The moment I first drove by our house eight years ago, I knew it was the one.
The “For Sale” sign lingered at the end of the road, calling me. Impulsively, I followed it, my stomach tingling with the feeling that our search was over. And I was right. Just down the road from my parents, with land for our kids to play on, a finished basement that made a perfect playroom, and apple trees that bore the weight of their harvest that year, I immediately felt at home. Pregnant with our second child at the time, I clearly saw the memories our new house would hold: kids running and laughing around the living room, a stove simmering with soup and good flavors, nights spent lounging in front of the fire.
I had zero hesitation about buying that house (oh, the determination of a nesting pregnant mama!), but I was also positive that it would be our starter home. I knew our “real” home would come later, and that when that time came, I’d be more than ready to move on. “Oh, we’ll be in here three … five years tops,” I told my parents with a wave of my swollen hand. Ha.
It’s funny how wrong a 23-year-old can be, isn’t it? I was so sure about a lot of things back then. And while I applaud the early-20s version of myself for pushing so hard to buy that house, I also wish she would have slowed her roll on declaring how quickly she intended to leave it.
Because back then I never could have predicted, just how my heart would break at the very prospect of leaving the place where I brought my babies home. I never could have predicted almost eight years ago, just how many memories would be created in this very house.
I didn’t know then what it would feel like to rock four babies to sleep within its quiet walls. To watch three children take their first steps across this very living room. To leave the yard where my kids ran and played, rolled down hills, and collected acorns and walnuts from our trees.
I could have never known how hard it would be to leave the place where I raised my babies. And now that we are moving, my heart is breaking.
We are leaving because we found our dream home — the one we’ve been searching for for what feels like our whole lives. It has woods, fields, a pond, a pool, barns, and an orchard with raspberries and blueberries, and yup, even apple trees. We are moving because we dream of a different lifestyle for our kids and hope this will provide it to them. We are moving because it feels like it’s time to make a move while our kids are still young enough to be with us. We are moving because while this house has been perfect to raise babies in, it’s not ideal for raising a houseful of teenagers (gulp).
In a way, I’ve been mourning our move for a good three months now. Because it’s more than just leaving a place where every single thing I look at feels like part of me, it’s the loss of myself as the mother of babies who lived here. It’s not just about moving houses, it’s about moving past the baby stage of motherhood.
I spent the most intensive early parts of motherhood in this house. I spent all of the sleep-deprived mornings doing the mombie shuffle to the coffee maker here. I spent all of my exhausted afternoons crying here when I just needed 10 seconds without a small child touching me. I spent so many hours doing nothing but sitting on this couch with a baby propped on my knees, soaking in their little rolls and surprise smiles.
I will never be the mother of babies and toddlers in our new house. I won’t rock anyone to sleep or kiss toddler knee ouchies away. I won’t nurse a baby in the still of the night, watching their hair waft in the breeze of the fan. I won’t strap a baby to my chest to vacuum or bounce a teething infant while I try to sneak in coffee. That time of my life is over and this house feels like the only connection I have left to it — and now I’m leaving.
I feel like I’m betraying my babies by leaving this house, like I’m selling out the memories of rocking them to sleep for a shiny new kitchen, or somehow discounting the hours spent playing with them outside for a bigger bedroom. I wonder every day whether we are doing the right thing or falling prey to the American trap that bigger equals better. I honestly don’t know, but I do know that both my husband and I hear a tiny whisper within us — a call that is pushing us towards something more for our family. Gosh darn it, I hope we are right by following that call.
Seeing how fast the baby stage went by has shown us more than ever how little time we get with our kids. We want to make the most of what time we have left. And maybe even more importantly, create a home that they will want to come back to someday, too. I hope and pray that I can honor the memories of the babies I raised in this house while looking forward to a future of raising my big kids. And hey, a new kitchen that will actually fit all of us won’t hurt either, right?
And now that I really think about it, this new house might even have enough space for just one more member …