This weekend we officially moved into our new house, in which L’s favorite part is “the two doors and the room for my toys and running around,” and tomorrow we sign the papers to close on the sale of the first house we ever owned.
I am prone to attachment. I should be having many feels about this. I, who carried along to this new house a crystally rock that has sat in the garden at every home I have ever lived in. I, who as a child sat in the old truck sobbing when my dad was trading up. I, who kept every birthday card I ever received and still have every daily planner I ever wrote in.
I can’t get out of this house fast enough.
Partly I think I don’t have the emotional capacity for this departure to rip me apart. I most likely left that house for the last time yesterday, and I barely had time to think about that because I was trying to haul boxes and furniture while comforting a clingy barnacle child who didn’t feel great and also DOESN’T LIKE CHANGE and he wouldn’t nap and wouldn’t eat and wouldn’t be put down and he needed Daddy’s car not Mama’s car but Mama needs to drive it and our dog wasn’t in the right place and where are his trucks and let’s gooooo Mama.
Besides all that, though….I still don’t feel the way I’m probably supposed to. I imagine lots of people have an extra hard time leaving their first house. It’s a milestone, and it’s filled with memories. But for us, well – when I look around those now-empty walls, this is what I see:
Over there is where I sat all day one sunny Thursday in May, in denial I was actually in labor but full of growing fear.
There is the door I walked through when I came home from the hospital with empty arms.
There is the nursery that stood empty for 131 nights.
Here are the rooms that were suddenly no longer quite my own, as I was forced to accept that I couldn’t care for my own child without a parade of home care providers – many of whom were a source of anxiety and frustration in and of themselves.
There is where I spent countless hours trying desperately to get him to eat a little more, and a little more, and a little more, and feeling with every passing minute that I was further failing him.
There is where I sat hiding my face from L so he wouldn’t see the tears I could no longer hold in.
There are the walls that closed in on us that first winter, when we could barely leave the house and couldn’t see an end in sight.
There, and there, and there, and there, and there, and — well, you get the idea. All of those places? They’ve been covered in vomit and poop more times than I can count (welcome home, new homebuyers!)
This house is filled with memories, but many of them are the kind that make it harder to move forward. And the memories it should be filled with, well, a lot of them happened elsewhere. L smiled at me for the first time in the NICU. He met his grandparents in a NICU room and met our dog for the first time in the hospital courtyard. He spent his first Halloween in unexpected surgery. His first bite of oatmeal was in a hospital room, and he took his first steps in a physical therapy session.
This house is full of love, but we’re taking that with us. It is where Z proposed to me, but I suppose I’ll take him with me too. What we’re leaving behind is an empty shell; the important things are coming along to a new shell we can make our own, on our terms.
Our new house is a fresh start for us. It signifies us taking control of our lives and getting on with things. I say that knowing full well that it may never be smooth sailing with L; we spent our first night in the new house scrubbing a mess off the carpet in his room in the wee hours of the morning. Parenting is always hard, and it’s always going to be extra hard for us, and there’s a decent chance we will be taking a big step back before long.
This house does not mean we’re leaving all that behind; it’s a reset. We are leaving behind the stretch of our lives in which things happened to us and we reeled and tried to recover but mostly spun along out of control and waited and waited for an all-clear that will never come, and we are forging ahead with eyes wide open, knowing that it’s time to stop waiting, and that we have become capable of adapting, and that whatever comes, we can get through it together.
Plus, you know, there are two doors that slide, and there’s room for one hundred fire trucks and running around.
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