By Kelly Fondow
Family life is a funny thing. As I was cleaning up after dinner last night I was thinking about all of our patterns. Through the years RoiAnn and I have fallen into dozens of them. Our daily life runs amazingly smoothly â€“ thanks in large part to these routines that we have established. I cook and grocery shop, Roi does the laundry and keeps an eye on Evaâ€™s homework and classes and schedules. We each have our responsibilities, mostly unspoken, but always understood.
If I stretch this thought line a bit, it quite easily extends beyond roles and responsibilities to the space we occupy and how we actually move within our house. We, like most families, have a morning routine. RoiAnn wakes up first and gets into the shower. Eventually Eva rouses and pads into the bathroom to join her. Eva has a to-do list taped onto the inside of the bathroom linen closet: Brush Teeth, Wash Face, Potty, Get Dressed. She wrote the list herself, complete with little sketches of each activity. She sets in on her list slowly and steadily. Her pace matching Roiâ€™s. I lie in bed and listen to their early morning chatter. Eventually, when I hear the shower turn off, I squeeze past Roi and Eva and climb into the shower for my turn. Typically, Iâ€™m out of the shower, dried, dressed and heading downstairs while the two of them are still wrapped in their towels. How exactly it can take them as long as it does to wake, wash and dress each day will forever be a mystery to me. Strangely though, itâ€™s a charming mystery â€“ one of the many ways our little family fits together snugly.
We actually have two full bathrooms in our house â€“ the one on the first floor is only used when Grace is home from college. It is a beautiful bathroom. Much more lovely and spacious than the one that we all use upstairs. Yet somehow our routine evolved into its present state and we find ourselves squeezing three people into a 3-foot-by-4 foot room on a daily basis.
I make my living helping people buy and sell houses. What Iâ€™ve learned is that each family, whether it is made up of two people or ten, has its own unique way of using space. I have worked with very large families who really, upon reflection, only require very small spaces and Iâ€™ve worked with couples who have fit best in big sprawling beasts of homes.
The truth is, Roi and Eva and I, inevitably, are always in the same room. We have this big old house, but weâ€™re always on top of each other. Eva sleeps in her own room, but other than that, we really might as well have a one room house.
My parents, and quite possibly many others, would be puzzled by all of this togetherness. I cannot, however hard I might try, conjure an image of my mom walking into the bathroom to begin brushing her teeth while my dad is showering. Is it because we are all girls? Is it generational? Is it a gay thing?
Or is it just a Roi â€“ Eva - Kelly phenomenon? Whatever the underlying causes, we spend as much time together all in the same space as our lives allow.
Having lived through the teenage years with one daughter thus far, experience suggests that our morning routine will evolve. Our days of squeezing three people into a bathroom are numbered. In a few short years Eva will enter into what I fondly refer to as the â€śvampireâ€ť stage â€“ staying up late, sleeping late and walking through those middle hours of the day in a glassy-eyed state. She will, no doubt, spend as much time away from us as she can manage.
There are moments when all of this togetherness feels more like a burden than a gift. On these occasions I resist the urge to run from whatever small space the three of us are packed into. I imagine instead a time in the not-so-distant future when our teenage Eva is out more often than she is in.
Sometimes that picture makes me smile with my imagined freedom. Other times it makes me pull Eva even closer to Roi and I â€“ creating an even smaller space for the three of us to exist within. In those moments I realize that I will happily go on living a one-room life with my lovely family for as long as I am allowed to do so.