So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

You know they say you can’t go home again.

I always assumed my parents would have our childhood home forever. It would always be a place for me to come back toa place of comfort and memories. But, the Zillow listing slapped me in the face. A wake-up call that I can’t hold on to things forever. Words jump out at meCape Cod. 4 bedrooms and 3 full baths. Square feet. Finished basement. Move-in ready. Granite countertops. These were the words used to describe the house I grew up in? Nouns. So concrete and factual and so matter of fact that I wondered if the house staring back at me was even our house. I had to change that. I had to rewrite it. 

RELATED: Mom and Dad’s House Will Always Feels Like Home

I just had to come back one last time. Ma’am, I know you don’t know me from Adam.

But that front door you have closed was always opened. Kids from the neighborhood would run in and out all day. My mom would try to scrub up the footprints, only to have another little kid trod his muddy shoes into the house. She didn’t care. She loved it and would always have a snack for everyone.

Up those stairs, that bedroom off to the left was mine. It’s where I spent hours writing and filling pages of journals and playing school with my dolls.

And I bet you didn’t know out in the front lawn, there is a patch of grass that doesn’t grow. That was the home plate for our Wiffle ball games. My dad would be the only adult playing with all the neighborhood kids. He would taunt them until the losing team would skulk off and cry. And I, the only girl, would rattle off my softball chants in a squeal that was sure to annoy rowdy boys.  

If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave. Won’t take nothing but a memory. From the house that built me.

Mom got ideas from HGTV for years. From HomeGoods and Pier 1 stores. Plans were made and granite was laid. And nail by nail and board by board, my mom’s dreams came alive. We had granite countertops put in, our basement finished, and our deck expanded. But I know she doesn’t remember our house for that. My friends would gather around those granite countertops, digging into snacks and laughing, after football games, for sleepovers, friendship days, Oscar parties, and our annual beer, wine, and cheese party, which would turn into a packed house and ended with someone daring a brave soul to drink the spit bucket mixed with all the beer and wine.

RELATED: Goodbye to the House That Built Me

And down in that basement is where my brother and his friends (the bad guys) would chase my friends and me through the tunnels and the secret door. It’s where we would perform plays and have birthday parties that would turn into a game of hot potato getting out of hand between my cousins or the neighbor getting attacked by another little kid. All caught on camera, thankful that my dad behind the camera kept filming instead of stopping to intervene. And out on that side deck, an epic shot was made into the neighbor’s basketball hoop.  

If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave. Won’t take nothing but a memory. From the house that built me.

Right there in that living room is where we would decorate the Christmas tree.

My grandparents would come over for a ham sandwich lunch and to see all the presents we got. And in that little corner is where we replaced the big Christmas tree with a Charlie Brown tree the year my mom got cancer. And on those floors, we all laid together and watched a movie, thankful her surgery went well. Down the hallway, that bedroom was an office where the company my dad started grew from. My aunt would come every day to work, and she would bring my cousin to play with us. When that phone rang, we had to be quiet.  

If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave. Won’t take nothing but a memory. From the house that built me.

Outside, every summer, our yard would transform into the carnival. Right over there, by the woods was a treehouse that became the water balloon stand and next to the deck was the baseball toss. And I, by the road, would man the prize stand. After it was over, my mom would gather all of us up and march us down to Catholic Charities to hand over the money and work.

When my uncle, aunt, cousins, and grandma would visit, we had lemonade stands. Twenty-five cents for a lemonade and a pack of gum. People would come from all over to line up. As we got older, a badminton net became a permanent fixture in the yard during the summer. Friends would come over for tournaments.  

If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave. Won’t take nothing but a memory. From the house that built me.

RELATED: Someone Else is Making Memories Now in the House that Built Me

That house right next door, the Taylors live there. Their three boys now grown and moved away. In their backyard was a swimming pool. We had many volleyball games and races there.

On a summer night, we would play pickup games on their basketball court and then in the fall have a bonfire and a movie in their yard.

If you get a chance, ask them about how we killed their pet while they were away on vacation and how my dad made a neighborhood kid cry from scaring him during a campout. And when the sky got dark and the streetlight turned on, neighbors would come out to gather in our yard. The adults would talk and drink while the kids played hide-and-seek. Under the Taylor’s deck was a good place to hide.   

You leave home, you move on and you do the best you can.

Whenever I got lost in this old world and forgot who I was, I would come back to this house. At first, I came back alone. Then, I brought my husband. And finally, I brought my son. Now, I will have nothing to go back to but these wonderful memories thanks to the house that built me.  

Lauren Barrett

My name is Lauren, and I was born in New Jersey, grew up in West Virginia, went to college in Pennsylvania, and now live and work in North Carolina. I'm a high school teacher of the deaf and hard-of-hearing by day, a cross country coach by the afternoon, and a writer by night. I love my faith, running, watching baseball, chocolate, scrapbooking, pretending I would actually do well on the Amazing Race, re-watching The Office, listening to Bobby Bones, inspiring young minds, and as of recently momming it! 

