There’s a lot going on in my household these days. In fact, as we prepare to close on the sale of our home, I’m realizing just how much has gone on in our household.
When Thom and I bought the house, it was an old place with good bones. Eyeing its potential, we reveled in its charm and old-house details, convinced it just needed some paint and spackle. A couple cases of spackle, myriad repairs and countless gallons of paint later, it did become a home.
With that start, the house already was loaded with sentiment. But then it became the first place in which I rocked my child to sleep, the spot where I began to learn the daunting ropes of motherhood.
Bittersweet is an understatement.
It’s where my mom and sister came just hours after we received “the call” to help pack for the hospital. It’s the crackle of the stone driveway I hear each time I remember bringing Maeve home, our extended families standing there waiting to meet her.
In our living room she toddled her first steps, right into my sister’s welcoming arms.
For her first birthday, we celebrated in the backyard: our closest friends and family, countless balloons, food galore, bright tablecloths, a packed piñata, and multiple cakes.
We gather on the couch to read – first baby board books, now stacks of picture books – in front of a crackling fire.
Maeve chases cats Kate and Ella around and under and over and up and down the house, once a crawling baby and now a young girl, determined to cement a friendship.
Sitting in the shadows of the tree each Christmas morning, we’ve watched Maeve’s excitement and understanding grow. This year, a shiny new bike greeted her as she came downstairs.
We’ve hurried up those same stairs on movie night to pick the evening’s entertainment.
She’s moved from sweet nursery with mosquito netting and soft teddy bear to sassy big-girl room with play tent and carefully arranged dolls.
Maeve took her first bite of corn-on-the-cob — now her favorite vegetable — on the bright red bench in our breakfast nook. In that same spot, we now practice writing her name and numbers.
The screech of her bench dragging across bathroom tile to stop just in front of the sink — the required preface to toothpaste-squeezing (not so much, Maeve!), tooth-brushing (a little longer, Maeve!) and vitamin-choosing (any one of them will do, Maeve!) — will soon be just a memory.
When we all cuddle in our bed, her foot jutting into my side or her head bumping into Thom’s, we ask how she got so big. She giggles and as if she’s revealing a secret, tells us she just can’t help it, she has to grow into “a dult” like us. Then we tell her again how at just a few days old, she lay between us in this very bed and we stared with amazement, watching her every move.
Since the house went on the market, I’ve been stumbling around these and so many other memories, trying to make sense of leaving it all behind.
Then my mother, in an oh-so-motherly tone, set me straight: “Gretchen, when you get down to it, a house is just a bunch of wood and nails. It’s you and your family that make up all those moments. That’s what makes wood and nails a home.”
Enough said. So I’ll keep packing, shed a few more tears and then let go, knowing we’re starting a new chapter in the book that is our family. There are new memories to create, dreams to make a reality – perhaps a sibling for Maeve – and family stories not yet written.
Deep breath, Gretchen, deep breath. Then off to the next pile of wood and nails.