Home sweet home

Dear Readers,

It’s been some time since I’ve popped in, but I have some lovely news to share: we bought a home and are expecting our second Mini Potato, who’s due this coming festive December.

Now that we’ve settled into our new home, life feels vastly different from what we’ve known beforehand. Sometimes, everything still feels surreal. It’s a big world of a difference transitioning from renting a high-rise apartment unit, to owning a house where we have our own entrance, appliances, and backyard. How freeing it is to not have to share laundry appliances or to tip-toe around others in shared entrances or elevators. I was wrought with anxiety at the height of the pandemic; the extra mental gymnastics involved when sharing common spaces with others was taxing. There was also very little privacy.

It feels ever so sweet to be in a home — our home. Yet I’ll always be grateful for having lived in a high rise apartment, especially as a family with a toddler. There were undoubtedly more challenges in daily life, but that’s why the experience was ever more rewarding: we’d experienced adversity and growth before tasting sweet victory. Not only has the experience brought us closer together as a family and strengthened us, but it has also taught Keaton to be appreciative of all the things he already did have: a roof, food, safety, a family, and all the basics of life that aren’t always granted.

Memories of the first week we settled into our old apartment

Emotionally, I still miss our old apartment. I remember us settling there as a family over a year ago, when we just moved to Ottawa. It was quite heartwarming; after all, I was back in my hometown after years away, and I was reunited with my parents, whom I missed dearly and worried about immensely during the pandemic. I also recall being so excited to decorate our little space and make it homey and inviting. But the sweetest memory and journey of all, was witnessing Keaton’s growth and integration into his new city.

In over one year, he’s grown a whole lot — from babyhood to toddlerhood. I loved watching his bond with his Kong-Ma grow into unwavering love and friendship. Moreover, although all the park time for us parents was depressing — it was a pandemic and we didn’t have a car, so there wasn’t anywhere we could really go, except for the same old parks — I really appreciated watching our son’s growth there nevertheless, especially how he learned to relate to his immediate environment and social surroundings. For a little dude who’s never attended daycare or group settings, I’m very proud of him for his kindness and deep capacity for compassion.

I’m equally proud of my husband and I for overcoming numerous obstacles. From becoming first-time parents in the midst of a pandemic, to losing family members and lacking support, to facing financial struggles and the uncertainty of work, to living in a small apartment with no balcony or fresh air, to having no car for even the most practical of purposes, to dealing with months of constant dynamite construction right outside our window, to experiencing floods inside our bedroom, to having a high-energy toddler that never gave us a moment of respite, to handling inconsiderate folks on a daily basis. Every detail added up. The constant crippling stress and anxiety weighed heavily on our hearts and lives. Within me lived a constant turbulence of both rage and sadness. 

The process of searching for a home while my husband worked, of communicating with our mortgage lender and real estate agent, of preparing documents, of corresponding with our lawyer, and of making all financial decisions — while pregnant and with a toddler — was mentally and physically debilitating on top of everything. But we made it. We did our parts, held on to each other, trekked forward, and utilized any support we could get — I deeply appreciate my parents for all their help in take caring of our little one during challenging moments — and here we are, with a house of our own and even a car, too. 

Yet, I can’t say that I feel overwhelming joy and happiness being in our new home. It feels more like a deep relief, and more than anything, I feel immense gratitude mixed with a lot of sadness. I’m happy, yes, but now that we’ve made it, I feel rather exhausted — as if I can finally fall down on the floor and let myself slither into a deep sleep of a thousand years. As I look back, I can’t believe how we survived everything in the past few years, when it was much easier and more tempting to break. But human beings are resilient. We’re resilient. Even our son is resilient.

Snack time featuring banana bread with ‘mammay’
Having fun playing with his toys in his own room

Kids are adaptable and they’re able to appreciate the little things in life, whereas us adults are often stuck in our somersaulting patterns of thoughts that we create for ourselves. What I do see now, is how much happier Keaton is in his new home. There’s no baggage like the ones we adults carry. He has his own room, a backyard to play in — for me, it’s a dream come true, especially during summer days when I have no energy to take him to the park — and many rooms and nooks and crannies to explore. He’s even getting more exercise with all the stairs in the home. (I’m breaking my hip, on the other hand.)

It’s still always so sweet and comical to drive by our old apartment. Keaton would often say, “No dis! No dis!” Now that he has his own room and knows of a better life, he doesn’t want to return. I don’t blame him. I understand him completely. But I’d still tell him to say thank you and to wave bye bye as we’re passing; and he does just that, because he understands. My husband and I would often joke that our son has lived through all the craziness of life, whereas our daughter will be born into princesshood. We laugh about it, but for us, it’s important to instill character and integrity in our kids, and to teach them to appreciate all the little things.

I’m fond of our new and current home. It’s a perfect humble size for our little growing family. I love that now, Keaton has ample of space to run in and a backyard where he can play with his trucks and toys or simply watch birds and squirrels. I remember feeling emotional the first morning I sat outside with a coffee. Just birds chirping and a light breeze sweeping my cheeks. It was a stark contrast to our apartment days wrought with blasting and construction. This was freedom to me: peace and quiet. They were basic human needs and soul nourishing food that not everyone is privileged to have in this world. And I hold this knowledge closely to heart.

Now that we’re in our new home, I also feel the motivation to take better care of our space. I’ve been loving my plants; they add so much colour and life to our home. Perhaps it’s my OCD or my mama nesting urges, but I also feel deeply that cleaning and organizing our space frequently helps me de-stress and relax. Home is both a family space and a spiritual realm for me. I must take care of it, nourish it, and love it, just like I would my own.