Mommy, everything is different. Nothing is the same.
Last night I fell asleep in my daughter’s bed, her curly haired head nestled into my chest, her arms tightly clasped around me. It’s been a long time since I’ve actually lost consciousness while putting my kids to bed – regardless of how tired I am, I’m usually pretty vigilant about leaving them once they are relaxed and ready to go to sleep on their own.
When I opened my eyes, I did a double take, and in that instant I felt myself in my four-year old’s shoes. During those brief moments that I had been sleeping, I’d forgotten that we’d moved, space and place disappearing, and my brain had jumped back five days to Brooklyn. Yet her room was the new one, not the old, full of her usual toys and furniture but visually different in every way. I sat there for a moment holding my little girl in her sleep, reminding myself that here is home now.
All weekend my daughter threw tantrums when we asked her to take off her shoes on the porch before coming into the house. It took me a day and a half to realize that her insistence on removing them ONLY IN THE LIVING ROOM was because in the old house, our front door opened right into that space. Tears flowed freely and forcefully one night because she missed Nutella sandwiches for lunch and her new school is nut-free. She is in a more advanced class now and feels behind. The bathroom light is not bright enough at night. Where are my friends, Mommy? Where are my friends?
Last night, before the two of us fell asleep together in her tiny twin bed, my little girl sat down with her colored pencils and paper. She worked intensely for almost an hour until she’d drawn several birds in flight.
Mommy, these are birds flying home to Brooklyn to see Alexander. Everything has changed, Mommy. Nothing is the same.
Those words rattled in my quiet mind as I took in the smell of my daughter’s freshly washed hair and watched her sleep peacefully in the suburban moonlight. I’m not sure how long it will take for here and now to feel like home but it will happen, and in the meantime she can take her shoes off in the living room. Nothing is the same but we are inching, however slowly, toward something that will be much better.