This old school bus has been quietly hanging out in our barnyard since Sage and his partner brought it home last August. (The irony of having a school bus parked at our place is not lost on me. I’ve been known to call it the “homeschool bus”, a mom joke that’s either met with exaggerated eye rolls or is thoroughly ignored.)
Its arrival on our farm marked both of my kids’ first ever school bus rides, but for one of them it certainly won’t be the last.
Because this bus will soon be Sage’s home.
The vision? A house on wheels for Sage and his partner Bear, to take them wherever they care to go. A rent-free, mortgage-free start in the world, so they aren’t tied down and have the freedom to explore.
Because rent, if you hadn’t heard, is off the rails and adventures await out there on the open road.
This tiny-house-on-wheels is their ticket to independence.
After a year-long slow start when they both were working full time (or better) to fund their build out, Sage began work on their schoolie in earnest in June, after leaving his job with just this task in mind.
And one bolt, one weld, one sanding pad at a time, slow but steady progress began.
I don’t want to diminish the scope of what they’ve taken on. This bus build is not small task. A DIY job of this scope, tackled by one or two people at a time? “Slow” is the operative word, a challenging, often exhausting, sometimes overwhelming reality for all involved.
And that slow march forward is how I ended up spending the past few days working with Sage down on the bus. It wasn’t much in the grand scheme, but I did my best for 3+ days, and hope to have more time available to contribute soon.
Because of all the projects he’s done, this is the biggest he’s taken on. Bigger than the 12 month project that was our swimming pond, his biggest completed project to date. Indeed, this bus build is a boggling enormous task, building a house from scratch inside of a metal box (a box that they already gutted down to the bones as well as modified, with an ambitious roof raise for more headroom).
So for Sage’s birthday this year, I offered my help, gifting him my time on the bus instead of a traditional gift. He gratefully accepted, and this weekend the two of us got to work.
For me, spending a long weekend out there by Sage’s side felt so reminiscent of every major homeschooling project he’s taken on through the years. It was a familiar role for me, though more goal-oriented this round than in free-form homeschooling projects he took on in the past.
Because growing up, he attempted countless ambitious builds–some to completion, others not. From potato cannons to plate mail, a go-cart to a trebuchet, a blacksmithing forge to our natural swimming pool (I owe you a blog post about that last one, I promise).
And the bus is a familiar repeat of those same ups and downs, starts and stalls, failures and triumphs.
Isn’t that life? We repeat, repeat, repeat, learning the same lessons time and again, year after year.
But the difference this time from those projects of the past is that quitting is not an option. This isn’t another just-for-fun-and-learning-is-a-bonus homeschooling project. And taking a break for a year or two (or forever) to let the passion have time to resurface isn’t a luxury he has.
There’s a deadline, a budget, an investment– a life plan unfolding. There’s a clock ever ticking as these two tackle one phase after another of this build, with little pause.
Like much of adulting, the only way out is through.
So the valley rings with the sound of pounding hammers, humming palm sanders, and the crackle of the welder. From now until school starts in a couple of weeks, it’s a daily grind. After school they’ll move to weekends and school breaks until it’s ready.
And I’m happy to keep leaning in and helping out, anytime I can manage.
As it turns out, I’m doing my own work (of a very different sort) while Sage plugs away at the bus. Because I’m trying to learn how to show up for them, how to listen and trouble shoot with the most supportive and encouraging attitude I can muster, and how to do all this without being annoying, overbearing, opinionated, or judgmental.
Which is, um, harder than it sounds.
And I’m working at not meddling in other people’s process or time management when it differs from mine, because it’s not actually my business (which is often).
So I guess I’m growing up, too, as this project grinds along.
But as a mom, it’s so much more than all of this.
Because my kid isn’t a kid anymore. He’s building his first home. They’re building their first home.
A home with wheels to take them wherever they dream to go; away from this farm where he grew into adulthood; away from our family and into his own.
And whew, if that’s not a big fucking deal, too, in so many ways for this mama’s heart. It’s good, but yeah, it’s also a lot.
But it’s time.
They’re ready, I’m ready. Let the fledging commence.
Because honestly, I’m rooting so hard for them now. And at the same time, I’m savoring the two decades of memories I carry with me from this life that we’ve shared. Because here we are, past the finish line of ‘kid’ and dipping ever so boldly yet cautiously into ‘adulthood’.
Damn, friends. This parenting gig is a whole lot more than I ever expected.
Hold on to your hearts out there.
And in the meantime, I’ll be doing the same over here with one hand, while the other pumps the air as I cheer them on their way.
Follow Sage and Bear’s bus build adventure on Instagram here.