So…how does this all work?
To be honest, I’m shocked that more people with kids don’t just move in with friends who have kids. It is so much easier to have a toddler when there’s another mom with a toddler right nearby. I am now able to toss my 3-year-old in the general direction of Kate’s 3-year-old and wander away. This is just how people used to do children, isn’t it, historically. And how they still do children, all around the world?! Lots of grown-ups and lots of kids all around each other. It’s some very small number of years I suppose, on the grand scale of things, where we sort of broke society over here and everyone became convinced that a family was going to be a husband, a wife, and their kids, and they just have to handle it on their own in all its misery. I think I’m meant to put up a shiny photo on Instagram, of beautiful me, my handsome husband, and my adorable child, where all of us are smiling and somehow not looking exhausted or like we all want to kill each other. I am impressed, and yes, slightly skeptical of those of you for whom this has worked, and I think have always known it was never going to work for me. My parents are also parents to Cian; I don’t know how I would have done my dissertation, or indeed, made it through his first several months of life, without them. My brother has shown up for extended periods when I’ve been on shaky ground. My Chobi Aysha’s actual blood is in Cian’s body because he needed a transfusion when he was in the NICU (and she was at the hospital when I gave birth)! And now I live with Kate. It was never going to work with just me and handsome husband and adorable child. I shudder to even think about it.
And yes, there are major tradeoffs to what Kate and I have done. There are things that are harder now that we are all living in the same house, things we had to give up. But guess what! When you have kids, there is a lot you have to give up! That’s just what happens! And a lot of it is never OK! I certainly do not regret having my son. So much do I not regret it that I even want another little one. But I have never made peace with having lost my solitude, my being alone in the world. That never became all right. It still isn’t all right. I’m just wading through life with some things that will never be all right. Aren’t we all?
My apologies, I digress. So, how does this all work?
There are a few things that are really important to our set up. One is that our house is a duplex – two floors. Each floor has two bedrooms and a bathroom. The top floor has the kitchen and the bottom floor has the living room. Kate has the bottom floor bedrooms and I have the top floor ones. Two floors means most of the time we leave each other alone, with Kate downstairs and me upstairs, Kate coming up if she needs to cook and me going down if I need to lounge on the couch, or if we want to do a work meeting together or chit chat. The separation is crucial because we are working from home, and because the kids need time apart too and having spaces where they can be away from each other has turned out to be important. It is also important because I’m happiest when I can kind of just be alone in my room all the time not talking to anyone. Kate gets this, so it works out. She’ll be in the kitchen sometimes and I’ll be shuffling around in my room saying nothing to anybody and nobody cares.
The kids go up and down a lot more than we do. Ryah duly brings up packages that arrive for me or Steven downstairs or whatever of Cian’s clothes ended up in her laundry (she also sometimes comes up to scope out if there’s a snack, since kitchen is up here). Cian stands at the top of the stairs and wails “Ryaaaaaah”, then goes thumping down the stairs on his butt to find her.
Oh, there’s negotiations even with two floors. Cian goes to bed much later and wakes up much later than Ryah (though not for long – they start 3k in a couple weeks). The first few days of living together, they hadn’t gotten over the excitement of it, and Ryah came charging up the stairs to find Cian and stormed into our bedroom where we were all totally asleep. Most of these little things have been figured out by now (they’ve also calmed down and accept that they now live in the same house). Sometimes they get in trouble and are sternly sent to separate floors. Like, a couple days ago Kate found them colouring on Ryah’s door. I am guessing this was Cian’s idea. Kate put an end to this activity. This caused a lot of sorrow all around. Cian had to come upstairs. He put his head on my lap and said plaintively, “I only want to colour where I’m not allowed to, and I don’t know why.” Ryah was defiant. She was not happy about having to give up the crayons. However, she was also amicable later about helping clean it off, so there’s that.
The other vital thing about our house is the backyard. The backyard! A backyard is like free child care for a 3-year-old! We are so very lucky to have a backyard. They just mess around in the dirt for like, hours. I can see them from my second-floor window, and Kate can usually go out to them if there’s ever a need. They are often dumped in a bath together after backyard playing, because they’re almost always barefoot and somehow their games tend to involve dumping dirt in each other’s hair. For us grown-ups, our backyard is perfect for BBQs, outdoor parties which are of course all the thing with COVID, and for staring up at the leaves on a Saturday for a bit of green in the middle of city life.
OK. That’s our scene, a nice little mundane domestic post about our house and every day. That’s nice! For the one about how we went on a beach camping adventure for Kate’s birthday, got caught in an insane thunderstorm and got completely flooded and Ryah and Cian floated away (kind of) on a unicorn-shaped floatie, you’ll have to wait until next time.