But We Grew Here: What It Feels Like To Leave A Family Home
And then he said: Let’s sell the house and move to a new one.
My life has not been the same since. What was my husband thinking? Fast forward seven and a half months to our accepted offer. This moving thing was really happening.
What were we thinking? Do you have any idea how hard it is to move when you have children?
But we did. We boxed and hauled. Load after load. Most of the time, with whiny kids in tow. Then we paid muscles to come relocate the heavy stuff.
Finally. Everything was at the new place. And the old place was empty.
With everything going on I decided to hire a cleaning crew to whip the old place into shape, for the new family. No one wants to deal with cleaning while trying to move a family.
You are welcome, new family.
Then the day arrived. It was time to turn the property over. To pass the touch. And the mortgage.
Tag, you’re it!
My hubby asked if I minded going to drop off the keys and garage door openers. Of course I would. One more walk through the place that my family had called home for seven years. Sure thing.
I pulled into the garage just as I always had. There was no clutter. It was all gone.
I unlocked the door and walked inside.
It smelled like cleaner. Everything was shiny and fresh.
There was not a single trace of my family. We had been spiffed away.
I slowly went through each room. I checked drawers and cupboards to ensure that things weren’t accidentally left behind. Important things. Like Spiderman sunglasses. Or a Hello Kitty headband.
I headed upstairs. Upstairs to the family room. Where the family would gather to watch movies. Or the children would sit and play. It was bare. No sign of us there.
I walked down the hall where the children’s bedrooms had been. Each room was empty. No evidence that they had ever slept there.
Then I opened my son’s closet door.
And I lost it.
For years my husband had logged the heights of our four children in that closet. He would have them back up to the wall, heels together, back straight. He would put a tiny pencil mark on the wall, right at the top of their heads. Then he would note the date and their ages.
I looked at each name and each mark. I felt my eyes fill with warm tears.
How could we have sold this wall? I couldn’t just take it with me? This was a piece of our history. I was supposed to just leave it there? For people to whom it meant nothing?
For a moment it was almost unbearable.
Then I thought about the new house. How it was already filled with chaos and laughter. There were little people running all over the place. My little people.
It is not about the house. It is about the home. And home is wherever my kids and husband are.
It was time to move on. Time to make new marks in new closets.
I will always treasure the memories from our old house. I brought two of my babies home to that house.
I watched three kids take their first steps in that house. I rocked four kids to sleep in that house. I kissed 4,726 boo boos in that house.
I had seven Christmases of watching kids, with barely containable excitement, running down the stair to see what Santa had brought.
We celebrated birthdays. New Years. The Fourth of July. Thanksgiving.
We hugged Grandmas. We petted puppies. We pulled teeth. We painted masterpieces with water colors.
We talked through our fears. We baked cupcakes. We struggled with math homework. We read our favorite bedtime stories. Over and over again.
We cried until the pain stopped. We laughed until our stomachs hurt. We trudged through the hum drum.
We outgrew our shoes. We learned to ride bikes. We hit our first baseball. We perfected the cartwheel.
We planted flowers. We said goodbye to a beloved dog. We played airplane with Dad. And we WERE the airplane.
That house saw all of our joy, love, pain, arguments, tears, debates, hope, anguish and dreams.
We will never forget. No one will ever erase our time in that house. Not with new paint. Or new curtains. Or new memories. We are a part of its history.
Hopefully the next family will grow to feel the same about their new home.
I had to let that wall in the closet go. But I didn’t really, you see. It is in my heart.
I was there for each of those measurements. Every new mark became a part of my soul. A part of my very fiber.
Now we move on to the next house and dare it to try to contain all of the life that we have yet to live. New things we have to discover. New lessons that we have to learn.
We have great times ahead. We have sad times ahead. We have celebrations to come. We have tears to cry. We have adventures to plan. We have disappointments to get through.
We are a family.
And I can think of nowhere that I would rather be than anywhere that my family calls home.