The last time our family moved, it was with a 4-month old baby in tow, and much more suddenly than we’d have intended or preferred. Minion and I had been living in a rental we initially shared together to cut expenses and get more bang for our buck — because an 1800 sqft. single family home with an attached garage and a nice big yard on a corner lot for two people and a myriad of pets is so much nicer than cramming into a tiny walkup apartment. After we’d been there for 4 years — where our relationship had over time progressed from us being friends, to companions, to lovers, to partners, to fiancées, to spouses, and then co-parents — we learned the owner planned to sell the place, offering us first right of refusal.
It wouldn’t have been our first choice for our introductory experience as first-time home buyers, mostly because the neighborhood included drug dealers across the street, but as an opportunity of convenience, we had to give it consideration. Problem was, as a contractor, I had no maternity leave, a mountain of medical debt, and expenses that had to be paid despite being several weeks out of work. We had been living off my credit, and it was maxed out.
On paper, we were not good mortgage candidates. Once I was back at work (only three weeks after Firebird was born), I told the owner we would need at least another six month lease to pay my balances down enough to restore my credit rating to the level it had been at before my delivery, in order to look good enough to a bank to take on the house note. He agreed, but dragged his feet about getting the new lease contract drawn up, while time kept right on running out.
When I finally did reach him, after several weeks of trying to track him down — almost as if he’d been dodging my calls — he confessed he couldn’t sell to us after all. He’d had the place appraised for a value of $60K less than he’d paid for it, and in order to recoup his losses, he’d have to get into the home to do some major rehab. Which meant we couldn’t be in it.
By the time he finally confessed this news, we had 21 days left in our contract. That’s 21 days to get out of the home we’d become a family in over 4 years. 21 days to find another place that would be open as soon as we would need to get into it, accept our menagerie of pets (2 100# dogs and 2 cats), my high balances, Minion’s total lack of any credit, apply, be approved, sign a lease, get ourselves packed, and move, while both of us were working full time, and juggling a 4-month old baby. It was more than we could handle alone.
I’ve moved 45 times in 45 years — that I can remember. Some as a part of a bigger family. Some in the foster care system. Some completely by myself. Some by engaging the assistance of 3 of my 5 brothers and my Dad. This last move — #45, in which one of us was always either working, or on baby duty — was going to take all hands on deck.
At the time, we didn’t even know where we going to live, but we knew we’d have to be packed and ready as soon as we figured that out. A portable storage unit parked outside our garage, so we could move everything not required for everyday living into it as we were able on the few weekend days we had (and by “we,” I mean him), which was the only time we were both available when one of us could watch the baby while the other was frantically laboring toward getting us situated. I made use of every baby nap when I wasn’t working to either set up appointments to check out available housing options or pack; he made use of every baby nap when he wasn’t working to lug our junk to the pod. Fortunately, at 4 mths, there are a lot of nice long naps.
In those 21 days, my sister-in-law and her sister came over and packed up our parlor while I held the baby and kept them company. Mom and Dad put out an open call asking for assistance via an announcement in the weekly bulletins of their church groups, as well as a couple of affiliated collectives. Multiple friends and family donated packing boxes, and several could find an hour at a time here and there, showing up at our door asking how they could help.
Members of my parents’ church came over and packed our kitchen while I was at work and my husband and the baby slept. (They used the only packing materials they could find — my sparkly Christmas wrapping tissue... we’re occasionally still picking glitter out of our dishes 2 years later! ;-) No one visitor put any single major dents in the total workload, but collectively, they all made a gigantic difference together.
Mom kept a regular rotation of catered homemade food snacks available for anyone who dropped in. Not too many took advantage, but it kept us from having to figure out what to eat throughout that ordeal, which was incredibly helpful. Once we found the place we’re living in now, we applied for it sight unseen because it met the basic conditions for our complex situation (and we’ve been paying through the nose for being in that position ever since).
Several members of a congregation where I’d visited with the baby on multiple occasions pitched in to help load into the pod, or make trips to the new rental with items the pod didn’t have room for. We are fortunate this place has a 2½ car garage, as it’s less than half the house we moved from, and most of our belongings have been stored there since the move. Minion’s dad and brother helped with many of the larger furniture items (and broke a couple in the process, too — collateral damage, though, all things considered!).
After we were ready to crash for our first night at the new place, one of my Dad’s marine buddies came over to the old place to help me clean while Minion worked to get us and the baby settled in. My brother-in-law went over to mow our former lawn once more. (Minion keeps a photograph of him doing it as evidence he can be put to work! ;-)
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Sometimes, when you’re busy raising a child, you need the village just to help you get over the next hurdle to the destination just out of your reach on the horizon. We’re fortunate to have an accommodating village within our grasp.
We’re not terribly happy with the place we’ve been more or less forced into, for multiple reasons, and we’re working towards outgrowing it in an upwardly mobile fashion, with the intent for our next move to be into our own home. It’s been a long road getting from there to here, and the goal seems so close we can almost taste it now. We’re hoping to land on our feet before the year is up, and if everything goes well, maybe, this time, we can manage enough on our own and with just a small enough handful of close-knit participants that we’ll let the village sit the next one out — after all, they’ve worked hard enough for us, they deserve the rest.
LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 14 - Topic: BARN RAISING
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