One day, a few months ago, Sonny and I sat down to look for a new apartment, or a house, to rent. The apartment that we were living in was just too small for the five of us to sardine through another winter in. Those of you who have at least three children know what I’m talking about. The combustible energy in a house increases exponentially with the addition of each new human being to the household. Five total inhabitants is where the rails start to feel a little wobbly. The situation was not helped by the fact that for whatever reason, the children only wanted to ever be in ONE room of the apartment, generally whatever room we were in, usually the livingroom, and that livingroom was not large.
Note that I used the word “was”. We trawled online for a new place and discovered quickly that a new apartment, of the size that we needed, would increase our rent by about $700/mo and would actually be far more than a mortgage on a house would be. And so…we bought a house.
Most of the houses in our price range were too small and I don’t say this lightly, completely disgusting. And we were only willing to entertain possibilities within a limited geographic range, to allow me to bike easily to my most frequent destinations, to eliminate unnecessary driving from my husband’s life, and to stand by our conviction that a thriving and inhabited greater downtown area is necessary for a healthy city.
We found one. Just one. And in the end, it all worked out. It’s a beautiful 1850 New Englander in mostly terrific condition that was owned by just one family until we bought it. It’s in one of the nicest neighborhoods in town. It’s two blocks from my parents house, and two blocks from the kids’ favorite park.
For the past couple of weeks we have been cleaning, painting and moving, and every time Sonny and I really thought we were at our wits’ ends in terms of stress levels and exhaustion a new surprise would spontaneously generate:
1) Some of the friends who said they could help us move, bailed (it is an inevitability of moving, of course…and to be fair, a few others REALLY stepped up).
2) Because of the date that the closing fell on, I am also trying to pull off a major event at the end of it all.
3) The intern that was supposed to be doing the legwork for that event went MIA with personal issues.
4) The house held many secrets. Some of them delightful. A carving left in a door jamb by a little boy who used to live in the house (he lived there in the 1920’s…cool old stuff). Some of them tear-inducing. Like the clogged water main backwashing bodily substances out of the downstairs toilet when we would flush the upstairs toilet. Some wallpaper removal, wallpaper covering, wallpaper repairing and plaster patching that should never have taken as long as it did. Oh…and the asbestos contractor…who nearly blew the whole house sale through his, and I swear I am not just playing armchair psychologist here, insanely frustrating obviously untreated ADHD BEHAVIOR that involved him fluctuating between fucking our paperwork and micromanaging things in a really inappropriate way…and then his crew taking out too much ductwork…which then dominoed into the furnace contractor having to create new ductwork…which involved more expense (and me having to beg them to let us set up a payment plan)…oh…and the water heater venting…that exposed a rickety chimney…which incited additional costs of mitigation.
5) And of course…the lice. Last night at dinner, our daughter complained of an itchy head. Checked her hair…sure enough…a THIRD FUCKING ROUND OF LICE in this still young school year. And dealing with lice is the BEST, especially when you don’t have a clothing dryer hooked up to help you (ahem, we don’t even own a dryer…we use clothing racks).
We are still not unpacked, still working toward executing the event and getting it over with (tinsel and LED snowflakes galore!), my husband is tragically alone at the house delousing as I type here at my desk, and we have no idea how much the plumbing repair is going to cost (they said somewhere between $300 and $2000, that must be paid on the spot, and which we do not possess)…but I still feel we made the right decision.
I managed to get so absorbed in the telling of the story though, that I almost completely forgot the point.
The POINT…is that because all of our stuff is in boxes, we are even more disoriented than usual in our routines of daily living and THAT…THAT is probably the most difficult factor! It took me waaaay too long to make dinner last night because I, er, couldn’t find anything. I have been wearing the same work-inappropriate low-rider jeans to work for three days because even if I’ve unpacked my work pants I don’t know where they went.
Because we are parents and care-takers of animals too, Sonny and I are responsible for maintaining a routine not just for ourselves, but for transitioning and maintaining routines for three children and four animals. Trying to cook dinner, as I said, was quite something in a new kitchen. We all share a bathroom now for the purposes of morning routines and that means newly programming the little boys to clean up after themselves after brushing their teeth (they had more leeway in the apartment where they had their own bathroom…because it took longer for us to notice the mess…we’re actually GLAD that the most convenient bathroom in the new house gives us a chance to more closely supervise their hygiene and cleanliness habits). The dogs were moved in before anyone, so they could start to claim a little ownership of their yard and get used to things, and see where their humans were going. The kids rolled in somewhere in the middle…and everyone knows (or SHOULD KNOW) that you always move cats last. You really have to move cats last so that everything they need is in place when they arrive, and people are done opening and closing doors for moving purposes, thus reducing the potential for accidental kitty escapes. Then they were sequestered for two days in our bedroom with their catbox, food and water. And then, when they were really cozy…the rest of the house. These cats have moved before…many, many times…but I always observe the same cat-moving protocol.
While it sounds like we put a lot of logic and thought and care into this whole process…and we DID and we DO…this is a huge ball of wax for our ADHD brains to process.
I also ran out of Concerta last week and can’t refill it ’til Friday…stellar.
This too, all of it, shall pass. We made the right decision. We’re moving forward. But moments have been overwhelming…and I think that the only reason we have been able to push through without losing it, is that Sonny and I are both people who have a high tolerance for other people’s imperfections. Translation: though we are both exhausted, tired, and overwhelmed, we are not eating each other’s faces off, for the most part. These are the times in life where you have to really maintain awareness of your quirks and work to not let those quirks run roughshod over your household. It’s not easy work, but it’s critical to at least try. Critical to at least make the attempt, critical to be able to admit your imperfections, and take a moment to expose your own intentions so that people can recognize your best efforts even if they didn’t produce a perfect result. Critical to cry if you need to for 10 minutes (okay in my case it was 3 hours…but it was absolutely necessary). Critical to remember that your partner, in the dicier moments, is usually a really nice person but at the moment they’re having a hard time and that that is ok.
Also critical to rememeber to take your ADHD meds when you have them.
And remember that the children and animals will temporarily behave as though they are housing internal firecrackers not to piss you off, but because they too, are beleaguered by transition.
Make sure to eat when you need to so you don’t just turn into a big dick.
Or go for a 30 minute jog in your work clothes in the middle of the day because you just can’t take another minute of any of it. I felt way better the other day after I tried that one.
Transition calls upon any of us to rise above our best. ADHD adds additional set of criteria to this process that cannot be ignored…haha, that LITERALLY cannot be ignored. Accepting that it is part of the process, and all that entails…completely mandatory for survival.