To the Emotional Mom of a High School Senior, Enjoy It

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Teen girl in graduation gown, color photo

Dear moms of high school seniors, I see your posts on social media, and I sense your excitement, mixed with anxiety and a bit of sadness (if we are being completely honest). I notice your photos of all the lasts, and I celebrate your child’s accomplishments with you. I see you, and I know you because I have been you, twice now.  I feel the almost palpable sinking feeling that hits in the pit of your stomach when you think about them moving on to the next stage. How is it possible they have grown from such a tiny, helpless...

Keep Reading

A Mom Never Stops Wondering if She Did Enough

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Mom and teen son

Two days before my first child left for college, I swallowed tears passing the chocolate milk in the grocery store. I did not need to buy it. Every time I saw someone that summer, they would ask, “Are you ready”? Is he ready?” And the answers were always no and yes. I did not want to let go. I wanted to relive and hold on (one more Cubs game, one more of your favorite dinners) and teach any last-minute things I had forgotten over 18 years (laundry sorting? self-check-in at O’Hare?). But those were the small things. In my heart,...

Keep Reading

Mothers Don’t Teach Us How To Live Life Without Them

In: Grief, Grown Children, Loss, Motherhood
Woman in dress with corsage, smiling color photo

When you’re a little girl, you dream of marriage, children, a career, and memories that you will cherish forever—and you want your mother by your side at all times. Our mothers teach us how to live a life we will enjoy, but they never teach us how to live a life without them in it. Our mothers don’t tell us that one day they will not be here to answer the phone when we call or go on spontaneous dinner dates. My mother never told me there will come a day when she will be gone and how bad it...

Keep Reading

There Are No Mother’s Day Cards For Broken Relationships

In: Grown Children

Every May, I wrestle with, what is for me, the most highly fraught holiday of the year—Mother’s Day. As I stand staring at the abundance of cards produced by companies such as Hallmark, American Greetings, and the like, I wonder if any of the card writers ever wrestle with finding just the right wording for a card as much as I wrestle with trying to find the most ideally worded card.  While there are a variety of options to choose from—sentimental to faith-based to funny—I’m on the hunt for something different. A card that captures the true essence of my...

Keep Reading

After My Mom Died, I Carried the Grief of Those Around Me

In: Grief, Grown Children, Loss

When the phone rang at 4:30 in the morning, I knew immediately who it was and what she was going to tell me. It was sweet Betty, and she was calling to tell me Mom was gone. My mom had cancer and dementia and had been in hospice care for the past month.  She was still breathing but no longer living. I knew the call was coming. I was expecting it, so I was prepared. Or so I had told myself up until 4:29 a.m. But I was not prepared. I was not all right. I was wrecked. I was...

Keep Reading

A Mother Doesn’t Stop Being a Mother When Her Son Is Grown

In: Grown Children, Motherhood

I saw you in pain today. Not a physical pain, where I could hand you a Band-Aid or two Advil and provide reassurance that the hurt will go away. You tried to mask the agony by hiding in your room. But it was too obvious to miss. When you were a child, I could place you in my lap, hug you tight, and whisper, “Everything will be alright.” I could protect you from scary monsters and the neighborhood bully. Reluctantly, you would tell me your fears—you talked, I listened. Then, I talked, and you listened. We’d recite a line from...

Keep Reading

Something Beautiful Happens When Your Parents Become Grandparents

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Grandpa with his grandson, color photo

Sometimes I watch my parents with my children, and I wonder who are these people and what happened to the people who raised me? Something changed in my parents when they became grandparents, I think. It’s like life offered them a second opportunity at getting it right. A second chance at being good parents to small children. And they jumped at that opportunity like into a refreshing pool on a hot, sticky, humid day, reemerging from its depth brand new, shiny people. Suddenly, things that were egregious for them when my brother and I were children don’t matter anymore. Whenever...

Keep Reading

Moments Become Memories When You’ve Lost a Parent

In: Grief, Grown Children, Loss

Last weekend, we celebrated my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday. It was a joyous occasion honoring a remarkable woman. It was also a devastating reminder that my mother is gone, that she will never celebrate her 80th birthday, or any birthday, ever again.        There is no way to prepare for the pain of losing a parent. It’s like being forced into an oddly exclusive club you never knew existed. Only after experiencing it can you understand the grief, the void, the all-consuming feelings of sadness. RELATED: To Those Who Know the Bitter Hurt of Losing a Parent When my mom...

Keep Reading

The Connection Between a Mother and Son Changes But Never Breaks

In: Grown Children, Motherhood

Words, phrases, entire sentences left my son’s mouth at the dining room table as if he were speaking a foreign language: cryptocurrency, NFTs, digital reality, avatars, metaverse real estate. Not unlike the time he used his eight years of Mandarin to order dinner at Tang Pavilion. My husband nodded and responded in the same dialect. The words floated in the air as I sat with a dopey look on my face, like a toddler seeing a soap bubble for the first time. The years of skipping the Business section in favor of The Arts had finally caught up to me....

Keep Reading

My Absent Father is the Reason I’ll Always Put My Son First

In: Grown Children, Living

Hi Dad, it’s me, your little girl. I am now a parent myself. I now have my own little kid running around, missing his father. They’ve always said I am just like my dad, but my kid isn’t fatherless because of me. And you know, it’s funny that he looks more like you than I do. So when he does a new little trick he learned in daycare, my heart tightens up not just because you’re not there to see it, but also because that little side smirk he does looks just like the one I used to see on...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids


Proven techniques to build REAL connections