The other day, Selena declared, “I want to go home.” We were stuck in line between fifty cars in front of us and thirty cars behind. I explained that we couldn’t leave right now, and not because we were crammed in by a few tons of steel, but because it was time to pick up Kira from school. It was the second to the last day and she would soon be finding out if she won the most accelerated reader points for the school year, like she did in third grade.

But despite my explanations, Selena continued to ask. 17 1/2 times she asked, the last time I cut her off and she made a mean face that sort of looks like her mother’s Grinch face (which absolutely scares the potty stuff out of me, btw). Either way, I finally asked the question that I should have asked all along, “What is at home that you need so badly?”

“Mommy.” Apparently, home wasn’t a building at all. It was a person.

Just then Kira got in the car and she had the news, she not only got the most AR points for her class, and her grade, but for the entire school, by like 300 points! She couldn’t wait to get home and tell her mom.

A few minutes later, there we all were huddled up in our bedroom: me, Tashina, Kira, Selena, and Gideon. The whole rest of the day consisted of us going in and out of two rooms, until I briefly used the kitchen to make dinner.

At any given moment there are hundreds of square footage in our home that goes completely unused, while we basically pay someone else’s mortgage for them. What a bizarre system. The reality is that the kids would rather spend time sitting on our bed cuddled up telling us about their lives, or them all huddled into Kira’s room playing with peg dolls. The kids don’t need as much as we were told by society that they did. So, for me this idea of living smaller is not just a question of ‘are we making the best use of our space?’, it’s also ‘are we making the best use of our lives?’


Nathan Monk is a husband, father, author, and former Orthodox priest who writes about growing up in childhood homelessness, and brings awareness to the social and justice issues related to first world poverty.

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