In the winter of 1985, while I was halfway done growing in my mom’s belly, my parents moved into a little brown 3 bedroom/1.5 bath that was halfway between the school and the prison in which my dad worked as a corrections officer. I would be the first baby they brought home to their new house, joining my older sister.

I’d take my first steps across the brown shag carpet that the previous owner had installed. The back bedroom was mine, and mom plastered Smurf-themed wallpaper on the accent wall to try to get me to sleep in there every night, a mostly futile effort because I’d end up sharing my sister’s room with her by the time I was four because apparently big sisters can keep the monsters away (and she did).

In the basement, my dad had a workout room covered in our artwork, where he’d listen to old country music while we rode our big wheels around the support beam that helped hold our house up. When we weren’t riding bikes we were thinking up elaborate storylines for our Barbies to reenact, usually storylines from Mom’s soap operas.

In the spring of 1992, my dad and many of his friends and cousins worked hard to double the size of our house with an addition that would include two new bedrooms, a bigger kitchen, a family room, and a two-car garage. Once it was complete, we welcomed our new baby brother who would breathe new life into our home and our hearts. 

Christmases were an event at our house with my dad picking out the most oddly shaped tree he could find until mom insisted on investing in a good artificial. Birthday parties were usually held at our house, too: two in June and one in December, with Mom and Dad’s in the fall going by subtlety but not without each of them leaving a card on the counter for the other the day of their respective birthdays.

Glimpses of my parents hugging each other by the kitchen sink or my mom crying on the house phone as she received the news that her favorite aunt had died the night before play through in my mind. My grandmother running her long fingernails through my hair as I sat in front of her on the floor during an episode of The Golden Girls on the nights she’d come down and stay with us so my parents could have some time out together.

We had the biggest yard on the block, with a massive maple tree that had sprouted in six or seven directions to make it more like many trees in one. It had to have been at least 150 years old. A tiny brook ran along the side of our woods where many summers were spent in the treehouse dad built us and riding our bikes on the paths he had cleared. 

That old bathroom where I can still remember taking baths with my big sister with our mermaids and bath toys every night in the summer. Right up to bathing my own boys in that tub and teaching them to use the potty in the same bathroom I learned to go in. 

And just like Miranda sings, that little back bedroom in the new addition dad had built was my sanctuary. While Miranda may have plucked guitar strings, I penned poems and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfiction and turned into a young woman probably faster than I would have liked. 

Time is funny like that. One minute you are the kid and the next you’re the parent. In the flash of an eye, my mom walked by our bedroom with her beautiful long brown hair, and now it’s my sister and me with the long brown hair and the babies who watch us walk through our family home during get-togethers.

That old house got a makeover shortly after the addition, with white siding added and some blacktop added to the dirt driveway. That’s what it still looks like today as I fill my car up with my kids and boxes of stuff my mom has given me after a visit with my parents. Boxes of mementos, pictures, things my parents will no longer be able to fit or want in their new place.

The decluttering is nearly done, and soon the “For Sale” sign will be put out front.

Not many people get to live in one house for most of their childhood. I was one of the lucky few. That white ranch style house that was built into a hill with a cement staircase leading up to the front door is a part of who I am. All of my childhood memories are within her walls. Almost absorbed into her walls is the laughter of the five of us. She has seen us crying and seen us argue. She has held us close in the darkest and coldest of northern New York winters and warmed our souls after long periods of time away.

No matter who moves in next (and I’m secretly hoping it will be another young family) that house that sits on the old brook road will always be a part of me. And maybe one day no matter where life takes me, like Miranda, I might just knock on the door and ask to take a peek around the house that built me.

You may also like:

There’s Proof of Life in Every Corner of Our Home

10 Awesome Reasons I Love My Big Family

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Britt LeBoeuf

Britt is a married mother of two from northern New York. She has an undergraduate degree in Human Services. When she's not chasing down her two young children, she writes for sites such as Her View From Home, Scary Mommy, Filter Free Parents and Sammiches and Psych Meds. Check out her first published book, "Promises of Pineford" on Amazon too. On her blog, These Boys of Mine, she talks about parenting only boys, special needs parenting, mental health advocacy, being a miscarriage survivor and life as a crazy cat lady. 

When Your Son Grows Up, You Will Remember This

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Mother and son posing in older portrait, color photo

When your son turns 50, you will remember how, when he was a baby, he would kick the arm of the rocking chair just when you thought he was finally asleep and wake himself up for another 15 minutes of grinning and rocking. And you will smile at the memory. When your son turns 50, you will remember the endless walks through the neighborhood you took with him rain or shine because your husband had the only car for the family at work. You always visited the little wooden bridge that ran across a tiny stream, and he would jump...

