I’m standing in the doorway of my daughter’s bedroom and an old but familiar feeling grips my heart. A sense of expectation, anxiety, hope. I let it wash over me, and a childhood’s worth of images comes to mind.
Fifteen years ago (has it really been fifteen years??) I sat in this very same room, belly big as a watermelon, surrounded by pink receiving blankets and triple sets of onesies piled on the floor, the fallout of an abundant baby shower. In a matter of weeks I’d be snuggled in our shiny new glider rocker, holding my first newborn in my arms. My stomach fluttered with the uncertain wonder of this next life change.
I remember painting this room, with its soft green nursery walls that over time housed the toddler stage, the elementary years, the garden-themed crib and the pink horse comforter. In my mind I catch a glimpse of the picture books that used to line a bookshelf and scatter across the floor. Knuffle Bunny, Little Pea, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. When was the last time a child sat on my lap, listening to those well-worn tales?
Today the toys and books and hand-me-down clothes have been replaced by a stack of carboard boxes, taped and labeled and waiting to board the U-Haul. Just a desk is left standing, on top of which sits a heated terrarium for Friedrich, our sixth-grader’s gecko. Friedie will have to travel safely in the minivan, to the new house, to a new room, where it’s time to build new memories as a family.
I’ve been wanting to move for so long, I hardly took the time to realize what I’d be leaving behind.
A lifetime of memories for our daughters—that’s what this house amounts to. They’ve never known any other home. We brought them here from the hospital. It’s where they learned to walk and talk and spin cartwheels in the yard. It’s where we said bedtime prayers and watched Disney movies and lit dozens of birthday candles.
And now it’s time to say goodbye. Not to the memories—those I’ll store in my heart, and in a dozen Snapfish photo books if I ever get around to finishing them. But really we’re bidding farewell to an entire phase of family life. This launching space from which we raised two daughters into tweendom and beyond. And the nostalgia hits my gut like a sucker punch.
The next house, we expect, will see the opposite end of two childhoods. The part where our girls are in high school and apply to colleges and drive their own U-Hauls to first homes, new spaces, eager to launch the lives God planned for them—the ones my husband and I have so sincerely tried to nurture these last fifteen years and counting.
We raise them up to let them go.
And there’s nothing like a house move that will bring a mom face-to-face with that truth.
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
Time is charging forward whether I like it or not. And I want to embrace it while I’ve got the chance.
So I’m resolving to drop my task list from time to time and plop on my teenager’s bed to ask what she’s up to—and truly listen to the answer.
I’m going to crack open more board games and fill my younger one’s tank with a round of Farkle and Poetry for Neanderthals.
I’m going to fill our garage freezer with frozen pizzas and Bubbl’r and ice cream bars from Costco so there’s always room for hungry friends stopping over after school. The new house is right across the street from our daughter’s high school, after all. Let our home be a place of ping-pong and joy.
I pray everyone who enters will find Jesus in us.
That’s what makes a house a home.
Blessings to you, sweet friends, whether you’re chasing littles or raising teenagers like me. Whether you’re newly married, single, Grandma or Dad. (Yes, some men read my blog, and I’m glad you’re here.) May we all spend more time loving people where we are, writing new memories while we cherish the old, and praising God for the gifts of this life. They’re everywhere, if we just open our eyes to find them.
P.S. Join me on Focus on the Family tomorrow! I’ll be chatting with Jim Daly and John Fuller on the daily broadcast all about how to love our people with intention. Watch for an email with a link to listen when the episode goes live in the morning (Wednesday, January 26).