I live in a small house – 1,174 square feet to be exact … with three other people. My husband and I bought this house when I was three weeks away from giving birth to our first daughter. I was very, very pregnant and recently unemployed. We needed a house we could afford on one income. And like a lot of new parents, we needed it right away. In reality, what we needed was a sense of security and the proof that we could handle becoming parents and taking care of another life. Look at us – we bought a house for our baby! We are going to be excellent parents!
So after having our first daughter, and then another one, we find ourselves living in a two-bedroom home that literally forces us to spend every waking moment together (as well as a good deal of sleeping moments). We live in a nice town with lovely neighbors and an excellent school system. Our taxes are reasonable and my husband and I can clean the entire in less than an hour.
And yet …
I find myself explaining to people before they visit that we have a small house. I worry that, as my daughters get older, they will be embarrassed by our humble yet loving home and will think twice before inviting friends over. I find myself driving around and judging those who have larger homes and cultivating a sense of separation. Us vs. them. A battle between those of us whose children need to share a bedroom and those who have a whole spare room in their homes to find a quiet moment to themselves. There are times when I completely identify with my house – small and in need of apologies.
Pause. Deep breathe. Trust. I bring to mind the idea of aparigraha, the yogic principle of non-possessiveness and non-coveting. I see very quickly that possessions can possess us. And not just in the sense of things and objects and houses, but also as attachments to how things “should” be when they so clearly – are not. When I feel envy as it tightens my chests and burns it way up to my mouth, I choose to be brave and let it go. When I allow myself to sink into the quiet, I get really clear on what my small house truly means.
My small house is filled with love. My small house keeps my family warm and close. My small house allows light to filter in and things to flourish. My small house allows for less worry. My small house gives me freedom. I am not held captive to a life too big for me. I have been able to untangle myself from things that were not serving me. I am allowed to be a mom, a yogi, a friend, and a passionate doer and chaser of dreams. I am allowed to just be.
This is what my small house gives me. And it’s exactly what I need.
Yoga teacher, life coach and recovering attorney; tireless supporter of authentic living, stubborn follower of dreams