The girls are back to school after more than two weeks off. The constant noise of laughter, arguments loud thumps from couch gymnastics and Justin Bieber lyrics from Wii Dance Party have all ceased. It’s so peaceful. Outside of Radiohead playing through the speakers in my office, and the keystrokes as I type, my house is very still. And if you would have asked me yesterday, I would have told you I wanted them back in class, more than anything, that they were too restless and starting to get destructive and bored.
Cate deciding her tights were a canvas to write on in ink and marker (which ended up on her legs, of course), and leaving a trail of Rice Krispies everywhere she went. I feel like I vacuumed the house twice a day when they were home phantom piles and messes popping up every time I turned around. It was a second job just keeping up with them and their busy tendencies.
More than once I found myself exclaiming, “What is this?” Pointing to something on the floor, counter top or other surface area only to receive casual and unknowing shrugs from one or both of the girls. I have spent much of the last two weeks covered in make-up from Cate’s constant make-overs and purple, orange, green, and yellow splatters cover my fingernails from last night’s “manicure.” I’ve read more books and put in Disney DVD’s, organized play dates, thrown together lunches on the fly, and helped reorganize all the Christmas toys in already over-filled rooms. The constant motion, chaos, and noise is now still. And though I can breathe, I miss them already.
I made a big decision recently; well a series of them actually. For one, I’m selling my house. My beloved house on the corner lot that I fell in love with when I first walked through the garage door before it was even finished six years ago. A new home, never lived in, that had so much space for us to fill. I remember seeing the light fixtures that I would have picked myself, that hung from the unpainted ceiling, the gorgeous granite counter tops, the warm fireplace in the back of the family room, and the closet that could finally hold the mass of clothes I’ve gotten over the years. The decision has been on my mind and I’ve finally made the decision. Despite waning property values and the work required to make it happen, its time.
So late last night and early this morning, I’ve been wandering room to room, taking notes on what needs fixing, painted, cleaned, and stored. And each mark on the wall, each divot in the wood, even the stains on the floor have a story, and the fullness and history that has unfolded here nearly overwhelms me. Putting old toys in boxes, finding photographs from when Cate couldn’t even walk, and when Tay had all her baby teeth. I think of the Christmases, the driveway fireworks in the summer, the Easter egg hunts, and the many nights spent with the girls under this roof and even alone after the divorce. The laughter that seems to saturate the walls, and the joy that seems to make everything brighter and warmer. We brought this house to life. The sunrises just outside the front door, countless meals shared at the table, the grilling in the driveway, and sprinklers in the backyard, the way that this place became more than a building we shared, it became our safe return and anchor. This was the first home I ever really made my own.
Even the yard, the trees I planted, the bushes I tended, and the yard I mowed (maybe not enough – sorry neighbors.) And it tugs at my heart, but not with sadness I realize… but with gratitude. And the gravitational force I feel isn’t pulling me back towards all that has been… it’s letting me go into what’s unknown ahead. I can cut the ties and not feel like I’m losing something I had because it was something we created ourselves. There was no meaning here, except what we gave it.
I realize that the chaos of working full time in this house with these two incredible girls is what has come to define my life. And as I struggled to determine whether or not I wanted to keep the house, this morning has made it all too clear that I’m making the right choice. Even the quiet has given me space to think, something I’ve done a lot of in the last few weeks. Though the girls have been raised almost exclusively here, a house filled with warmth, love, and memories, we’re ready to lift our roots of these walls. The home was never about this address anyway. 2013 is about moving past the recovery of a past life and building into a brand new one. That will come with some painful growing pains. It’s shedding the things that no longer have significance or don’t bring something positive and meaningful to a life that deserves all three. It’s not being afraid to venture outside what is familiar.
The silence is heavy today and makes the decision feel more real than ever in my mind. I’m realizing in the void today that I’m better for having the chaos of my life, even on the days when it makes me want to pull out my hair. And though my girls will be coming back into my arms this afternoon, there is an emptiness here without them. Not in space, but in how the space feels when they are gone. Because they are my home… and long after these walls belong to someone else and we’ve gone, we’ll never lose what was contained here, because we’ll bring it with us. We’re not leaving a home behind, we’re just moving on to a new one.