As I type this, boxes are sprinkled throughout the house. Some are filled with things that we are keeping, others with things that we are donating. We are in a stage of purging, and although it’s freeing, it’s also terrifying because it’s symbolic of the change that had seemed to be on the horizon for so long. The change that is now here.
This – this house – is home. It is my childhood dream in a tangible form. The walls now filled with tears and laughter, milestones and memories, will grow silent as we load up a moving truck and drive away from what I once thought could be our “forever.”
I always wanted a house. I grew up in one. After my parents split up, we moved in with my grandparents. And after a couple attempts at reconciliation we found ourselves back there again. It was our home base. In a world of uncertainty, Grammy’s house was a constant. Sure it was chaotic, but it was home. It was where we celebrated birthdays. It was where I made mud pies and where I got a puppy. It was where I waited for my mom, who walked home on her lunch break every day to spend time with me. It’s where I tried to dig to China and where I held funeral services for all my pets that didn’t make it – three birds, two frogs, one hamster and some fish. It’s where I snuck out and got caught (and in HUGE trouble). It’s where I cried over my first heartbreak and planted strawberries alongside my grandmother. It’s where life happened.
The house I sit in now was supposed to be that for my family. My husband and I signed the paperwork with wide eyes and a million plans. We were doing what everyone said we should, we were getting married and buying a house. It was during a time when the market was crazy and our search had lasted over a year. We were exhausted from writing offers and dealing with agents who didn’t have our best interest at heart; we finally had a trustworthy agent, a friend, and decided this one had to be “the house” because we finally stood a chance. No bidding wars, just a little back and forth with the seller. But, in a sense, we settled for “Mr. Right Now” rather than waiting for “Mr. Right.”
The years that followed unfolded in ways we hadn’t anticipated. Along with that came a restructuring of dreams, particularly mine. I realized that I had been chasing things. I wanted a pretty house and I wanted to fill it with pretty things. But I quickly learned that it would come with a cost.
In time, I discovered that what I wanted more that beautiful things was the chance to make beautiful memories. I had the house but was hardly ever home, and when I was home, I was too exhausted from work to make any memories. I was surviving but had long since stopped thriving.
So we decided to make some changes, and the biggest one is that we are moving to an apartment. For the first time in my adult life, I will be a renter. This place will no longer be home.
But the greatest lesson that I’ve found in all of this is that, no matter what we call it, no physical structure will ever truly be home.
I look at my husband and my babies and see my new truth – they are my home. No matter what changes we face, we face them as a family. My husband’s arms have been my safe place. He is home. My babies – their laughter and the warmth I feel when they are nestled in my arms – they are home. The love that I feel on a daily basis surrounds me and comforts me more than any building ever could.
The boxes that are sprinkled throughout this place don’t just hold clothing, dishes and trinkets – they hold our second chance. A chance to be free from financial stress, to save up and wait for Mr. Right. In all of this, in the letting go of these material things, I have come to see that I have something far more valuable than what I once coveted.
I always wanted a house but more than that I wanted a family. A house is just a house; family is everything.
As a result of all of these changes (and being married to the most selfless man I know), I have more time to love my family and dance in the magic of my daughters’ childhoods. I have more time to do the things that make my heart sing. I have time to make my home beautiful. To put my entire being into caring for it and cherishing it and filling it with an immeasurable amount of love. Because home is them. Home is us. No matter what lies ahead home will always be home.
As moms, we want to give our kids everything. We want to give them a house with a backyard to run around in, a swimming pool, a white picket fence. But the greatest thing we can do is give them a loving, safe environment. To be a refuge for them no matter where we are, to be their home base. In a world of uncertainty, WE will be their constant. We get to teach them a new definition of home.
The best thing in life to hold on to is each other. – Audrey Hepburn
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