All the boxes had been packed. All the cleaning had been done. All the paperwork had been signed. We were finally moving.
After years of saving and sacrificing to make it happen, that new house we’d dreamed of for our family of five was finally ours.
As we spent the last moments in the house before turning it over to the realtor to stage, I saw my kids plopped down on the bare floor together. Shoes off, using their jackets like pillows. Just lying there. They were still so comfortable in this space even though it was stripped down to a blank canvas.
This was still their house—furnished or not.
Let me tell you about their house.
It is the perfect starter home. It has a great floor plan, walking distance to a good school, and close to shopping and restaurants. It has fantastic neighbors who actually talk to each other and host holiday parties. It’s close to work, and we thought we’d only be there for a few years, then would upgrade.
Our “few years” spanned one complete economic collapse, three kids, multiple hardships, many successes, and most recently, one global pandemic. Having five people trapped together, working and doing virtual school together all day every day, made the walls feel like they were closing in on our already tight quarters. There was absolutely no separation of space, so there was no getting away from each other. Sometimes I would take my conference calls from my car in the garage just to feel like I wasn’t constantly shushing someone. It felt the walls were closing in on us.
I never loved this house the way they did. I had always wanted it to be more than it was and was resentful that it was never going to check all our boxes.
I was grateful for all it sheltered us from, but still was always looking forward to moving.
When we found our new house, I felt guilty also. Guilty that I was so ecstatic about the space and yard and the extra bathroom. Oh, the joy over having one more bathroom!
I was beaming when our offer was accepted and my smiley face was met with sobs and meltdowns. How dare we move them from their school and friends? How dare we take them from the only home they’d ever known? Who cares about getting their own bedrooms? This is where they started! They said I didn’t care—I was just the mean mom who hated their home and didn’t care about moving as long as I got the house I wanted.
We had a sign on our entertainment center that read, “Love grows best in small houses.” They pointed to the sign repeatedly over the course of our moving process to remind me a bigger house didn’t mean more love, just more space. I had to defend my position about it being the best thing for all of us and that the new house could give them things this house would never be able to give. I begged them to give the new house a chance and see the potential.
I knew they would learn to love it, and of course, our love as a family would grow to fill every square foot.
Now, on this last day as they huddle together on the floor one last time, I can feel a little more of how they feel about moving, but that has helped me feel even better about the move as well. These walls held so many memories, and that was the one thing we couldn’t pack up into boxes. We are just going to have to pack our new house with them.
I pressed my hands on the cold granite countertop and gave a silent thank you of gratitude and apologized for judging it so harshly all these years. It was and is a great starter house, and since we are already further down the line, it was time to let someone else love it the way my kids did.