Things I’ve let go of this week:
We’ve decided to move to the city to be closer to Mike’s work. We built a great life in the suburbs, but Mike is hardly ever in it! This move will reduce his weekly commute by 12 hours! That’s 8 hours he can spend with the kids. Right now, he’s out of the house before they wake to avoid the morning commute. On a good night, he’s home around 7:30 or 8:00. So, the kids get a hug and kiss, about 10 minutes to play with Dad while he settles in, and it’s off to bed. Weekends are our only real family time. Why???
Neither of us ever questioned this before now. We just accepted that if we wanted to give our kids the best life possible, we had to sacrifice certain things. But, as I’ve begun to simplify and try to live more intentionally, I see that the most important thing for our family is just that…our family. The kids miss their dad, and their dad misses them. It doesn’t have to be this way.
The realization hit me during one of my recent decluttering bouts (I’ve used my free time during Mike’s busy travel schedule lately to empty every room, drawer, and closet in the house). This night, I was cleaning out the chest in the family room. I looked around the room and noticed something interesting; we have very little art on our walls (by choice), but what we do have says something. In the kitchen, we have a large print of downtown Chicago in 1955 (brought from Mike’s Chicago office) and two paintings of fruit (gifts from my friend in Chicago). In our bedroom, we have one color drawing of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. In the entry, there are three photos of the kids: a photo of Ryan at his uncle’s wedding, a photo of Ashby taken by my sister at a local park, and a photo of both kids playing on Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Finally, the family room: three wedding photos (all in San Francisco) and three black and white drawings of San Francisco (a view from the Golden Gate Bridge, a view from the Bay Bridge, and the Palace of Fine Arts). Notice a pattern?
We love San Francisco! It’s where we were married, where we first lived together, and where Mike works. But, we couldn’t raise kids in the city…or could we? Since we homeschool, the schools aren’t a factor. We are already in southern Marin three days a week between science, Mandarin, and theatre; our driving time will be equal or better coming from the city. And, we’ll finally be able to use all the memberships we pay for already (but use far too rarely due to the drive): the Academy of Sciences, the DeYoung Museum, the Asian Art Museum, the SF Zoo…
When we moved into this house, I thought I’d be here forever. We spent five months renovating it and the next two years doing complete makeovers on the front and back yards. We finally finished this summer. So, yes…it’s hard to let go. But, when I get sad, I remind myself why we are doing this: 12 hours…breakfast and dinner as a family. It’s a simple choice.
This is a house. It was here before us, and it will be here after us. “Home” is wherever we are…all four of us.