Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Breathing Room

It's funny how being in a different space makes everything, well...different. As we settle into the new abode, I can't help being surprised by some of the things I'm noticing. Some are not so much surprising as eye opening, I guess.

I once read an article by an anthropologist who had spent time studying the effects of overcrowding on mice and, later, on people. Well, not just overcrowding but also a shortage of essentials like food and clean water. Long story short, the mice ate their babies, and the humans let theirs wander into the fire and found it funny, or deprived their loved ones of anything they themselves could get their hands on, even if it was something the loved ones needed and they themselves did not, like medicine for a specific illness.

I wasn't quite to the point of eating my young in the small house, but I was getting close. For a long, long time, that house was fine. It seemed to grow as we grew. I felt that people did not really need as much space as we Americans tend to think we need, and I still believe that. But somewhere in the past year or so, suddenly we popped a seam and the house went from cozy to tight like your skinny jeans 20 pounds later. My response to that too-tight feeling was mainly to hide out in my room, yelling at any child who tumbled into my space, and swearing that I hoped my kids either never had kids, or lived far away before they did so that I would not be expected to babysit. Because honestly, for a while now I've been feeling that if I can just get my kids grown and out of the house, I never want to see another child again as long as I live. Ev. Er. And that's a shame, because my kids are beautiful and smart and funny and sweet. But they're also kids, which means they're often spazzy and loud and whiny and needing something, anything, right that minute. Add in the fact that there are so many of them, and the odds that at least one will be doing something undesirable at any given moment go way up. Throw all that into a 1200 square foot house and well, you get the picture.

But now that we have room to spread out, I find myself feeling better. More relaxed and cheerful and less like there's a swarm of spider monkeys climbing up my body and swinging dangerously close to my head. That's not really surprising, but it's still somewhat like waking from a dream in which the bizarre felt normal, and only in retrospect can my rational mind recognize the insanity.

And of course, my being more relaxed and happy has translated to the kids being less clingy and needy. They are even being very cooperative about bedtime, and Genevieve is putting herself back to sleep most of the times she wakes up at night, which is a totally new thing. They're not underfoot while I cook dinner, and they're not fighting over a single couch cushion, b.k.a. "spot!" on the extra-large couch. As a result, I'm spending some time in the evenings on said couch instead of holed up in my bedroom. It's all circular.


Memphisotan said...

I was thinking the same thing last night when I was bathing Mr. Baby and couldn't hear another child, despite there being five others in the house.

Stephanie said...

That's good to hear! I was a little worried about you. And I was starting to feel guilty any time I brought my kids around.

Sassy Molassy said...

Well, other people's kids don't really bother me, because they don't climb on me and ask me for stuff constantly.

Chip said...

Yeah, it's usually just Steph that does that to you.

Rita said...

God, we need to move. Now.

I'm glad your move is going so well, that is so great for you. 1200 sq feet is a tiny cage for so many people. It's great you were able to snatch an opportunity like this and spread out!

Ladyhobbes said...

You've pretty much just described every day in my life..

Glad things are going great in the new house!