Over the last nine and a half years, the first place my husband and I shared together transformed from a house to a home. It has been through several changes as well; probably against its wishes but we made the changes anyway. Within these walls are memories rooted deep into the frame and structure, branching out through what can visibly be seen on the interior and exterior. The nail holes (and there are a plenty) cannot hide our inability to decorate. The chipped paint on the walls acknowledges the places where baby gates once corralled little ones. The stained flooring that can clearly withstand the test of all cleaning solutions. The giant hand print cemented into the concrete on the back patio from a little boy who wanted to make his presence known. How can I forget about the potted plants on the front steps that have battled a long summer’s worth of heat and neglect? Of course there are many more flaws that come with this lived-in home.
These imperfections are indicative of the family that made the transformation to home happen; like the story of its past. The story that we get to take with us now as we settle into our new home.
Our first home sheltered more than just those within it. It harbored the very essence of our family, and because of it I have learned that home is so much more than the place where we lay our heads at night. Home is where our values were created and exercised. Home is a gathering place of all sorts. Home is where dirty dishes and laundry piles send the message that we are busy making memories too. Home is wherever we all are together.
It has been a place of great celebration coupled with moments of heartache. These walls have seen it all and over time, our home only grew and changed with us. This wonderful place is where we welcomed our babies to and what they would come to know and claim as their own; the place they would call for and miss when they were away; just as I did.
I cursed that house many times over the years. We had done so many renovation projects on it because we never knew what our plans were or what our future might look like, so we did small and big projects over time. Some were well thought out; others were on a whim. There were things I would have liked to have changed, but we never got to it. However, the last few days we spent there I found myself insanely missing it and we hadn’t even left yet. I didn’t care that the cupboards didn’t match in the kitchen or that some of the tile was cracked in the bathroom. The un-repaired nail holes in the drywall, the wide variety of paint colors or our general lack of style inside suddenly didn’t bother me anymore either.
And honestly the little changes I wanted to make were never necessary. Those changes would not have contributed to what made it a great home…only family can do that. I am lucky enough to have both–a home and a family.
While my anxiety and fears about adjusting did surface throughout most of our move, I watched the kids happily accept our new place; which, to me, has been the best part of the move. With the help of friends and family, we are primarily settled. We have the rest of our lives to unpack and sort those boxes in the basement. For now, we are just enjoying the change in scenery and unwinding after a very chaotic last few months.
I joke about this being my first big move. When I moved into my husband’s house all those years ago, I had a dresser full of clothes, a box of picture frames and a small TV from college and that was basically it. This was nothing in comparison to moving our entire family and our combined numerous years worth of stuff. We have a lot of stuff…too much stuff. Apparently it took moving to show me that we are in the early stages of hoarding. We jointly decided that we are never moving again…like ever.
In the end we are happy and thankful for the chance to spread our roots even farther; something we do not take for granted. On the way back to the car after appointments and school registration yesterday afternoon Tessa said to me, “Mommy, I want to go home to our new house.” Home. She said it. I smiled back at her and told her that we were on our way.