Little girl playing dress up at teatime. Photo ℅ Jennifer Little of Sugar Photography
When Husband and I were looking for a home to buy four and a half years ago, we found a wonderful old craftsman, lovingly restored and updated with plenty of space and a large yard in our coveted neighborhood, a suburb just a few stops from the city. While walking through the upstairs sunroom connecting two of the bedrooms, Husband said to me,
“So, your mom will stay in that bedroom,” pointing to the door, “and then can hang out and read in this nice space,” gesturing to the sofa against the windows, “while the kids play,” motioning to the floor, “since they”ll probably share this other room,” pointing to the second adjacent bedroom.
At the time of that conversation, we had a clear idea of what we wanted our future to be, and were planning to live in a way that would welcome and accommodate that vision. At the time, we were not expecting children, nor was my newly widowed mother even slightly interested in leaving her home to move in with us, but he and I assumed that the future would naturally progress in the way we envisioned, as it had for many couples before us. We had saved up for our down payment. We had planned out many things for our future. We spoke for hours each night over dinner about what our life would be like, the holidays we would host with friends and their children, how to fit both sides of the family into our home after successfully convincing everybody why flying to the Bay Area was the best idea at Christmas. We were so happy to have potentially found a home where I could imagine hiding Easter eggs in the grass, and growing flowers that my mom would help me cultivate. We pictured converting the basement into a space that served as both a man cave and a venue for hosting game nights, Super Bowl potlucks, silly dance parties and extended family sleepovers. How grown up we felt that day. How much more growing up we were not aware we had in store.
We decided we did not immediately need a house for a family of four plus grandma, so we chose to buy a condo downtown and agreed to move out when the time was right. Four and a half years after making that decision, we still do not need that house. We are not one of those couples for whom not having children nearly eight years into our marriage has been a choice. Life has made that happy scenario of mom reading in the sunroom and walking to the grocery by herself on her way home from morning mass improbable because she is now battling the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. When playing grown up, I thought it was about shoes, clothes, perfume, makeup and date night on Fridays. In high school I had stars in my eyes, ready to conquer the world with my persistence and plans. But there are cases, even in the most blessed lives, when sometimes life changes us and not the other way around. Sometimes God and the universe has other plans. It is very grown up indeed to accept these unknown plans elegantly and have the grace to live as if you chose this path on your own.
Being grown up is so much more … well, grown up isn’t it?