantime, we’ll appreciate our roommates and random games of ball in the yard, because I know these days/weeks/months, this blip on our overall timeline, will create happy “remember when?” memories that we'll cherish forever.