So we just bought our first house. What a crazy process that’s been. We’re in southern California, so the market alone is enough to make your head spin. Add to that concerns about asbestos, lead paint, electric, and plumbing, and you have some anxious homebuyers/homeowners.
We’re happy with what we got, don’t get me wrong. We’re actually really happy with it. And since our rent on our current lease isn’t up yet, we’re moving into the house slowly.
I’ve been dropping off a few boxes or whatever furniture I can fit in our car each day, and then I clean and scrub while the baby plays in the backyard.
Today, after I’d carried in the dining room chairs and had the maintenance guy install new smoke alarms, I was doing my usual rubber gloved scrubbing. All the windows and doors were open to let the new carpet air out. And Claira was enjoying her new grassy playspace.
Claira just turned 17 months old. While I dusted the blinds, she marched right up to me, took my hand, and pulled me determinedly towards the back yard. I decided to humor her and go along. Then I thought, “Oh wait, I don’t have my phone on me. What if someone calls or Claira does something cute that I want to take a picture of?” As if she read my mind, my 1-year-old slowly closed the sliding door behind me.
She looked up at me and handed me a bit of moss she’d picked up. Then I sat down beside her and we marveled at the tiny, deep green moss leaves together. Claira stacked the chunks of wet dirt and moss on the patio like blocks, watching me to make sure I noticed how cool this feat was. Suddenly I was humming Kimigayo, the Japanese haiku turned national anthem. Why on earth would I do that you ask? There’s a line in it about “lush eternal moss”, and I think it’s actually a really beautiful song and zen to the max. It reminds me of when I lived in Japan, and we would sing the song at school assemblies.
I realized that, in our rushed escrow and haste to fix up this house, we hadn’t really taken the time to stop and enjoy that it was actually ours. Our first ever house. Our first ever backyard. Our own grass and lemon trees. They’d been sitting there waiting to be enjoyed, and I was just scrubbing the kitchen sink.
It may seem cliche to say that kids teach you things. But it’s also beautiful to recognize. Until the sun went down, my daughter & I explored our new backyard together with no pressure to clean and no phone in my pocket. We played in the dirt. We pointed out the tasty looking avocados in the neighbor’s tree. We scouted out a good place to sit where the mountains were visible in the distance. We went to the front yard and said Hi to people walking their dogs.
And when the sun went down and we went back inside, I left my rubber cleaning gloves on the counter and kept humming Kimigayo.