We’d been “keeping our eye out” for a new home for about a year before we found what we’d been looking for and finally decided to put our current house on the market. We always told ourselves we were content with our home – committed to making it work, even though it never felt like the right fit. Even though we’d built it from the ground up and carefully chose every single detail with the most thoughtful of intentions, from which side of the street it faced and its farm red paint, to the faucets, doorknobs, and where every single light should go – all the other thousands of items that make a house.
When we found a brand new house, with the perfect layout only half a mile from where we currently live, we knew this was our chance. You see, we’d spent the last two and half years complaining that we couldn’t settle in and make the place feel like ours. No matter how we rearranged the furniture, or what pictures we hung on the walls, or how many meals we shared alone in the way too oversized kitchen, it never felt like we were really living there. And it was stressing us out. First world problems to say the least, I know. The new house, a ranch with a cozy feel (even with only the drywall up) will be much easier to manage and settle into. We think. We’re going for it, despite not knowing for sure, to simplify our lives and take unused, empty rooms and vaulted ceilings out of our precious brain space. We’re hoping the new place can be a house that fits our family, rather than the other way around.
Once the contract for the new house was signed, my husband immediately felt relieved. A 2,200 square foot, two-story, two and a half bath-burden lifted off of his shoulders. And I felt – what was it? Hesitation? Regret? Sadness mostly, I think. Now that we’re closer to the closing date, I can see that somewhere along the way, our house went from just “not feeling like home” to something else entirely. Almost a year ago, we brought home a baby girl. And without even realizing it, our baby, and everything else that comes with being thrust into parenthood, turned the house that we just couldn’t get comfortable in, into a home.
There wasn’t just an empty room at the top of the stairs, used to hang our laundry to dry. Now there was a nursery. A playful one, full of love, which came together well after we brought the baby home a full week before her due date, using nap times to build bookcases and hanging pictures many, many months after her early debut.
Instead of a living room that always felt like it was missing something, now there’s a basket of favorite toys and blocks, baby blankets, and an embarrassingly large activity center next to the coffee table.
And even though we’ll take everything with us – the crib and the rocking chair, the cotton candy-colored mountain landscape our friend painted for the nursery, and all the other baby gadgets – it makes me feel incredibly sad to know that my daughter will have no recollection of the place where she lived out (and together we conquered) the milestone filled first year of her life. The year that has been by far the very best, and very hardest of my existence. She’ll never know the room where her father and I rocked her to sleep every. single. night. The place where she took her first wobbly steps (our bedroom closet), or her spot on the edge of the kitchen island where we would park her Bumbo every night while we cooked dinner. The place where we became a family.
We’ll settle in just fine in the new, new house, I’m sure. And while I know there is a lifetime of memories to be made there – new dinner spots to claim, new messes to make, and new milestones to reach – I can’t help feel like we’re losing something precious. Like a box of photographs or hospital blankets we accidentally left behind.
As it turns out, when you’re busy learning the rhythms of your family – the bedtimes and middle-of-the night wake-ups, snack times and dinners, dog walks, diaper changes, playing and games, praying for sleep, too-short naps, giggles and meltdowns, bickering and making-up, working too much and never sleeping enough – that’s when a house transforms into a home. So while in my heart I know that the house we’re leaving behind isn’t “the one,” I will miss it so much. For me, my baby girl, and for what this house helped us become.