“My little sister called me this week, to say that one of her closest friends is being beaten by her mother, who apparently thinks this is legal. The daughter thinks calling the cops will make things worse. So, Ezran is coming to live with us.”
I started that paragraph on June 4th, and by Friday night, Ezran had moved in. She was oddly cheerful and exuberant, for someone coming out of a nightmare, but we have no experience with this sort of thing, so couldn’t tell if it was normal. Her whole deal had been a willingness to act as a nanny in exchange for room and board, initially with us, and then ultimately with a family with a bigger house.
Within two days, it was clear that the whole, “I’ll do anything to earn my keep, just get me out of here,” speech to my little sister was just that. Ezran proceeded to sleep till noon, watch TV in the middle of our primary common area, occasionally play with Wolfie, and only do housework if specifically asked to do it. She started going out with her friends and staying out till 1:30 or later, frequently forgetting her key and waking me up when she wanted in at whatever hour. Within a week, Fierce and I were seething. While he put in long days designing web pages or working on our extensive list of home projects, I was spending 12+ hours cooking, cleaning, organizing, tutoring, or doing work for my fledgling tutoring company. Having somebody who clearly thought that 1-2 hours of playing with Wolfie now and then was more than enough to pay her share dampened any sympathy we had before. I started to doubt that the mother had been so bad, or that Ezran had been so unfairly framed as a fast girl.
So, with the help of the little sister who got me into this, and had since decided that the accounts of domestic abuse were greatly exaggerated, helped me explain to Ezran that Fierce and I had thought this was a short term thing, and that she needed to find a real nanny position. She went from making virtually no effort to finding work over the prior 10 days to having a position within the next two. Between this conversation and her move-out date, she went from helping occasionally, to not doing a single thing.
It was an odd experience, to get so thoroughly fleeced by an 18-year-old. It turns out that she has made some disparaging remarks about her situation with us (we “stole” her food, meaning the take-out that my little sister brought from her job to offset the inconvenience to Fierce and me) to my little sister. Lisa let her have it. Lisa has lost all sense of respect for Ezran, as she has proceeded to date twin brothers in the same group of friends, taking advantage of their willingness to pay her way, and a general lack of awareness of how much work has been done to help her find work and supplementary babysitting.
Fierce and I had thought that we would be able to help guide her over that hump between leaving home and being an adult. A friend of mine was dropped by her parents at this time, and has turned into a financially irresponsible, self-serving mess. But it turns out, through conversations with this said friend and Ezran, it’s really hard to help somebody who thinks she knows it all and that the fruits of adulthood come easily.
I’m grateful for the experience if only because it taught me that my home already is a sanctuary. I read a lot of Christian mommy blogs, many of which have a strong domestic or large family tilt. I find myself feeling, “We’ll be complete when we have at least three or four kids” or “once we finish painting everything in the house and get the yard in order, we can feel at ease in our home.” But the fact is, Ezran proved that our home is already a sanctuary. We already filter out so many of the things that we don’t want to deal with during our private time: self-absorbed pains, financial leeches, teenage drama, and anybody at all who wants to plant themselves in the middle of our conversations. I didn’t realize that sanctuary doesn’t mean a perfectly decorated and perpetually peaceful house, or even one where everyone present has achieved spiritual enlightenment. A sanctuary is simply the place where I can comfortably be myself, with my husband and kid(s). It’s nice that we’ve worked to make it so much more beautiful than it was, but its power comes more from what is not inside of it rather than what is.