There was this Rick Moody article in the Times that made me think about the place my kids are growing up. Since the birth of Moody's daughter, Hazel, a year and a half ago, the word "home" has taken on new meaning for him as he watches her discover, engage with, and map the little world she lives in. The home of my daughters, Abby and Penny, isn't mine. What does that mean for our family?
I moved to San Francisco quite by accident, landing here in a snit as I extricated myself from a long and annoying relationship. I thought six months on the west coast would be a refreshing break, but then I fell in love with a guy who couldn't move away from his kids, and I married and had kids with him. Meanwhile, my sister and I had our kids in what I call "lego order" - her first, then me, then her, then me, so that our children fit together in a neat foursome that I would be an idiot to break up.
Nonetheless, I define myself by my role as an unmoored New Yorker. God help me, I complain about the bagels. I ogle pictures of changing leaves. I cannot read "Knuffle Bunny" to Penny without pointing out that "Mommy used to live right here! See? Up the street on this page!"
So it's been startling to watch myself soften on the subject of "home."
First of all, I've completely demolished the definition of home that I grew up with. My parents bought a gorgeous, rambling, clapboard house at the top of a hill overlooking a park. It had a fireplace on which I remember knocking canisters of pre-made biscuits (that was how we opened them). It has a backyard where we sledded, gardened, swung, and had picnics that led into a deep, mysterious, raspberry-filled forest. It has a central vacuum cleaner and a laundry chute that goes from the top floor to the basement (like in the first "Good Dog, Carl" book). I lived in that house for my first 18 years, and much as I'm defined by the next 24 spent in and around New York City, I'm also defined by that house and its familiar crannies and mothball scent.
My kids have spent their lives in tiny apartments, and have already moved once and (god willing) will do so at least once more, when our ship comes in. So it doesn't seem like they'll have the same rootedness of place. On the other hand, I've put down emotional roots that their little roots are entwining with, and ripping us all out to move back East when the youngest step-kid goes to college (in 8 years) suddenly seems a lot less possible.
MORE ON BABY'S FIRST YEAR:
Naomi's decodes Baby Fuzz's Mad Cry
Are Babies Who Sleep More Smarter?
Scent of a Boobie: Amy Ponders the Aroma of Breast-Feeding