It's nice to picture Julia running around on her own lawn, on her own grass, and though I know it's a waste of water, and we have half a dozen parks within walking distance, I really want it for her. And for us. We've been here three months and have yet to have a housewarming. I really want to be able to have all of our friends over to see our new place, but without outdoor space, it's just too small. The living room has turned into a playroom for Julia, so we have almost no furniture, and no coffee table. It's in the garage, where our bookshelves will probably be soon, as they serve no other purpose than holding her stuffed animals. And of course, as soon as I put them up there, they become fascinating enough to immediately pull down, so it's a constant back and forth.
With the yard, we can eat outdoors, barbeque, put up a playstructure and a sandbox for little J, and on those days when I just can't bear the park, we can hang out back there, and she can feel the sunshine from the the safety and privacy of our own home. It's funny, ever since I became an adult, I've wanted to be in the city, and I have been. I've lived in Baltimore, DC, and then San Francisco. But just as soon as Julia came along, bam, I began longing for a little three bedroom house like the one I grew up in in Silver Spring, complete with a grass lawn, front and back. I'm a few weeks from being thirty-five and I finally feel like a grown-up. When I think of the urban life I've led for the past 12 years, it's funny that it also feels like going full circle.
Just a few weeks from thirty-five, and it's also the first time I've really kept up with housework. The division of labor with me at home has become something out of Ozzy and Harriet, and crazily enough, I don't mind as much as I thought I would. I think the thing about being a liberated woman in this day and age centers around having choices. If I'm expected to stay home, take care of my child, cook meals and clean house, then it's burdensome. If I choose to do it, then it's freeing to a degree. I think the fact that we're approaching this as an experiment, one that can succeed or fail depending on our individual contributions, gives me some relief. This is something we're doing now, while Julia is still young. It's not a forever thing, and it's not my only option. I can always go back to work; I can even go back to school, and there's no end of options for either choice.
Sometimes I feel as if this is a gift Karissa is giving me, and the only way I can show my gratitude is to make it worthwhile for her to have me at home. So in exchange for the stress of supporting Julia and I financially, she gets to come home to dinner and a clean house. And even given the work involved, and the fact that I think I'm working harder than I ever did with a full-time job, I get to spend my days with my daughter. And unlike a day job, if I don't feel like doing housework one day, I just don't. The consequences are pretty minor, as long as I don't flake every day.
The sticky thing is always money, though, isn't it? I'm also chief financial officer of the house now, and to keep us on track, we're on a pretty tight budget. It's not forever, just until we get some of our debt paid down, but it's hard sometimes to keep Julia and I entertained when the purse strings are so tight. It's basically, stay in the house or go to the park. And I know it's early in the game to be saying this, but the park is really getting old. There's this weird etiquette. You can strike up a conversation with someone, hit it off, your kids can hit it off, and you can leave the park an hour later never having even exchanged names, much less numbers or emails. And a lot of people seem to want to keep to themselves. Maybe I'd follow suit, but I've been blessed with a child that goes up to children and adults and says, Hi! boisterously, then again louder if she doesn't get a response. She's also at the age where she thinks every toy, ball, shovel, etc. is fair game, even if another child is playing with it. And then there are the kids who tease or provoke my child because she's younger and doesn't understand. Often their parent isn't watching or listening to them, but rather, is talking on a cell phone or to another adult. These are the exceptions, rather than the rules of the park game, but it's been enough lately to turn me off to the whole thing.
To sum up, things are good. And the challenges are about what I expected. It doesn't make them easier, per se, but at least I feel like I went into this thing with my eyes open. I guess when it comes down to it, I'm still looking around, sorting out this new life of mine.