I didn’t plan on moving into a basement apartment with my four and six-year-old. In fact, when my ex-wife and I discussed our separation arrangements, it was agreed I’d be given time to find a house, because in my own words, “I didn’t want to try and make a sh*tty apartment feel like home.”
I wanted to duplicate the house that I had fixed and improved for almost a decade. The problem with the house idea was that house rentals in the area were over $2000 and buying another house wasn’t an option with finances unsettled.
One evening while reading a book to my kids in our truck camper, I realized if we felt at home in a space the size of a closet then surely I could make any place feel like home as long as we were together. With the Deschutes River gurgling just steps away, I was reminded all over again to go with the flow. Not only would I look for an apartment, but I’d completely downsize.
Love is what makes a home — a home.
So I jumped at the opportunity at a private basement studio. With a business upstairs we’d have evenings and weekends to ourselves to be as loud as we want. In between feelings of anger, depression, devastation, and denial: I hatched a plan. I would transform the studio into a Father Cave drawing on my background as an Elementary teacher and using my carpentry skills.
There would be mobile loft units within the Father Cave that they could call their own. I’d utilize vertical space and most everything would be movable and multi-use. There would be a tool area, a craft area, and a painting area. There would be ropes to swing on, padded poles to punch and climb, and mats for romping.
We could pull all the mats up, grab the skateboards and have Sunday Skate Nights! Sunday Skate Nights! Downsizing my living space after divorce upsized the bond with my kids.
Although I miss my old garden, I don’t miss the constant upkeep and improvements on an old house. The time I used to spend doing mundane tasks is now spent with my kids. Going small and low maintenance was the best decision I made after divorce.
The Cave has brought me closer to my kids, redefined what I need and want. More importantly, it has shown me what kids need and want from their parents and their environment.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because in the beginning man lived in caves.
Originally published at https://www.ryanchinauthor.com
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