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Thursday, May 2, 2013

It's Nice to Have a Brother To Love

Things changed over the past couple weeks. We thought we'd be selling our home and moving to a bigger house that fit our family better, but things changed and we have decided to stay where we are. We've decided to make things work in the house we have. It's a long story. Bottom line, if I didn't have my family and friends, I'd be in a very deep, low place right now. 

We put the house on the market two weeks ago. Two hours later, we had a showing, before the house was even listed on any websites. Later that night, Alex and I decided we just couldn't sell the house. We had to call the realtor and take the house off the market. She said that the people who had seen our house were interested and were at home "crunching numbers." I figured our house would go fast. But within two hours, that's just flattering! All those walls I scrubbed, windows I washed, cupboards I polished, baseboards I dusted, flowers I planted, drawers I cleaned out, doors I rinsed...it all paid off. For two hours, at least.

I felt angry and numb at the sudden decision we had had to make. I had lived, eaten, and breathed "packing the house" for three solid weeks. Day in, day out. Every fiber of my being was solely focused on getting things packed, donated, or thrown away so we could successfully sell. And now all of a sudden it was all gone. I was crushed. 

The next day was Saturday, and I knew if I stayed in the house, I was going to have a mental breakdown. I thought about who I could call to help me. Mom and Dad were out of town. My next thought was my brother and sister-in-law. I had been numb until I called my little brother. When I heard his voice, I broke into tears. I asked him if it would be ok if some of us came to visit. I didn't know how long we'd stay, or who was coming, but I needed help. He said of course I could come, we could stay as long as we wanted, and any of us could come. 

When my brother and I were young, we went to boarding school in Africa. It was a small school, maybe about 10 kids total, grades 1-8. My brother and I have a special connection because of the years where we relied so much on each other at school, when we didn't have our parents. This was the first time I've ever really, really needed my little brother's help since we were little. And of course he was there for me. My brother and sister-in-law welcomed us into their home for the weekend, and they healed my soul.

Ben, Ella, Aidan and I threw a bag together, popped some sleeping bags in the van, and took off for the 2 hour drive. Jonah and Alex stayed home. Alex wasn't feeling well and Jonah just felt like staying home. On the drive, the kids were great, amazingly. I couldn't stop crying, but I just put on my big ol' sunglasses and let the tears roll and the kids were oblivious. 

We spent the weekend playing with cousins, shopping, visiting a candy store, talking, brainstorming about what was next for our family, and just soaking in the love at my brother and sister-in-law's home. I will just always be so grateful to them for helping me. I was raw and upset, and they listened and loved me. I will aways be grateful. Our family is always there for each other when it counts. 

The kids all wanted to sleep in the same room with me that night, so we all snuggled into one of our cousin's rooms. As I fell asleep that night, I listened to the breathing of three of my children around me and tried to "just be" with the big changes that were happening for us. Being with my peaceful, sleeping children comforted me. 

Until we, of course, had to play musical sleeping bags during the night. 

It was still worth it to stay overnight.

There is a book our kids love called "Brothers Are For Making Mud Pies." It's a great book about all the ways brothers can love you and you can love a brother. It says in there "It's nice to have a brother to love." That is so true. And sister-in-law, I have to add.

As we left my brother's home, the hugs my family gave me filled me with strength to face real life again. I was armed with emotional armor that my brother and sister-in-law had lent me. I was ready to stand up and tackle life again. I didn't cry under my sunglasses on the way home.

As I gingerly drove up our driveway, looking at the open garage gaping with boxes that were filled with all our belongings, I was worried about what was coming next. But I decided I had to get out of the car and deal with the garage and its boxes. So I took a deep breath and I did. 

The kids had to get used to the idea of moving, of painting the rooms they loved, of packing up their toys, books, and loved things. Now they've had to get used to the idea of not moving. They're happy they get to stay in the neighborhood we're in, with all their buddies. And as each day goes on, more friends and neighbors find out we're not actually moving, and the joy that these sweet people throw around me when they find out this news keeps me uplifted and going forwards. I feel loved and valued as a part of our community, and I cherish that.

My sister-in-law, brother and I brainstormed a lot that weekend about how to make our family fit better into our home. My sister-in-law had a kooky, awesome idea. She asked if we'd ever thought of Aidan and Ella sharing a room. Duh! Why hadn't I ever thought of that before? The more I thought about it the more I loved the idea. Jonah and Ben really need their own rooms for emotional reasons. They are dealing with things, because of their mood disorders and ADHD, that other kids don't have to experience, and they need a place in the house that is theirs. A place that they are not irritated to be in. Ella and Aidan love to be with someone. All the time. They get along well most of the time and love to be together. I like having a Girly Room, but now it is just going to have to be half of a Girly Room. 

Last week, Alex and I presented Auntie's Amazing Idea to the kids. Everyone loved it. Jonah knew not to make too big a deal about getting his own room, because then Aidan would probably throw a stink about wanting his own room too. But Jonah looked at me with all his excitement bursting at the seams. He was thrilled. Aidan and Ella were equally as joyful. Ella knew she was a Big Kid now, getting to share a room is a big deal at our house. Aidan couldn't wait to read Ella books in their room, he said.

Ella and I moved the rooms around. There is a little bit of painting that still has to be done, but the furniture and clothes are where they belong now. Jonah's room is painted a soothing blue that he picked out. Everyone is happy. Well, everyone has been happy except for Aidan on the first night reality sunk in that he had to share a room with someone new. He got very worried at bedtime, and just kept repeating in a tiny, unhappy voice "Why did we do this? Why did we do this?" But now he's happy. Ella asked me once if she could snuggle in Aidan's bed if she woke up too early. I said no, we have to let everyone sleep if they're still sleeping. Aidan had overheard, and popped out of his chair where he'd been hunkered down. He said enthusiastically "Mom! Ella can come and snuggle with me if she wakes up!" So sweet.

Everyone is getting acclimated to the new room setup. Ben and Jonah are content, each with their own spaces. Now I just have to redecorate Ella and Aidan's room, and it'll all be good. 

This whole house thing has made me remember what I love about our house and our neighborhood. At least I was able to purge a billion pounds of junk from our home. And half our stuff is still in boxes in the garage, because I just don't have the heart to start unpacking it after all the work it took to pack it in the first place. I'll get to it eventually.

Everyone has readjusted. Although Ella keeps bringing up the fact that she really had her heart set on moving. Ok, Miss Diva. Just like when I face struggles with the kids, I have to have time to mourn and be angry and sad...and I feel those things hard and deep. And then I'm able to slowly pick up and move on. If my sister-in-law and brother hadn't been there for me during this crazy time, I just don't know what I would have done. I thank God for my family every single day.  

I think there's a reason for everything. So I guess we were meant to stay here for now. And I'm ok with that. Finally.

And it sure is nice to have a brother to love. And sister-in-law.

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