Mixed Company

A friend is having her basement finished, so her home is a smattering of construction workers, tools, and work in progress.

She invited the boys over to see the progress, from bare beams and cement floors to finished carpet and plumbed bathroom.

The construction worker, looking to create a bond with my five-year-old in terms they could both understand, showed Tyler the unfinished bathroom.

“See these holes in the floor, buddy?  That’s for pee and poop.”

Tyler looked at him squarely.  “Excuse me, but it’s not appropriate to speak that way in front of ladies.”

Well, well.  My friend said she looked at the construction worker, and she filled in the awkward silence by saying, “They have a single mom.  She’s training them very well.”

(A highest of compliments.  I believe I’ll write that on my hand today as a personal dose of affirmation.)

For all the millions of times he comes out with these words (and worse!), he knows what is appropriate.  And inappropriate.

And I wonder if he knows I’m a lady.

Our New Home, Part IV

On our drive through the neighborhood, a smiling man approached our car.  He was waving us down, waving us over, waving, waving.

I think he wanted to talk to us.

I put down the window, and he started talking.  “I’m the neighborhood ambassador!  Let me tell you about that house that’s for sale – the owner is a general contractor, so everything inside is top-notch.  They’ve taken excellent care of it, and the inside is immaculate.  Beautiful, beautiful home.  We are a close-knit neighborhood – we watch out for each other and all of the children.  Plenty of room to ride bikes, plenty of new friends, really, you couldn’t choose a better neighborhood.  What else can I tell you about it?”

“Well, I’d like to tell you that I bought it yesterday.”

He broke into a gracious, genuine smile.  “Well, welcome to the neighborhood!”

He pointed out his home, and he introduced me to another neighbor who was out washing his car in the driveway.  He told me, “We’ve lived here for nineteen years, watched every house go up, watched every family move in and move out.  We’re so glad you’re joining us.  So it’s you and your two sons?”

“Yes, I’m a widow, actually.  So for now, it’s just the three of us.”

He touched my arm.  “You couldn’t live in a safer place.  We will take care of you and those boys.  I promise.”

“Oh, and I know every floor plan in the neighborhood.  I’m the fixit guy.  If something breaks, you call me.  We’ll take care of you.  I promise.”

I foresee block parties

and trick or treats

and emergency contact numbers

and neighborhood watch

and new friends

and peace to close my eyes and rest.

How can you go wrong in a neighborhood with an ambassador and a welcoming committee?

It Does a Body Good

“I don’t want to drink my milk.  I don’t want to grow.
I don’t want to get too heavy.  I don’t want to get bigger.”

“I want to go to heaven.  I wish I could just die now.”

At first glance, these are alarming sentences from a five-year-old.

Eating disorder?  Body image, less common in boys but still possible?  God, help me… does he not want to live anymore?

I probed gently into these topics, maintaining an expression of zero concern.  I didn’t want him to put his words away if he thought the sight of them would scare me.

“Tell me more about that, buddy.”

“I don’t want to grow because I don’t want to be too big when I get to heaven.  If I’m too big, then I can’t play horsey with Daddy.  I wish I could just go now, while I’m still small, while he can still lift me.”

Oh, Tyler. My heart breaks with the things that worry you

“Buddy, I have good news: in heaven, every daddy can hold his son.  It doesn’t matter how big you are or how old he is – none of that matters there.  You can wrestle and play, climb all over him, and he’ll know just who you are and how you love to play.”

“So I can drink my milk?”

“You can drink your milk.”

Our New Home, Part III

I had looked at many houses; I had almost purchased two.  But sleeplessness is a good sign that something’s not quite right, a piece isn’t quite in place.

My physiology is very in tune with my decisions, and this is both a blessing and a curse.  I can feel – in the marrow of my bones – if the decision is right or wrong, if we are on the right path, if I’ve just said the wrong thing, if we need to flee immediately.

I just know that I know.  And with two houses, and I knew that I knew: the answer is no.

“Let’s look one more time.”

And, naturally, this is when I happened onto the new dwelling of my family and my heart.

“I’ll just give a quick call to the real estate broker,” my realtor told me.  “We’ll see if there’s any action on this house.”

It had been on the market for 48 hours, there were four offers on the home, and they would make a decision at noon.

It was 11:30.

“So, do you want to make an offer?”

He knows where we will go.  He knows when we will move.

“Yes.  Yes, I do.”

We drew up a verbal contract, a competitive offer that would make or break the sale.  Whitney slipped away to make some phone calls on my behalf, and I slipped upstairs to what I hoped would be my master bedroom.

I lay prostrate on the floor, my face to the carpet, and I prayed every prayer of surrender, every verse of submission that came to my mind.

If our God is for us, who could ever stop us?
Whom shall I fear?
He knows where we will go, he knows when we will move.
Not my will, but yours.
Not my home, but yours.

I lay on the floor until I knew it was time, until I knew my heart was fearless and secure in what I know to be true.

As I walked down the stairs, my mom said, “Hey, Trish, remember how it felt the day you bought your wedding dress?”

(And so let me tell you about the day I bought my wedding dress.  I went to a Make-a-Deal weekend at a bridal boutique in my home town; they were looking to clear out their inventory, so any bride could come and propose any reasonable offer for the dress she wanted.

I found the dress I wanted, but the price was far outside my range: $1,200.  Even now, that number rattles me.

I could affored $700.  So I made an offer.

They frowned.  They raised their eyebrows at one another.  They looked at the beadwork, the cathedral train, the price tag that so very much didn’t match the number I had given them.

“I’m not sure,” they said.
“We won’t make any profit on this dress.  What you are offering isn’t above the cost of the dress,” they said.

I stood on the fitting pedestal and looked into the mirrors surroundng me.  “Okay, well, while you’re deciding, I’m just going to keep it on.  Because if you have to say no and I have to give this back, I want to know I wore it as long as I possibly could.”

They met behind closed doors.  They came back to me and said, “We think you need to get married in this dress.  It’s yours.”

I cried.  At the risk of mascara on the unblemished gown, I cried.  But the beauty of it was this: the bridal consultants cried too.  The purchase was meant to be; the dress was mine.  And I never forgot that day.)

So when my mom asked if I remembered that day, if I remembered what it felt like, my mind did a quick game of connect-the-dots.

Offer. Deliberation. Approved.  Mine.

“Oh!  Oh!  Did I just buy a house?  Is that what just happened?  Is this mine?”

Whitney, my realtor who is brilliant and carries a heart of gold, said with a smile, “They took your offer.  They said your number will make the sale.”

I folded in half, nearly onto the floor.  And I cried.  At the risk of getting mascara on their unblemished furniture, I cried.  As reality settled into my hands, I cried more.  And more.  I spoke in unbroken, unfinished sentences.

“I get to…”
“I don’t have to….”
“I won’t have to…”
“I… I….”
“It’s going to…”

I get to start over.
I don’t have to sleep in the room where my life fell apart.
I won’t have to do this anymore.
I get to start over.
I get to change the course.
It’s going to change.

I didn’t realize how much oppression I had felt.

It’s more than a business transaction.  It’s more than a title and deed.  It’s a new chapter.  It is freedom.

It is life.  It is ours.