Why We Are (Likely) Moving to the Suburbs


I haven’t been writing much about our family lately, because it feels like the world’s problems are so big and we are so small. Which is all true.

I don’t know how to rectify that. I’m just going to be honest with you here, because that’s what I know how to do. I’ve been working on some other, more political stuff to be hopefully published elsewhere. I’ll keep you posted on that.

Cedar is gone now, out in New York for almost two and a half weeks playing music and loving life, and the kids and I are staying out at my parent’s house. I have a new/old dream, and that’s to move to the woods.

And it looks like we’re going for it.

Last week, right before Cedar left, I was in a lonely place. I caught E.’s pneumonia and then for the past few months, I just haven’t been able to kick it. It’s been so hardcore that I broke a rib from coughing. And then, turns out, when you have two children and your husband’s working out of town, it doesn’t matter what is broken. No matter what, I’m on the hook for parenting, and there’s very little time for resting.

I wasn’t looking for it. The house found us. There’s a yiddish word for it—beshert. I was walking with my mother on a path in the nearby woods. I felt sick and utterly exhausted; I had spent much of the walk sobbing, my nose was running profusely. We talked about what I could do to make things a little easier while E. needs so much. And then there it was: a beautifully remodeled rambler (great for E.’s mobility challenges), close to my parents house. The schools are good out there—really good, especially for a child with exceptional needs. It sits underneath towering trees, just a short walk to the beach.

If you would have asked me five or ten years ago about this whole plan, I would have smiled politely and said that it’s not for me. If I’m being honest with you, I thought that the suburbs were, in short, a wasteland of culture. At the very least, not for us.

And, also, if you would have asked me, five or ten years ago, if I thought that any number of beautiful and terrifying things would have happened to our family, the things that have ended up both defining us and forcing us to grow in those ways that no one really wants to grow—to love and accept what is, even though it’s scary, I also would not have believed you.

Having a child who doesn’t eat much of anything through her mouth? I didn’t even know that was an option. Who lives attached to a tube, whose prognosis is unknown, whose medical appointments are too many to count? Not possible. Having a husband who is on the road for weeks at a time? Nope, that wasn’t our plan.

So here we are, in this wild unfolding of surprises. I want to stay flexible and open to what presents itself. To make it as good as we can. Because there’s a whole lot of good, when I remember to look for it. So many people have helped us through this time.

And then sometimes it’s terribly frightening, and that’s when I want to be near my parents and a whole bunch of trees.

A few nights ago, I kept having to stop when I was reading to A. before bed and wince and hack. He looked at me and said, softly, “You are welcome to cough in my bed anytime.” Then he put his hand on my hand.

That kind of moment reminds me about why I became a parent in the first place. No, not to have an interminable respiratory infection and very little time for self-care. Just, the empathy. Witnessing these tiny humans becoming who they are. And then becoming who I am, all over again.

And E. is doing well. Not too much throwing up, hardly at all. She is continuing this lovely burst of speech. Yesterday, she pointed emphatically to a part of the library book we were reading and said, “purple.” The doctors told us to expect very little, and look at our girl, honoring Prince at such a young age.


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