The family that sleeps together ...
Houses on Oahu tend to be small, generally speaking. Like most places where space, and particularly desirable, close-to-the-beach space, is limited, there are lots of apartment buildings with predominantly studio, one or two bedroom apartments. Houses are packed in tightly and garages are used as storage. For some reason that I'm yet to discover, people don't mind leaving their garage doors open so that all and sundry can get a glimpse into the chaos that naturally exists in and beyond the walls of tiny houses with, often, multiple residents. Garages, it seems, are where you put everything except your cars. Cars, of course, are to be kept on narrow streets, packed in like sardines, waiting to be slowly eaten by salty air.
When we were first considering the possibility of moving, we were looking at the leeward side of the island. It is drier, which suits me, and there are newer houses with tropical, landscaped yards, that are bigger and more affordable in a highly unaffordable market. Perfect. But since no good deal exists without a catch, it seemed there had to be one. Enter the C word. As we talked to anyone about potentially living on the leeward side, they all kind of gasped at the idea and warned us against the traffic. The commute into Honolulu from the west was considered a nightmare.
We consulted Google maps to discover that the 30 minute commute into Honolulu from the house I had decided was perfect was more like 1 hour and 40 minutes in rush hour. On some days, it was closer to two hours. As much as I wanted to find a way around it, we quickly realised that this scenario wouldn't be good for anyone's sanity. Not that we're precious about these things - we've both had long commutes before - but the point of moving to an island was largely to benefit from a change of pace. So we accepted the need to live in Honolulu or the windward side and the sacrifices that came with that decision ... namely, tight spaces at high prices.
Space has never been that important to us. Until L was two we all lived in a two bedroom, 1100 square foot townhouse with no yard. We needed more space to handle my inability to throw away any piece of paper my child had ever scribbled or stuck a sticker on along with their substantial, far-better-than-my-own, wardrobes. Aside from that, though, we have always handled small spaces nicely.
When I was pregnant with S, I was asked more times than I care to recall whether she was an accident. I imagine it was due either to the fact that nobody these days would choose to have three children or that we didn't have enough perceived space, or both. I still don't know how you answer that. Oh yes, we were hoping for a pony and a third bedroom but instead we got this. We don't know what went wrong.
Back then, having S was something of a catalyst for moving but we were having her (on purpose) with no certainty that we would have more space. Ideally there would be a spot for everything, but we're not particularly inclined to let the size of our house determine the size of our family. We did end up moving and the new house had an extra bedroom, a deck and a basement. In our time there we quickly filled the extra spaces with things that we ultimately decided to put on a boat and ship to an island, so we needed a house big enough to put the things.
In Kailua, where we now live, it is not uncommon for houses to be less than 1,000 square feet. We ended up finding a house here that became available within minutes of receiving GL's acceptance to the school she now attends. It is fairly big by local standards and, even though we picked it without ever having seen it in person, it fits our furniture as if it had been built for us.
Our last house had three bedrooms: GL and L had their own rooms and S shared with us. Or, rather, S had a big nursery in which we happened to sleep. In our new house we also have three bedrooms, although since we moved in the thick of summer the two bedrooms without air conditioning were essentially unusable because of the heat. We could have bought better fans, but having just moved we were tired and busy and didn't get around to it.
So, we did what any family of five would do and all moved into the master. We have a queen bed, a crib, two twin mattresses and an extra crib mattress on the floor all packed into one room. Since our standard for what is normal gradually slipped away over the summer in the lead up to moving, it's not even really very strange to us. GL and L have been remarkably good about going to sleep, while S, who happily naps in her crib during the day, screams at even the thought of being put in there at night, as though it's far too embarrassing to be seen by her siblings in a crib at the risk of looking like a baby.
Out of habit and exhaustion, we've formed a situation where we all go to bed together. GL and L sleep on their mattresses, S is entwined with me, G lays nearby and Oscar is at the foot of the bed. If I try to stay awake by reading on my phone, S won't sleep. She asks, rhetorically, "will you snuggle with me, Mummy?" as she grabs my arm to wrap it around her. I pretend to sleep, and then, using my best method acting skills, actually fall asleep. I typically wake up in the middle of the night, go downstairs and have an entire day before the Hawaiian one starts. In many ways, my body is still living on the east coast. Unfortunately my head is in a different time zone altogether, entirely out of sync.
On some nights I wake to see S walking around the room, trying on my Ugg boots and sneaking around the house. It reminds me of that scene in Fever Pitch where Drew Barrymore keeps waking up out of her stomach-bug-induced stupor to see random things like Jimmy Fallon brushing the dog's teeth. She wants to get up, but can't. That's me. I am looking through one half-open eye at the shadow of a girl who, with bed hair, resembles Annie pre-Daddy Warbucks wandering around the room trying on my clothes. One of us stumbles out of bed to bring her back, and as we drift back to sleep I sense her creeping off again. I guess she's on east coast time, too (and she really likes shoes).
We're not planning to share a room forever, but having moved to a new house in a new state after living in our old house with no furniture, we have been camping family sleepover style for months now and we've grown to like it enough that we haven't felt compelled to change it. We read together and laugh a lot and nobody complains or even seems to miss having their own room. It's never going to be cold here, but the nights will cool enough to make those other two rooms bearable - comfortable, even - and soon enough GL and L will have their own spaces or a shared one. We're not afraid of a shared room situation. Even the Pottery Barn Kids catalog has a whole section devoted to shared bedrooms. Granted, the shared room pages typically appear reserved for either fancy beach houses or rooms that take up entire floors, but everyone here likes everyone else enough to make it work. When our current sleeping arrangement ends, I think we'll all miss it.
I don't know what I'll do with S. Our master is big enough that I could split it once all the other mattresses are gone and create a combined room situation again, just so that I can keep half an eye on her during her midnight wanderings. One thing I know ... this girl can't be restrained. Once I heard a thud upstairs and instantly knew she had fallen out of her crib. When I ran up to find her standing there rubbing her head I asked what had happened and she said, quizzically with open palms "I don't know. I don't know why my super powers weren't working." I hate when that happens.