“That was buuuuun!” Max squeals, as we ease our car down the windy driveway that connects my mom’s house to the rest of the world. At three years old, the letter “F” is still a “B”, but his pronunciation is always punctuated by copious amounts of enthusiasm.
We are going home. We are home. We’re not home. We’ve spent five days in San Diego at my mom’s house, but it is not the house I grew up in. It isn’t the house that Max typically wakes up in, but all of his favorite people live there. Grandparents, eager to cuddle and connect. Toys, begging to be nudged from their slumber and thrust into dangerous dives from the sofa. Max runs at full speed into Baubee and Zaydee’s living room, throwing his lanky body into the center of the carpet and trying to swim through the plastic parts and pieces of his new “fwends”. Baubee has goldfish crackers, and she makes “scwamblie eggs”. We visit with Nana Nana and Aunt Katie, walking through the cement halls of the Children’s Museum, pretending that we’re locals. My mom has put every piece of our puzzle in place, making sure that cabinets are locked and diapers sit neatly on the shelf. She welcomes us as if it’s been years since she’s touched Max’s rosy cheeks, and yet it has only been weeks. She loves us that much. We fall easily into the routine that history brings, and yet…
San Diego has been covered in a fine dusting of minutes and hours and change. It looks different. It feels different. Having a child and a husband and a job and a life in San Francisco means that the foundation of this home has shifted. When you grow and you fly, you bring your home with you, tucked away into the part of your stomach that churns with the familiarity of change. Children of divorce are fantastic at packing the strong beams of their childhood into tiny, neat suitcases. Suitcases come with you. Until you breed and marry, creating a new home with your littles and your love. That home doesn’t change. That home becomes only yours, and it grows to fit the shape of your family like the worn rocking chair that embraces a new mama and her baby.
The garage door opens, unveiling the empty space that has been waiting patiently for us to return. “My home!” Max yells, as he settles into the shiny white leather of our very 70’s sofa. “It still here!” he sighs, remembering, as only a three year old with very little understanding of time and space can. “Yes, baby.” I whisper, as I pull him into the soft space between my ear and my collarbone. “Our home will always be here, waiting for us. Mommy, Daddy and Max. This is our home”. And amongst the mess of wooden train tracks littering the carpet and the sippy cups overturned in the sink, I exhale.