On Expectations and Sophie’s Rocks

We’ve had no showings since re-listing our house. I’m sensing my optimism dissolve as I find myself spending less time online, looking at houses, and more time walking around, taking stock of the space we already have—there’s not much of it.

Sophie arrived three weeks early. We were unprepared. Her cradle was delivered while she was being delivered. My bag wasn’t packed. I hadn’t finished ironing her onesies. (Yes, I was clueless. I thought ironing onesies was something people did.) My family threw me a lovely baby shower hours before my water broke—presents and gift cards and tissue paper littered my living room floor. Our kitchen wasn’t clean. My to-do list wasn’t complete. Our homecoming was sweet, but not what I had envisioned—not what I had wanted. I know my unbalanced hormones made it seem worse than what it was. But I also know me. And how much my environment affects me. And I wish it had been different.

So this time, I’m nesting early. And today, 10 weeks three days into my pregnancy, I’ve begun planning. I’ve decided I can’t expect to move. Instead, I think the safest thing to do is expect to be here. I have this dream that my to-do list will be complete. That when we leave for the hospital, no matter the date, the house will be spotless. Every shelf will look like a spread from Real Simple. I’ll wear my label maker out. A month’s worth of homemade casseroles will be in the freezer. Fresh flowers will be in every room. Cribs will be set up. Swings will be set out. How-to-raise-newborn-twins-and-a-toddler books will be on every end table. And Tucker will miraculously stop shedding.

I know. I must lower my expectations. A wee bit.

So I’m taking baby steps. And I believe the first step to a more organized home—especially a small home—is less stuff. However, that’s already proving difficult. We’ve been amazed with friends’ and friends of friends’ and friends of friends of friends’ generosity. Seven books on twin pregnancies and raising twins were lent to me and are on my bedside table. Two beautiful white cribs, with mattresses and bedding, are in our basement. I’ve been promised exersaucers and swings, and as I type this I’m wearing a girlfriend’s maternity shirt on loan. We’re already accumulating stuff. Necessary stuff, yes, but stuff nonetheless. And we still have Christmas coming up—with a toddler—who likes toys.


So, getting rid of stuff we don’t need or use or want or like is imperative, especially as we accumulate more. But then there’s Sophie’s stuff. Already, at 20 months, she’s collecting her own things. Aside from some U.S. Savings bonds and two nickels she got from Harold down the street on Halloween, she has no money. So she’s not buying stuff. But still, she finds stuff. Like the rocks, pictured above. Or the acorn tops and bottoms sitting on the end table next to me. Or the plastic key chain a store clerk gave to her in an attempt to calm one of her many store tantrums. Or the things she finds under our couch that I never even knew we had.

I don’t consider this house my house or Andy’s house or our house, in terms of the two of us. Rather it’s our family’s house, Sophie included. I know I can’t keep—and she can’t keep—every rock she finds or acorn she picks up or useless plastic item someone gives her. Just like I have to stop keeping every piece of paper she scribbles on. But still, she’s a person. Just a short one and young one and not a very eloquent one—yet. So part of me thinks, Who am I to get rid of this rock she, three days ago, treasured? It’s her rock. She found it. And, three days ago, she loved it.

So, I compromise. I cut up some of her paintings and make cards out of them when sending notes to people. I let her keep one rock, on her bookcase, and then we make an event of putting the other rocks back outside. Tucker often helps. He likes eating the acorns when no one’s watching.

And so, together, we continue to accumulate, get rid of, label and make room. I know, from past experience, that water can break at any time. Bed rest can happen. Babies can come early. They can come late. And in the meantime toys still need to and will be strewn across the floor. Dinner parties will result in a sink full of dirty dishes. Sometimes a TV will remain dusty for days. And Sophie will surely find more rocks. I can’t expect a perfect homecoming just like I can’t expect to be in a bigger house. But then again, I can’t believe I just typed that. Because, in the big scheme of things, what’s more perfect than bringing home a new baby—or two new babies? Not much. Well, except if you add the fresh flowers and frozen casseroles and checked-off to-do list and the dog who suddenly stops shedding and and and …

“When you aim for perfection, you discover it’s a moving target.” —George Fisher