Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dear Liam

This is the letter I wrote for Liam's baby book explaining the choice to co-house. It seems like it should be here as well)

Dear Liam,

It seems your parents have gone nuts.

You have been surrounded for the last few weeks with moving boxes, piles taller than you'll ever be, fix-it projects, painting, and massive chaos. You've been forced to sleep in a new room, brush your teeth at a new sink, and spend far less time in your car seat (and far more time at the Home Repair store!) I know it's all very strange to you now but I truly believe that soon it will be well worth it.

See, Daddy and I have decided to co-house with your Grandma ("O-ma").For the last several years your dad and I have been moving further and further toward conventional "success". We've allowed ourselves pride over our material acquisitions, increased education, and honorable employment. We've delighted in our pool and our privacy and our suburban luxury. It's been a wonderful golden decade.

But underneath the suburbanites we've become lingers the more-hippie-than-hip people we've always been. And somewhere along the way we realized that the life we were working so hard chasing wasn't really the life we want. We don't care about job titles or money for the sake of money or even about "looking successful."

But we DO care about being able to walk to a library, having the time to hug and tuck you at night and help you with your homework in the evenings. We do care about teaching you the value of family and about having more time to get our hands dirty building/making/planting things. We wanted to be able to eat from our yard and spend less time burning fuel getting from one big box store to another. We wanted you to grow up on a bus route, in the middle of a neighborhood with no home-owners association, where the trees are taller than the houses, and the museums aren't a half hour away. We wanted to stop focusing so much on finances and careers and doing the "responsible" thing... and worry more about family, and home, and doing the "right" thing.

We realized that we'd overvalued our independence and sacrificed the ability to be the loving, helpful, available, people we want to be.

We realized that we'd worked to hard to acquire things and not enough to create them.

We realized that we were wasting resources that we didn't need to waste.

We realized that life would be richer if we were doing more with and for our family.

We realized that just because our life was the "typical" dream didn't mean it was ours...

We realized, in short, that our life didn't match our values....

And then we decided to do something about it.

By moving in with your Oma we are able to pool our resources and make our values and our life-style more in agreement. By combining two houses we

  • cut down on waste/pollution. (by not air conditioning/heating/watering two houses)
  • free up money that had been wasted on duplicating services so that we can contribute it to making the world a better place (instead of just making our living rooms lighted places!)
  • free up time so we can volunteer more, plant a garden, work on fixing mom's house up, hang out with you/each other/etc, read, think, be
  • are able to save more for your college, etc
  • combine expertise and abilities (we can all do more with help than we could alone)
    increase your connection with your Grandparents
  • get a new adventure and learn

It's a crazy plan, we know. And it's possible it won't work (in which case we just buy a new place). But it's also possible that it WILL work. (And it would be crazier not to give it a chance.)

We want to model putting your habits where your values are. We want you, also, to see us try even if it means failing. We are in a great place right now. We aren't running home because we are broke or in any trouble. And we aren't giving up our lives to go take care of elderly parents. Nobody needs bailing out... we are all just daring to dream of a life a little brighter, better, and more sustainable.

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