Two years ago, my parents sold my childhood home. Two years ago, I said goodbye to the house where I slept for more than 20 years, where I learned to ride my bike, had countless sleepovers, and suffered my first heartbreak. Two years ago, I closed that door behind me for the very last time, knowing I would never be able to return to the place I had called home for nearly my entire life.

Two years ago, my parents sold the first house they ever bought together. And I can’t blame them for letting go of the past. That house was filled with memories, but the children who had created those memories were long gone, grown up, and creating new memories in new places. So two years ago, my parents sold their house to follow some of those new memories. Two years ago, my parents bought a new home, just 15 minutes from mine.

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Their new house doesn’t have a bedroom for me, but it does have places for my siblings and my children to sleep. My parents have created a new place to call home where their children can all gather together and keep making memories as a family.

This new home has welcomed a new generation, and it is already filled with life, love, and new dreams and memories.

I don’t have a bedroom in my parents’ new house, but I do have a seat at their table. I will always have a place at their table. I will always be able to call their house my home. I will always be welcome there. My parents have made it so that I am just as at home in their house as I am in the house I share with my husband and children. Home is truly where the heart is, and my heart has a home with my parents and with my husband and children.

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My parents’ house will always be my home, no matter where they might live. It is the place where I can help myself to whatever is in the fridge or the cupboards even if it means finishing off the last of the cake. It is the place where I can lounge on the couch and change the channel whenever I feel like it. It is the place where I can come when I want and leave when I want, and I know I will never overstay my welcome. My parents’ house is as much for me as it is for my parents, my siblings, and my own children.

It belongs to our family, which continues to grow as the memories multiply. It is less about theirs or mine—it’s all ours.

So to the moms and dads who continue to leave their grown children seats at the dinner table, thank you. Thank you for giving us the great mercy of being children when life becomes overwhelming. Thank you for always welcoming us back, even though we are the ones who spread our wings and flew away. Thank you for showing us that your home will always be our home, and not just our home but home for our spouses and children, too. Thank you for always opening your arms and doors to us. Thank you, Mom and Dad, and I’ll see you this weekend when I’ll take my place at your dining room table once again.

Shannon Whitmore

Shannon Whitmore currently lives in northwestern Virginia with her husband, Andrew, and their two children, John and Felicity. When she is not caring for her children, Shannon enjoys writing for her blog, Love in the Little Things, reading fiction, and freelance writing on topics such as marriage, family life, faith, and health. She has experience serving in the areas of youth ministry, religious education, sacramental preparation, and marriage enrichment.