In all the emotion and confusion of moving and trying to get settled, it is easy to forget that — even though we have spent seven months living in a house furnished with only two chairs, a dining set, the girls’ cots, and our mattress on the floor, and even though our lives are still so unsettled that I have not felt able to commit to even so much as a mobile phone plan — there are some things about our lives that this move improved instantly and incredibly.
Tonight my daughters are sleeping soundly in their own rooms, safely tucked high up above the world on the second floor and just across the hall from us. Unlike this time last year, neither of them has to sleep in a hastily converted dining room, alone all night on the ground floor, right at the front of the house and literally 4 feet away from the street, where lorries and tractors rumble past at breakneck speeds, and drunks stumble past on their way home from the pub, separated from them by a window whose fragile glass panes are over a century old and whose old wooden frame no longer fits securely and rattles loudly whenever the wind blows. Tonight, E1 is not sleeping in a room with a gas fire only a few feet away from her cot (and where it is thus actually illegal for her to sleep, even though M shut off the gas supply to it). She is not in a room which always had a lingering smell of mildewy dampness that I could never get rid of no matter how much I cleaned, and which always also had a faint smell of what I swore was leaking gas, even though M ran test after test and assured me there was no leak, but which always worried me afresh every night when I laid her down to sleep. Tonight I do not have to spend the night separated from her by a whole flight of stairs, and lie half-awake, listening listening listening all night for any noise — inside the house or out — that might be a threat to her safety while she sleeps so far away from me.
There are many things about our lives that we are struggling with at the moment, but for this simple fact that we can now afford to rent a house that has enough room for us, and so I can put my daughters down to sleep near to me, in safety and comfort, I am deeply deeply grateful.