When I left my life in Southern California behind to move in with Husband (who was not yet Husband), we shared a tiny bedroom in a tiny house-type thing on the property of a Hindu temple. It was a small, but beautiful existence. The room was already packed with years worth of Husband’s possessions: mainly art pieces, musical instruments, and mountains of junk that had been fished out of Goodwill bins and dollar stores. Add my cargo to the mix, and there was only enough space to walk a trail from the bed to the door. We needed a bigger place.
So, we moved to a bigger bedroom in a bigger house, with a bigger closet. We marveled over how much space we had. “Hey, we can even use this old van bench as a couch! Great!“ Soon, we got married, and acquired even more stuff. After a while, it began to feel a little cramped. We needed a bigger place.
So, we moved into a studio apartment. It was perfect; right on a wildlife sanctuary. There was a separate space for the bed, and a nice kitchen that even had a dishwasher. Husband and I had our own closets (He gave me the big one. Love you, baby). We had our own shower, never had to worry about anyone sneaking our food or using our dishes and leaving them to rot in the sink. We were even able to get a cat of our own. It was wonderful. Pure bliss. Then, I got pregnant.
“Hmmm…how are we going to make this work in a studio apartment?” We asked ourselves. Well, we didn’t want the stress of a move while I was expecting, plus we were trying to save up as much money as we could…so we decided to make it work. We embarked on The Big Purge, tossing almost everything we owned to make room for the changing table, the rocking chair, the co-sleeper, the diaper genie, and piles and piles of clothes, blankets, burp cloths, toys…you get the idea. It wasn’t easy throwing away so many mementos of our newlywed days, our only time together as a family of two. It wasn’t easy throwing away pieces of our youth. But, we did it. We had to. Eventually, we grew accustomed to it, and it got easier to say goodbye to the things we loved to make room for the thing we loved even more.
The purging process never stopped, by the way. Just tonight, we got rid of our desk to make room for a play space for Collin, now that he’s sitting up by himself and trying to crawl. When people find out how we live, I’m often met with a blank stare of disbelief. “I don’t know how you do it.” Is often uttered. Frankly, I don’t either, sometimes. It depends on when you ask me. On a good day, it’s cozy and fits our attachment parenting style, anyway; for example, we would co-sleep with our baby even if we had all the space in the world for a crib. However, on a bad day, I feel claustrophobic and worried we’re about to burst from the seams of this apartment; Like, someone will show up at our door, and I’ll open it, only it won’t be me standing there, it will be an avalanche of baby gear burying my visitor alive. It can be hard to never get away from the baby, especially at night when he’s asleep, and you’re tip-toeing around so as not to wake him up, and it’s your only chance to reorganize or clean something.
Let me tell you something about organization: it is KEY to living in a small space and staying sane. And just when you think you have everything perfect, you need to reorganize all over again because the baby just grew out of a bunch of clothes, or a bag of toys showed up and you have no idea where to put them. I am in a constant state of sorting: does this fit the baby? Does he really play with that? Will that ever be used? Whatever doesn’t get put to use immediately goes- either in the closet (if there’s space) or to Goodwill. There is just no room in here for stuff that isn’t being used.
I am an optimist, and I like to look at our time here as a learning experience. We humans (Especially we Americans) love to cling to stuff we don’t really need or use. I’ve had the privilege of breaking myself of that habit. How many people get to say that?