We are moving. The last time this happened was 9 1/2 years ago. I was 8 months pregnant with Ella and we moved cross-country with a dog, a cat, and one house plant.
I was a different person back then. At that point my life was pretty much my own to command - or so I thought. My twenties were filled with college, work, and a new husband. Our income needed to be just enough to feed our pets, buy food and wine for two, and pay the mortgage.
Life was simple. We worked. We played. We were happy.
And then a new little life entered our world and things were forever changed.
Let me rephrase...a pooping, vomiting, crying, cooing, laundry-making baby was yanked out of my body, thrown into my arms, and sent home with us while I fumbled around trying to make breast-feeding the most natural motherly act in the world. Instead I spent the first few days shedding many, many tears as baby hormones rapidly fled from my body and my breasts, now the size and shape of a porn star, ached and seeped wet, watery milk onto everything.
Then we did it all over again, twice.
But, it all happened in this house. Well, everything but the baby being yanked out of my body part.
This house, which we leave forever on Saturday, has seen us grow up. And I don't mean the kids. Sean and I have learned more in the last 9 1/2 years about ourselves and about each other than in the 30 years preceding. As our little world expanded from two to five, so did our worries and fears. Gone were the days of careless spending, happy hours after work and vacations on a whim. What had arrived was a house full of noise and little hearts with complete trust in Mommy and Daddy.
This house has witnessed our ups, downs, successes, failures, hopes and dreams. It has been filled with too many firsts to count...first giggles, first steps, first fights, first nights of sleep, first broken bones....
We watched home movies with our kids a few weeks ago. Halfway through, 7 year-old Keira starts to sob. "Why are you crying?" we all ask. "Look at how young we were!" She says. "We are growing up so quickly!"
Tell me about it, girl.
We showed the kids pictures of our new house. Ella asked, "Is this our house, Mommy?" She has asked that question of every house we have looked at.
I said, "I think so. What do you think?" Ella looked through the pictures of the house thoughtfully, then said, "Yes. I think this really is our house. We would be happy there, too."
Then Keira bursts out crying, again. "What now, babe?" We ask. "How can you even think of moving away from this house?" She pleads, tears streaming down her face...and then reminds us (as if we have forgotten), "Your children grew up here. We learned to walk here. We were babies here."
She has guilt dialed in.
But she's right. We are leaving the house where it all started - the laundry room where I cried many tears over matchless socks and dirty underwear, bathrooms I failed to clean, a kitchen floor which bore well under the weight of mashed baby food, dog saliva, muddy feet, melting snow and spilled milk (the literal kind). I am saying goodbye to the kitchen I painted a rusty orange while perched atop the counters in the 9th month of my second pregnancy. A color I still love today. A kitchen where we played the music loud and had family dance parties with toddlers and babies screaming in delight.
We are leaving the stairs our kids would race down in delight each Christmas morning. And the family room which played host to the hard-sought Colorado tree with more heart than branches. We leave the driveway where each kid learned to ride a bike. And our mountain yard where Ella, Keira and Sawyer built many forts and snowmen.
It's not like the kids are all grown up. But we are moving in a different direction. This next house will witness a different family. A family with children growing into tweens, then teens, then young adults. Young adults with worries, fears, hopes and dreams of their own.
And it will all happen so quickly.
But in the end, it is just a house. And while our hearts have lived here for years, we get to take them with us when we leave - and make our next house a home.