Small Moment

The kids have this writing curriculum at their school in which every year begins with “small moments”.

As a writer I get this: the moment begets the scene, which begets the idea, which begets the plot and so on.

(I love this about their school.)

If the blog died a quiet death in 2017 it wasn’t for lack of small moments.  It was because those moments weren’t mine.

The year belonged to other people.  Other people’s battles.  Other people’s pain.  Other people’s triumphs.  The false starts and the great, big, smiling, deep, breaths.  I was a bystander, and a support system.  I grieved, and feared, and processed.  But it wasn’t mine to share.  I take my responsibility on social media very seriously.  I really try to limit this space to my own life.

The year, quite frankly, didn’t belong to me.

In the meantime, my children continued to grow into ever-more funny and idiosyncratic little humans, and a few months ago we sat at dinner, talking about birthdays and Halloween, and my husband quipped about how dentists secretly love Halloween because it’s payday, and suddenly Littleman was like, “Wait, why do you PAY doctors and dentists?  To be healthy and live a long life?  That’s like, what everyone wants for everyone else!  Why does THAT cost money?”

To which I replied, “It’s funny you should say this, Littleman, because the people in charge of your future at the highest levels of government — allegedly the smartest and best-qualified people in the country — are trying to figure this out as we speak.”

What followed was one of those beautiful, blossoming conversations that covered some (slightly sanitized) politics, our years living under socialized medical care in London…and Babygirl randomly breaking the mood by shouting “Don’t forget Larry!” which makes no sense whatsoever but makes everyone laugh.

Small moments.

Then, all of a sudden, this very large, very Big Moment happened for our family.  It happened so fast!  It all happened in those eight weeks or so between that Halloween-time evening and 9 p.m. on December 31.  It was the thing we’d been saving for, hoping for, looking for.  It was the event that changed 2017 forever: from a year that didn’t belong to me, at all, into a year that belonged to me — to us — in a major way.

Moving is seismic.  Moving for the first time in about 9 years — moving from the only home your children have ever known, moving into double the square footage — takes patience and empathy and getting used to.  So in many ways, the best thing that happened to us in 2017 was also one of the most stressful.  The house we now live in had been unoccupied for many months, and took days and days and days to warm up to its new inhabitants.  For some reason, Babygirl kept falling out of bed in the new house, sometimes 3 or 4 times a night.  For some reason, we didn’t get any hot water in the bathrooms for the first several weeks.  For some reason, no one ever seemed to pick up the trash, which was accumulating at an alarming rate, what with the unpacking and the dust and all.  For some reason, this all happened right smack in the middle of the holiday season, which meant we not only moved our lives, but also installed Christmas decorations and bought gifts and got dressed up far more than usual.  School schedules were either modified or — more frustratingly — the kids seemed to be constantly on break, which meant we were moving around them.  There was too much bickering.  There was then too much screen time.

But we made it.  We made it through and we made it our own.  On December 26th we took down the tree.  By December 30th we had finished putting away the all extra trappings and stepped back to see what our house actually looks like.  (We like it.)

On December 31, for the first time in their lives, we let the kids stay up until 9 p.m. (!) to watch the ball drop in Times Square.  They are used to early bedtimes, and dozed on our bed watching Night at the Museum and waiting while my husband and I ate dinner.  At 8:55 I turned on Dick Clark’s (aka Ryan Seacrest’s) New Years Rockin’ Eve.  At approximately 9:04 we realized that the whole damn program is tape-delayed and we’d missed it.  Missed the whole thing.  So at 9:15, after a mad, fruitless scramble to find footage on YouTube, we sat there, in the dark, holding champagne flutes (me and the husband) and waving finger lights (LittleMan and Babygirl), while I counted down from 10 really loudly and over-enthusiastically.  We hugged and kissed through the kids’ disappointment, and then they climbed the stairs to bed.

It was, perhaps, a fitting way to ring out 2017.  Not at all according to plan, with a little bit of champagne, a little bit of stress and missed expectations, and a well-intentioned scramble to make it all okay.  But also: New Year.  New home.  New hope.  New small moment.  Bring it, 2018.

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