Thursday, May 9, 2013

New Walls, New Memories

Three weeks ago, we said good-bye to the only house our little girls had ever known as "home," and moved to a new one.  Saying good-bye was tough.  That other house was the one we bought when I was pregnant with Sam, just me and B, so so excited to become parents.  We were so proud of ourselves.  So proud that we'd (as we saw it) "made it" -- that we could afford to buy in this crazy, crazy city (that had felt like such an impossibility just three years before when we moved out here).  Proud and ecstatic that we had found the "perfect" house for our family to grow.  And, that's just it:  we thought we'd found the "perfect" house for the family we were about to have.  And it was.  For a little while.

And then it wasn't.  It was no longer the perfect house for our family, because it was limiting our girl.   As Sammie B has gotten more and more mobile in scooting and using her gait trainer, the stairs in that old house (a split-level town house with four different flights of stairs) limited her, and we hated it.  We knew it was time to move on, though admittedly it was bittersweet.  We thought we'd lose a ton of money (or ruin our credit) but we didn't care . . .well-meaning (I think) family and friends said "why don't you wait and see what happens with the market?"  But we knew: it was time.  Those family and friends weren't living our lives, seeing on a daily basis how that other house was holding our girl back, limiting her.  B and I had a hard talk one night.   One of us said, "she's going to be 'limited' by her world in so many unfair ways, we can't let her home limit her too."  And that was it . . . we put the house on the market.  We knew we might take a huge hit (and when we put it on the market, hardly anything in our neighborhood had sold for even close to what we owed -- we bought in 2008, just before the market crash).   It was a cost we were willing to pay.  But, then, the stars aligned.  We had multiple offers in just a few days, a bidding war, and then . . . it sold.  No ruined credit, not a huge loss.  I was traveling a ton for work, B scouted for rental homes non-stop, he looked at a lot of doozies and a few good ones that got snatched up by others in seconds, and then he found "the one."  I was out of town, he knew it was going to get snatched up quickly, and he did a brave, brave thing. . . he put down the deposit and said, "we'll take it" without me ever seeing it!  He was right -- it is the perfect house for our family as we are, right now.  NO stairs!  Not even from the inside to the outside!  Hardwood floors to make it easy to maneuver in a gait trainer!  A little concrete "backyard" that we adore . . . so so much to offer.  On my first tour of the house, I was ecstatic. . . as were the girls.  Sammie B scooted everywhere, saying "I'm just exploring!!!" while Mia opened and closed every door in the house 83 times each (I think it is no coincidence that the owners later installed door stoppers to protect their walls before we moved in ;o)).

Saying "good-bye" to that old house was hard, as I knew it would be. Watching everything get packed up, watching the movers empty our home . . . hurt.  Everywhere I turned, it was as if I could see some "memory" before me - in a still shot.

During my last time in the house, I went up to Sammie B's lavender room, and I sat on the floor, and I cried.  When I was pregnant and on bed rest with Sammie B, I used to sit in the glider chair in that room and talk to her.   When she was in the NICU, I used to sit in that same glider chair and sob.  Sob because I was home, but my baby wasn't.  For months, I rocked that same little baby to sleep in that glider, and a few years later, rocked her little sister to sleep in it too.  I walked slowly around the house, letting myself remember . . . everything.  Bringing each of our girls home for the first time, the Christmas mornings, the dance parties in the den, the Easter Egg hunt and first birthday parties in the courtyard, the many, many weekend days spent in the community pool. . . . without question, the best memories of my life had been made in that home.   That house is where I "became mama."   That house is where we grew our family.

As hard as it was to walk away, here's the thing . . .

In the three weeks since we moved, I haven't looked back.  Not even for a second.  You know why?  Because we've got this amazing little girl, and we pop her in her gait trainer, and she goes.  Tonight, I helped her into it on the patio (a patio that Sammie B wants to spend every spare second on!) and she said, "I'm free as a bird! I can go anywhere I want!"  Neither B nor I have a clue where she learned that saying, but it is so, so fitting.   Free as a bird.  

I worried that I'd feel like a failure if we rented.  Because we were so so proud to buy in this market.  We saw that as a huge sign of success, but until we figure out where we want to be (mostly because of the school situation) and save more for a down payment, we are renting . . . and I worried that I'd feel like it was a step back.  But you know what?  It is pretty darn free'ing too.

All around, it feels good.  Just right.  Perfect even.

And you know what?  Sammie B is making mischief like never before.  I joked to B that I'd reprimanded her more in the three weeks in this house than I had in first three years of her life . . . because it is not just that the independent mobility is giving her freedom -- it is giving her independence and confidence and incredible opportunities to explore (and get into trouble!).  I love love love hearing her say things like, "I'm going to go in there!" and "I'm going to wonder around!"  Saturday, we were out in the driveway and for the first time in her life, I had to say "Don't go in the street!" because she was headed that way . . .   And, with that warning -- my heart soared.   Imagine what this freedom and independence is doing for our girl's self-esteem.  Imagine what feeling "free as a bird" would feel like if you'd previously not known that freedom.   Oh so wonderful.

So that other perfect house?  It was once our "perfect house," but it wasn't perfect anymore.  Not for our family, exactly as we are.  But this one is.   And I know, without question, that some of the happiest memories of my life will happen in these walls too.

Where Mia's former pink room and Sam's former purple room have become "one" -- sisters sharing a room (and waking each other up, but we'll get past that one (I hope!)).  Sammie B wanted their room to be pink and purple and she wanted a yellow playroom.  Her wish is (usually) our command.   Mia seemed down with Sammie's plans.  

Openness!  Hardwood!

One of my favorite parts of the house -- it is SO nice to be in the kitchen, spying on the girls playing outside.   One of my favorite moments thus far was when I was throwing something together for dinner while they conspired together to carry all my (empty) planters from one end of the patio to the other . . . and the effort was a joint one!

Our first family dinner at the new house -- KFC because we hadn't yet unpacked dishes, etc. 

These little ladies love their new backyard . . . how perfect is it that the whole thing is concrete so that Sammie can easily maneuver in the kidwalk?!


Cristina said...

WOW! Your new house looks fantastic! I would LOVE to find one like that! A kitchen opening up to the yard like that is my dream! Congratulations! Without a doubt, you totally made the right call. XO

Mo said...

Awesome!! High five to hubby! Enjoy, relax, and "soar" with your mobile family. (hugs)

Anita said...

So happy for ALL of you! Sounds like you're exactly where you should be - enjoy it!

Kim said...

I can really feel the happiness at your change! It sounds like it's going to be a fabulous one for all of you.

We are moving too in 2 months - bought in 2007, sold in 2011 because our perfect home was not going to work for Daniel for much longer. We rented for 2 years and are now buying a fabulous, FLAT rambler with no steps to a FLAT patio. I couldn't be more excited. A huge factor for us was making home safe, comfortable and fun for him....the very same thinking that enough things are hard - home shouldn't have to be. I hope it works out as well for us as your move seems to be for you!

Erica said...

omg! when can I come visit? i love the place and I NEED to see those girls in person! this post made me so happy!!!!!

Kate Sherwood said...

I absolutely love that she feels as free as a bird! So glad for two perfect houses, perfect in their own time and season.

Kate @ BJJ, Law, and Living

Anonymous said...

That new house is beautiful. The yard is amazing - the kind of place I'd love to sit every night for dinner.

I hope Sammie B and her family enjoys dining outdoors often, very often - and this new house open with possibilities for her to be as free as a bird, indeed.

That is one very lucky little girl with amazing parents who are only slightly more lucky to have 2 perfect daughters to call their own!

-Sky's mommy