A New Home Out Of The Old

SheKnows is proud to offer The Parent Trap column, by mother and writer Lain Chroust Ehmann.
Lain Chroust Ehmann

After our son was born, my husband and I decided our little house simply wasn't big enough. We loved our location, so we consulted with an architect. For a princely sum, she developed a new floor plan -- lovely, but not exactly what I'd envisioned.

I would have preferred to tear the whole thing down and start from scratch. Unfortunately, in order to minimize hassle when dealing with the town for permitting, we had to maintain part of our original home to keep our project a "remodel" instead of "new construction." As a result, the architect designed 2000 square feet of new construction tacked on to a portion of the old. Instead of a 21st century, thoroughly modern bed and bath suite, we've got one designed in the 1950s. Functional, yet not as sleek and shiny as I'd imagined.

So many situations in life are like this house story. Though we long for an opportunity to leave the past behind, to start over fresh and clean, somehow -- through town ordinances or personality quirks or laws of nature -- our history has a way of staying with us.

Our friends and acquaintances have this horrid thing called "memory" that tends to bring our past into our present, despite our best efforts otherwise. Even our children with their blessedly short powers of recollection have a way of reminding us what we said and did last week, last month, last year -- usually at the most inopportune times. We may feel we've come a million miles from where we began, we may long to jettison our history that gets heavier and harder to tote with each passing year. Unfortunately, the trail map is there, laid out like the glowing path of breadcrumbs or a snail's slimy trail, glistening behind us in perpetuity.

As a result, "starting over" is typically a process of moving on instead of erasing and beginning again. Some of us try to escape our past by changing jobs, moving cities, redecorating the house, remarrying. But somehow it never quite works.

There is one exception, though -- the new year. No matter how lousy the previous twelve months were, no matter how many deadlines I missed, mistakes I made, pounds I gained, January never fails to bring a feeling of renewal. The year ahead lies snowy white, unmarred, just like the pages of my new datebook, waiting for me to inscribe the next chapter.

Anything is possible in January. Who knows what might happen over the next 365 days? I could win the lottery. Write a book. Fit into my pre-mommy jeans. Meet exciting new friends. Catch up with long-lost old ones. Twelve months is a long time, long enough for the birth of a child, the end of an era, the start of something wonderful.

And this January is the mother of all new beginnings -- Two Zero Zero Zero. Just look at all that empty space, waiting for us to fill it.

So even if you aren't in the habit of making New Year's Resolutions, don't miss the chance this year. They don't have to be boring old resolutions like "Lose weight," "Quit smoking," "Exercise more." This year is your opportunity to do something unique, grand, meaningful -- something that just might change your life, if even in the smallest of ways.

Decide to meet your neighbors, to pick up a piece of litter every day, to say "Hello" to each person you pass on the street. Declare your intent to do all your shopping here in town, to attend a town meeting, to let the other person go first. Resolve to learn something you've always wanted to learn, whether it's how to surf the Internet, or how to surf the ocean. Anything's fair game.

As for me, I'm going to learn to play the accordion. It's something I've dreamt about, but it just sounds so wacky. Somehow, though, 2000 seems like the perfect year to do something a little crazy. If it turns out I don't like it, or I'm awful at it, so what? I'll try something new. After all, in January, we've got all the time in the world.PregnancyAndBaby.com

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