Leaving behind a house my kids were raised in was a lot harder than I imagined.
The problem is there’s really no time to focus on the gravity of it all amid the subsequent moving process.
There was time this week to reflect a bit on the home, which was where I proposed to my wife and the only house my kids have ever known. It was odd this week walking through it without any of our pictures, furniture and keepsakes. There was nothing about it that was ours any longer. The memories were there, however.
Over the last few months, while our home, built in 1906, has been listed, the kids have expressed their excitement for living in a home a lot younger. Beckett has been clear with his eagerness to live elsewhere, “somewhere more modern,” he says.
Though I personally share the sentiment, we encouraged our 11-year-old kid to embrace the reality of what was happening in his life. A major chapter was about to close in his life. He will always remember his childhood home. As the years go by, he will forget about the aspects he found annoying and wished were different. He will remember the Christmas mornings, especially that one requiring an emergency room trip on Christmas morning for stitches. He will fondly recall learning to swim in our pool and the time he had to go to the ER for jumping in backwards, resulting in more stitches and a scar on his chin. He will tell stories about how his old street was mobbed on Halloween each year with thousands of trick and treaters and how his parents dressed up the house.
For Carson, our neuro special child, he seemed to get it as well. Through the move process, we tried to keep things as normal as possible for him. Kids on the spectrum require a routine and schedule, so we had to approach it differently with him. While we wanted him to understand the significance of the move, we didn’t want to harp on it. We instead wanted to keep things as normal and stress-free as possible for him.
For me, the “old” house represents incredible memories. From the first day we moved in 14 years ago, I have had a love-hate relationship with it. There are many things I truly love about the old house. There’s a true charm to it and I am proud of how we transformed it over the years with home renovation projects. Along the way, there were aspects I came to dread about it, too.
One thing is for sure I will never forget our years in that house. As the stress and work of the move abated this week, I began to reflect on our life there. I am excited about our new journey, but it was impossible to not be sentimental about leaving behind this place. Though my kids truly grew up mentally and physically in the house, I, too, matured psychologically and emotionally. I became a husband and father there. I learned so many life lessons in that house about patience, love and partnership. Not every day was great, and some were miserable, but that’s life. What can’t be diminished is the lifetime of memories within that house. We must now take them with us and leave the abode to its new owners, who will undoubtedly make their own memories and find it to be as special as we do.
When I drive by that house, which I did twice this week by mistake thinking it was still my home, I will always think about the memories of raising my kids there.
I will never forget where each of them took their first steps in the house; the numerous birthday parties; the tears over loved ones lost; all the Halloween festivities; the special Christmas morning screams of excitement; transforming their cribs into big boy beds; the first time I gave them a bath at the same time; watching them swim on their own without my help in the pool; teaching them sports in the backyard; watching them flip and be lunatics on the trampoline; watching them learn to bike on our street; the many nights sleeping in their room when they were sick; building a custom fire pit in the backyard; getting schooled by one or both of them in a video game; hitting my head every single day coming down the steps from their room; the difficulty we had moving big pieces of furniture in and out of the house due to the narrow door frames; their excitement when we surprised them one Christmas morning by transforming our basement into a playroom; the many nightly challenges over homework; and dinners around the kitchen table.
As the final days in our home came and went last week, we continued to remind the boys to be aware of what was happening in their lives. Those reminders were just as much for us as they were for them. Busy and distracted by the tasks at hand of packing and moving, I don’t think Pam and I processed the huge life change as well as we should have. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take those mistake drive-bys thinking it’s our home still after quick runs to the grocery store.
It will take new memories and experiences in our new home to truly understand what has taken place in our life. I’m looking forward to them while reminiscing all the while.