For the last 3 years we’ve lived at 70 Checketts Ave in Halswell. It’s a modest little house which has the advantage of being painted a cheerful yellow with red window sills when we were house hunting in a drab cold August three years ago. It also has many disadvantages. Windows don’t keep the outside air OUT (read that as cold). The kitchen is small and there’s no dining room, so we eat tightly wedged around the table in the kitchen (read that as no dinner parties). The views from the windows show brown fence with gray neighbor’s roof on one side, and brown fence with brown neighbor’s roof on the other side. Here’s a photo tour of the place.
Not bad. The house is “tidy,” as they say (that doesn’t refer to my housekeeping rigor, and there are plenty of houses for rent which are NOT tidy).
But we decided that it could be improved upon, so a week ago we moved, or “shifted” as they say here. I always think a “shift” sells it short, sounding more minor than a “move,” but never mind.
And since I’m sure no one is interested in a whingey tirade about hours spent washing smudgy marks off creamy yellow walls or wiping endless crumbs from drawers, I have nothing else to say about “shifting.” Except that it’s accomplished. Good riddance.
We like the new place quite a bit, though we’re still only renting.
And within the first week of living here, I happened upon a revelation: Happiness in life is a whole lot about fulfilled expectations.
Of course, like most of my lessons, I learned this one the hard way. Somehow in my tricky subconscious mind I had believed that if I gave Milo a bigger more interesting house and yard, he’d take himself off and enjoy them, INDEPENDENTLY of my input = Molly would have more quiet time to do her own things = happier Molly.
All you sage older mothers must be busting a gut right about now. Of course that didn’t work. The first Tuesday (non-work day) we were in the new house was rainy, and after spending a discombobulated morning indoors with a dozen preschoolers and mums at Playcentre, I was desperately looking forward to a little quiet time to do some unpacking tasks with the company of my own rambling thoughts. Milo doesn’t nap anymore, but his ornery behavior and heavy eyes gave me high hopes that he’d succumb to the drowsy rainy weather and take his siesta. Or go play with his legos quietly. Or draw. Or do anything that was out of my hair.
Not to be. He dogged my every move, whining, wanting to help but then not following instructions, and generally being a normal 4 year old….except that since I had Expected him to be transformed, I was affronted all over again at his habits. Some people have children that take themselves off and get absorbed into intricate imaginary worlds for hours on end, but not me.
On my way to work the next morning grizzling with a grouchy hangover from a lousy day yesterday, I had the revelation. Happiness is all about fulfilled expectations. The principle works with houses, with relationships, with salaries. I recalled an old Philip Baley song that goes:
We say the grass
Is always greener
The sky’s forever blue
We all know there’s
There for us to do
We feel we get over
We believe we have it made
All problems will be solved
If we can only find a way
To the other side
You can spend your whole life wanting more. Managing one’s own expectations isn’t easy, but it’s probably a good discipline. Ask me in a year how it’s going.
Right, philosophical ramble over for the day. Here’s a tour of the new house: