Making the Tiny Leap

I’m sitting at my desk with a sprawl of paper threatening to eat my organic, goat cheese pizza.  I just crunched numbers over my late night feast.  I can do it.  My bank statement is sitting on top of my Tumbleweed plans.  Across the table, my research list scribbles every trip to the hardware store and every name of my construction recruits.  I know what I need to build my tiny house.  I know what it’ll cost.  With my new bank statement, I know I have the money.  Here’s the tripper; I also have the land.

What’s the Problem?

It’s this last point that’s caused the late night pizza binge.  My free home site lies in the corner of my parent’s yard.  My tiny home will sit on a permanent foundation and forever keep me living with Mom and Dad, while I chase the ghosts of my childhood.

Even though my relationship with my family doesn’t require a tunicate, there’s something deep seated in me that calls for autonomy and needs physical separation from my family.  I’ve grown up in a country that expects independence, and lays out this freedom along a linear flow of events:  Education, career, house, spouse, kids, retirement.  Although a degree of variation is acceptable, cross too far off the path and you become a social eyebrow raiser.  “Live in Mom’s backyard,” lies in the realm of eyebrow raising.

Questioning Freedom

I know I can easily point to the downfalls of this freedom lineup.  It’s impossible to ignore the high cost of education, the sick-laden workaholic and the mortgage meltdown.  These are the questions I ask as I chase simplicity: Is this freedom?  What happened to my independence in this pile of bills?

Balancing “We” and “I”

For me to accept land from my family, and dig my foundation in their space, I feel like I’m crossing a boarder that values, “we,” over, “I.”  It would be a sharing of resources, with an acceptance of work and care in return.  No, my parents would not breath their expectations through my windows.  But I would need to be around to care for their animals when they go out of town, tend to the garden, and resolve myself to share my comings are goings.  Then there’s the larger question of care as they grow old.  It would only make sense to become their caretaker when it’s time.  I would be their closest neighbor.

Working this family dynamic is a process for every person.  But it becomes more alive and tangible when you live in close quarters and rely on their grace to build your tiny dream.

Asking the Question

Without question, planting my tiny home next to my parents would afford financial freedom.  Sharing resources would lessen our impact on the environment as a family.  So the question remains.  Can I hack it?  Can I leave the social norm.  Sure, I see tiny homes on the path to culture coolness.  Living in Mom’s backyard isn’t quite there.  When I except that cool is not my destiny, can I hold on for the lifetime ride of these new family ties?

Figuring Thing Out.  Slowly

This is why, fellow tiny house-ers, I resorted to my organic pizza binge.  From here, I’ll continue to mill over my questions.  I’ll practice clear speaking and deep listening with my family.  I’ll give myself the room to make a decision, knowing there is not only one way to live freely and walk lightly on this earth.  Of course, I’ll leave the oven on, pizza ready.

Author Bio

Amber is a writer and outdoor educator.  She lives small in Los Angeles with her mutt, Kona.

5 Responses to “Making the Tiny Leap”

  1. NateNo Gravatar says:

    On the flip side, you’ll be able to look after your folks into their less capable years, not casting them off into a Retirement “Home” like so many do. You could take pride in being there for them, in maintaining family connection, enjoying Sunday brunch or Wednesday dinners. And theremay come a time when you’ll be glad to be close by to respond to medical emergencies, help with chores, and be there when they pass away.

  2. Grant WagnerNo Gravatar says:

    I can understand where you’re coming from. Our modern American society has placed such a strong emphasis on self reliance, that even family is considered a road block, or an obstacle to over come. It’s a new though, not more than 50 years old, and quite frankly, completely wrong.

    It is a big change to be inter Dependant. It means we need to be less selfish with our time to help others, less prideful to ask help of others when we need it, and to loose an expectation of total privacy. This is what community is about, and what our society completely shuns.

    On the other hand, any major issues aside, who better to help you make this transition than loving parents? Especially if their older, perhaps you can start telling people “My parents are in my front yard, so I can take care of them.” There is a little ego booster that won’t quite raise as many eye brows. ^_^

  3. AmberNo Gravatar says:

    Nate,
    It’s true and painful how easy it is to, “cast off,” loved ones as they age and need more care. I like the idea of taking pride in maintaining family connections, as opposed to family becoming an obligation. I think this is a frame shift that many of us can benefit from.

  4. NateNo Gravatar says:

    True, that. I like Grant’s excuse (below).

  5. BobNo Gravatar says:

    I think a person needs to help take care of their parents (but not inabling bad behavor) . It is up to each individual on how close they live to their parents. Sometimes 500 miles is to close. If you get a tiny house on a trailer, you can move as close as you need to.

    Bob