We’ve made lasting memories in our first home

Editor June 9, 2016 Comments Off on We’ve made lasting memories in our first home
We’ve made lasting memories in our first home

We moved into our house 12 years ago this month. Next week, we will hand over the keys to somebody else and leave it behind.
Our first house—we were practically newlyweds when we moved in, no kids. It smelled of sawdust and fresh paint, everything shiny and untouched. The empty rooms felt like blank pages in a new diary.
They wouldn’t stay empty for long. Barely two years passed before our son was born, and less than two years later, our daughter. Our beautiful dining room transformed into a playroom, and laundry piled up on our fireplace hearth. The laundry remained a fixture for the next decade.
We talked about a third child, but our 3-bedroom home felt like it was bursting. No, three kids wouldn’t work in this house, we decided. Baby Mark arrived anyway, and sure enough, we found a place for him.
Ok, we told each other, but we are out of space and energy, so NO WAY can we have four kids in this house. Whaddya know, Baby Luke made his debut 2.5 years after Mark.
That’s when we decided to move.
There were days I didn’t love this house. Luke’s crib took up permanent residence in our master bedroom, and I was constantly tripping over toys and children. At times I felt like the walls were closing in on me.
“We need more space,” I told my husband.
It took a few years of talking about it, but it’s finally happening, and we’re moving into a home with the space I’ve been wanting. Our new (to us) home has four bedrooms instead of three, and my husband and I are pretty jazzed about no longer sharing a room with the 3-year-old. It’s a lovely home, walking distance to the park, in a neighborhood filled with kids and shady trees. There’s a long driveway perfect for basketballs and tricycles. The children are thrilled because it’s two stories, so they can roll all sorts of things (hopefully not each other) down the stairs.
I’m thrilled about the move, but as it’s sinking in, that we’re REALLY leaving behind our pretty, little house, my heart feels heavy with nostalgia. Every inch of this house has a memory attached to it. There’s the shady spot in the front yard where my white cat would take long, lazy naps. There’s the shady spot in the back yard where we buried his ashes. My oldest son took his first steps in our living room. My daughter took hers in the front hallway. Life was too chaotic for me to note where the youngest two kids started walking, but it happened here. I’ve washed dishes and babies in the kitchen sink; scrubbed handprints and crayon off the walls. We’ve hunted Easter eggs in the yard and hung Christmas stockings from our fireplace mantel.
There’s a place on our front porch where my husband and I sat, stunned with the news our first baby would be born with a developmental disability. “I can’t do this,” I told him. “I don’t know how to be that kind of mom.” A year later, and our baby boy played in that same shady spot while I pulled weeds from the flower beds. It was in this house that I learned how to be that kind of mom.
There’s the spot on our kitchen floor where I laid down and cried, brokenhearted after a miscarriage. There’s the sunny place in the front bedroom where I rocked my baby girl to sleep in her apple green nursery. The curtains were pink toile.
I labored for hours in our jetted master bathtub before heading to the hospital to birth our babies. I remember falling asleep between contractions, waking up to find the water had turned cold.
I never would have imagined we’d bring four babies home to this house. But we did, and we made it work. We baked birthday cakes and read stories and painted pictures. We grilled in the backyard. We laughed a lot. We hollered more than we should have. Sometimes we argued. We always, always made up. We slammed doors and kissed booboos and danced.
These rooms will be empty again in a few days, but they’re no longer a blank slate. Over a decade of memories live here. A family grew here.
(Betsy Swenson can be reached at sliindelife@gmail.com.)

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