My plan to move into a new home this year fell through and we’re staying put for a while longer. I have to admit, that I kind of knew this would happen, but I still held out hope that maybe a miracle would occur. I am still hoping for a place with a yard where I could have an actual garden, maybe a few chickens, and a little play area for the kids. But that’s put off until next year at least. And while I’m sad for the outdoor space, I’m not so sad that we’ll be in our little home for a while longer.
I know the trend is toward bigger and bigger homes all around. Homes with all sorts of specialized rooms – a family room, workout room, craft room, library, workroom, and bedrooms for all and maybe a guest or two as well. But there’s something about little homes that are so endearing, so comfortable, cozy and warm…
When I was pregnant with my second, the eldest hadn’t even turned two yet. The house we had just moved from was your typical, two-story, 3-bedroom house. Moving into a small, one-story, compact home – although I didn’t know it at first – ended up being perfect for a heavily pregnant mama. It meant that nap time didn’t involve running up and down the stairs and that I could gate off the living room and doze off of the sofa while my little one ran around, knowing that everything had been perfectly childproof. It was knowing that even when he was on the other side of the house, I could hear exactly what he was doing and getting into without getting up to see.
As the children have grown into their lovely preschool age, being in close quarters all day long has brought us even closer together. Even when everyone is doing something completely different, we are usually all gathered in the same room together. We can share the little things that we’re doing without even thinking about it. One boy will randomly hold up his magnetic draw toy to show what he drew or wrote before clearing the screen, and the other bounds across the room, stopping to hug us all along the way. I can overhear their questions and can bring up a video on the computer or located a book to explain, say – how a marker is made, or why a rainbow is arced.
There’s also the indisputable fact that when you live in a small home, you need to do away with the non-essentials. With very limited storage space, clutter piles up fast, and I’ve found that purging is obligatory. But along with that territory comes a break on cleaning, too. When there are only a couple of rooms to clean, day-to-day chores take up much less time.
I can’t imagine how different it would be if we all had our own separate rooms, or were too far apart to hear our mutterings from a few feet away. I think it would feel somewhat lonely. It’s funny to think about how people back in the day – like Benjamin Franklin for example – who grew up in a one-room house with a dozen or so siblings. But it’s just as unusual now to realize that a majority of families just a generation or two ago lived in very small homes with a lot more family. My mother-in-law, for example, grew up with a half dozen siblings in a house less than 1000 square feet. That’s the size of some guest bedrooms in today’s houses!
I’m not saying that there aren’t days when I longingly browse online at all the lovely craft studios that some people have in their homes, or big spacious kitchens, or root cellars or wrap-around porches. I design bedrooms for my children in my head for fun when waiting in lines. I envision walk-in closets and pantries and reading nooks. I suppose that kind of want is a part of living in American culture (and being on pinterest, ahem). But for all my dreaming, I think I would miss living in a small home. I would miss the closeness, the coziness and the connection that it forces us all to share. Here, everything is used, everything is loved, everything is full of memories, and everyone is close by. I love being so close to my family all day long.
I am so grateful for what I have.