Keep Reading

I’m So Lucky to Have Parents Like Mine

In: Grown Children, Living, Motherhood
Husband and wife, smiling, color photo

I was reminded recently that not everyone has parents like mine. I’ve always known it in theory, but seeing it around me is different. Getting to know and love people from different kinds of homes is eye-opening, and it made me realize something . . . I’m so lucky to have parents like mine. So, here’s to the parents who show up. The ones who work full time but still manage to make it to seemingly all your school functions, church outings, and sporting events. Here’s to the parents who took the time to sit down to dinner with you...

Keep Reading

In These Teen Years, I Wonder If I’m Doing Enough

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Boy walking in the ocean surf

It’s a strange feeling to look back at all the years as a parent and wonder if I am doing enough. My boys are teens. One of them has just a few baby steps left until he heads into life after living under our roof. He is fiercely independent. One of those kids who I have for my whole life mistaken for being years older than he actually is. The kind of kid who can hold a conversation that reminds you of when you are out with your friends enjoying a bottle of wine at a restaurant made for middle-aged...

Keep Reading

18 Years Went by In a Flash

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Girl walking into college dorm

If I close my eyes, I can conjure the feather-light weight of my newborn daughter. At under five pounds, my tiny bundle of love looked up at me with eyes so big and bright I swore they could discern my soul. No one warned me then of the chaotic parenthood journey ahead. So many firsts and lasts would pepper our paths. Her first word, steps, and school day flew by amongst a whirlwind of activities designed to keep us both occupied—park play dates, music classes, and mom and baby yoga occupied much of our early days. I recorded everything in...

Keep Reading

The Sandwich Generation Needs Support Too

In: Grown Children, Living, Motherhood
Grandma and grandpa with baby, color photo

Caregiver. Nurse. Custodian. Mother. Parent. Daughter. Son. Rinse, lather, repeat. If you had told me 10 years ago (heck, even 6 years ago) that I would quit working, care for my babies, and provide care for my parents on a daily basis, I would have laughed you out of the room. I remember how hard it was to go back to work after I had my son, commuting 45 minutes each way. I remember calling home during lunch (my husband was able to stay home after my maternity leave had ended) and yearning to see my baby boy. My new...

Keep Reading

Moms Know the Small Things Matter

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Mother playing blocks with young girl

I have always given credit to my dad for letting me find my path in life, for making me independent, fearless, confident, and everything I am today. It was he who taught me to drive a car even when my mom thought I was too young. He let me be reckless till I figured out exactly what I was doing. He even taught me to fix a puncture so I always get where I ought to. Wasn’t Dad the one who encouraged me to choose the university of my choice and find an apartment far away from home? He wanted...

Keep Reading

The Lucky Ones Know the Love of a Grandma

In: Grief, Grown Children, Loss
Wedding photo of woman with her grandma, color photo

Not so many years ago, my grandma passed away. She was my last grandparent, and when she died, it hit me like a ton of bricks. She was a force: a strong, independent, opinionated bundle of life—all wrapped up into a tiny frame of skin and bones. She rocked a solid Bob Dylan haircut, loved classical music, opera, and theater, and knew how to hold her own with my sisters and me and a bottle of good red wine on Thanksgiving. My grandma had frail, bony hands that had touched the earth of every continent short of Antarctica. She had...

Keep Reading

I Couldn’t Do Motherhood without My Mom

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Mother and grown daughter, color photo

I have vivid memories of mornings as a child. I would wake up and go downstairs into the living room just to hear my mom say good morning in the happiest voice. I looked forward to that sing-song good morning from my mom each and every morning, without fail. When I was five years old, she went with me to the pumpkin patch on a class field trip. I  remember riding on the hay ride and looking at her and smiling, just so happy that she was there. When I was 10, she took me to the mall to get...

Keep Reading

I Am Her Mother and Her Friend

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mother and grown daughter at restaurant, color photo

The moment I realized my daughter was my friend was her first college drop-off. Her tears displayed her love and gratitude to both me and my husband while her honesty and openness revealed a true strength of our friendship. I left her peering out her open dorm door, knowing the bond of mother and daughter was strong but so was that of friend. In the early years of motherhood, I knew about that fine line between mother and friend. But I found the concept even more present with my daughter. She was the last of three and the only girl....

Keep Reading

A Backpack and a Father’s Love

In: Grown Children, Living
Yellow backpack

My grandma’s standard answer when it came time to discuss upcoming events, holidays, or family gatherings was the following, “I’ll be there . . . if I’m still here.” “See you at Christmas, Grandma!” Or, “Can’t wait to come visit this summer.” Or, “Wow, it will be so exciting to have you at our wedding.” “I’ll be there . . . if I’m still here,” was always her response. And the thing is, for a very long time, she was. She enjoyed nearly 90 years and took in every possible moment when it came to time with family and friends....

Keep Reading