When I got pregnant, I was living in an apartment in the Kensington section of Brooklyn, a few blocks away from Prospect Park. It was a neighborhood filled with social liberals, where Obama posters lived in many windows, the delicious smell of ganja wafted in the air, and people were my kind of eye-candy. The neighborhood was flanked by subway stations and was getting its share of hipsters with the rise of gentrification, so rents were ridiculous. Other than the steep cost of living (Hollywood stars lived a mere train stop or two away), life was sweet.
Neighbors left swag on the ground floor furnace, and an array of books, costume jewelry, and knick-knacks could be had if you were there at the right time.
In the basement of the building was a treasure hunter’s dream: older pieces of gorgeous furniture that people were throwing out to make room for newer pieces of gorgeous furniture.
My roommate was a kick-ass acquaintance-cum-dear friend who would sit for hours with me, shooting the shit; talking about life and politics and how eerily similar our boyfriends were; listening to awesome tunes (of which she had a ridiculously large and varied selection); and watching TV.
Plus, there were hip restaurants, bars, boutiques, bookstores, coffee shops, etc., a stone’s throw from our pad.
I remember, when I first moved in, I cleaned up like there was no tomorrow. Not that my roommate was especially dirty or messy, mind you, but she’d been living there for a few years, and everything was hers. I needed to feel like the space belonged to me, too. And even though she was really too kind and gave me the master bedroom and one of the closets in the foyer and cleaned up the entire apartment prior to my moving in, I simply couldn’t feel at home until I’d nested. And nesting meant cleaning like I was OCD and had lost my medication.
When I moved to the Philippines, I was a new mom. Riley was only 10 weeks old, and not only was I still figuring out the mothering thing, but I was also getting adjusted to living on the other side of the world from my home, returning to school, and taking up an entirely different course of study from what I’d done previously. It was a lot of adjusting, and I had to do it asap: two weeks after I arrived, I’d start classes. There was no time for nesting.
I’m now enjoying my summer break (it runs from March to June over here), and getting ready for Rob’s arrival (supposedly on April 15th, though he hasn’t yet bought a ticket), and I’m nesting up a storm. This house is technically my parents’, but it’s mine, Rob’s, and Riley’s first home. There is no one to offer tips or ultimatums. No one to suggest unsolicited advice to me or Rob about coupledom and parenting. In short: no one to tell us how to live. And as I was pacing around the house, moving furniture, toys, clothes, picture frames, etc., from one room to another; sweeping, scrubbing, waxing, dusting, adjusting, and wiping; and simultaneously loving the cat and dogs and loathing their lack of obedience training, I couldn’t help but envision how I want the house to look.
There are curtains and bookshelves and corner curios that I want to buy. Sofa cushions and mirrors and pillows that fit perfectly where I imagine they’d be. Light fixtures and paint chips and furniture dents that I would like to fix. An herb and vegetable garden that could provide fresh yumminess all year round. A tasteful collection of family photographs and an arrangements of accolades and awards displayed in picture frames that we don’t yet own. Air-conditioners in every room…
It’s a fantasy that I have, and one that would be closer to reality if I could earn a steady paycheck. But I haven’t even figured out how to earn the money I need to pay off my debt to Brooklyn College – which I have to do asap. And as of now, Rob and I are living off of our parents’ dimes, which is sad and pathetic and ultimately something I hate having to do. The only consolation I have about being a mom who depends on her own mother’s paycheck is that my mom (and dad, and Rob) talked me into doing this. (My original plan had been to stay in New York, work full-time, go to school full-time, and be a mom: it wasn’t a perfect plan, but I felt like I could buy stock in Folger’s and everything would work itself out.) I’m succored by the knowledge that I hadn’t been the one to suggest that I live off of my parents’ dime. I am 100% grateful to them for this opportunity to study and raise my son without having to work – but I just can’t do it. I can’t bleed them out like that. I can’t be a leech. I can’t not stand on my own two feet.
So I’ve been editing and revising essays for some quick cash, and for a couple of months, that was working out well. I wasn’t able to do much besides pay for groceries and for Riley’s supplies, but it made me feel like less of a burden. I’m still up for editing and revising essays (mostly grant proposals and college admissions essays), but the opportunities to do so are few and far between once college/graduate school admission deadlines are over.
Some people have suggested that I try to squeeze a few dollars out of this here blog, but I’m a technophobe, and the idea of putting all of my green eggs into a basket that’s connected to an electrical socket makes me a little queasy.
So I think I’ll take baby steps. I’ve been applying to home-based work and mulling the idea of putting the internet to good use. I’ve been weighing the pros and cons, and ultimately, I’ve come to the conclusion of “Why the hell not?” Because, really, what do I have to lose? A few more hours of sleep?
I’m a mom.
That’s just how I do.