Lived In by Noreen Heffernan


The house next door to me was a 2 bedroom rental that went through families like the plague. A builder tore it down and in its place, a million dollar house was built that a professional couple bought. (no kids). Now picture my house. It is on the small side, pretty cluttered and full of kids and a pregnant woman. I mean, the ideal, right?! I try to keep it clean but my daughter has the croup. So, when an illness arrives, cleanliness is thrown to the wolves for a feeding. And they feed on loose crumbs on the floor from dinner and scattered eggs that remain from breakfast. CHOMP! Let’s just say we all could have been well-fed during the blizzard (that wasn’t) based on the remnants of our floor.

We weren’t sporting our best form, to say the least. There were dishes in the sink piled high; toys and games on our kitchen table, the whole nine yards. I mean, I wasn’t expecting company. That was quite obvious.

My new neighbor stopped by at 8 pm on Sunday night, first introductions. Now picture me. I have a sick kid and I’m 8 months pregnant on a Sunday night. It is bath time.

Mortified.

It felt like our former selves walked in the door for a nice neighborly chat. The "us" of 2008 was chatting with the "us" of 2015. They were dressed nicely on a Sunday night. I had to throw on a maternity sweatshirt that was folded nicely behind my bedroom curtain (where all my maternity clothes reside). What? You can’t see it. She had nicely blow-dried hair and he had a clean shaven face. I had a bun in my hair and my husband hadn’t shaved over the weekend. They had clean buttoned up dress coats and as they were talking a naked 3 year old ran by singing, “here comes my butt,” and my five year old is coughing loudly from our TV room. The poor guy almost tripped over our snow boots and rain boots which are lined messily in our dining room under our dining room chair. (Where I pretend you can’t see them).

This is how we know how different it is to be parents. This is where you can clearly see the line between having kids and not having kids. It would be nice if I could say this, “BUT we were happy.” But we weren’t. We had a very sick kid that we were trying to help breathe with steam showers and steroids and a 3 year old that needed to be entertained. I’m starting to walk like a duck and it is JANUARY!!! This wasn’t our defining moment.

I said to my new neighbors, “please excuse the look of our house, it isn’t normally THIS bad.”

And she said this, “Are you kidding, this is what we hope for. A house full of kids that is lived in. We are full of boxes in our big house that we want to grow into.”

And there it was.

Not only did she get me off the hook, but she made me realize how proud I was to be hugely pregnant with a naked kid running around the house.

Maybe they left the house and shook their heads as they walked home saying to each other, “NEVER!” Or maybe they walked back home to their big echoed house thinking, “We wish.” Whatever they thought, I guess doesn’t matter. What matters is that we might be cluttered, we might be messy, we might not have the big house with tons of space, but we do have is so much more. We have a house that is lived in. And if our 2008 selves saw our 2015 family in that exact instant, I know we would look at each other, smile and say, “We’ll take it.”

~Noreen Heffernan,Writer, MA in Public and Corporate Communications, Certified in PR Writer, Growing Ladies

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