By the time you read this, I will be the proud and terrified owner of a new, old home. Keys in hand, movers hired, packing begun.
This is not the first move I’ve lived through on this blog. I’ve averaged 1.67 years in each lease I’ve signed since hitting the second half of my twenties, so what makes this experience unique is not the act of moving, but the act of committing. My whole life I’ve been a serial monogamist when it came to homes – we moved every few years when I was a kid, and I moved every few months from the time I was eighteen until right around the time I finished grad school. Over time, I stopped kidding around, moved from casual dating to accumulating furniture, from always having one foot out the door to leaving that exit just a tiny bit ajar. And with each move since getting pregnant my desire to block the gates and seal myself in has grown. It seems now the magnitude of the memories formed in each successive living space are too precious to see lost among boxes and luggage. I don’t want any more moments to fall into that vast lost and found of all my former lives. It took some time, but I’m finally ready to commit.
I’ve loved this house that I’m now preparing to leave. I’ve loved my morning runs toward the sunrise with the mountains at my shoulder. I’ve loved listening to birds on the front porch with my daughter, staring up at the trees through my window in those oh so rare moments of a quiet, pretending to cook while watching the sunset through the kitchen windows. In this house, I’ve grown as my daughter has grown. I’m radically different than I was when we moved in two years ago, and she is gloriously more of who she is bound to become. My marriage has deepened, my friendships have shifted, my career has become more complex. And most importantly, my relationship with my daughter has developed into a closeness that grows more nuanced and more intimate by the day.
I’ve aged a lot in a short time – motherhood will do that to you – and this house has been witness to all of it. This house quickly became my home, but it’s never actually been my house, aside from a scanned piece of paper and monthly rent payments that keep the charade going. And so for all the attachment I might feel and all the nostalgia that might hold me, I know it’s time to move on. It’s time to commit to even more expansion, even more permanence than this house can possibly hold.
I feel much the same way about the upcoming shift in my role as mother. There are no moments more full of joy and perfection than when I’m able to be fully present with my daughter, there is no relationship more satisfying to me than what I continue to form with her. And yet for all this beauty, I know that there is more yet to learn, more love yet to share.
As I start the weeks long process of sorting through clothes and books and linens and toys, records and photos and knick knacks and all the odds and ends you accumulate when you pretend you’ll be living in the same house until the end of time, it’s no longer just as simple as deciding what stays and what goes. It’s about transitioning to a new life with what will be a new family configuration, and thinking about what that will look like, how it might feel, what might make it more comfortable.
As I box up our life in this house, I’m in so many ways boxing up these last heavenly days of my daughter as my single child, my singular concern, my most significant source of joy. In so many ways I’m boxing up my last precious moments of her as my baby, my toddler, my tiny precious girl. Even before the slowly approaching birth, the new house will immediately be a reflection of the coming changes to our family – there will be an empty nursery waiting to be nested, and there will be a big girl bedroom with new big kid furniture for my walking, talking, singing, dancing, nearly reading, nearly grown up girl. The reconfiguration our family is experiencing will be physically manifested in fully reconfigured surroundings. And for all the excitement, there is more than a little bit of fear.
I’ve been thinking all along that the fear underpinning my anticipation of this move has been about the move itself (Can we afford this much house? Are we really adult enough about our lives to be homeowners? Can we really handle this level of commitment?), but I realize now that I’m not afraid in the slightest about the move. What’s truly unnerving has nothing at all to do with where we lay our heads at night. I fear that I’m losing my little girl. I fear that the infinite nature of love for our children may, in fact, be limited by the finite boundaries of life, all those awful realities of time and space – I fear that in all the expansion of love I may end up collapsing the foundation of what I already have. How can I possibly open my arms to another child without inadvertently loosening the embrace of my daughter?
This fear has held me back from a wholehearted embrace of my pregnancy, and it has held me back from a belief that my life can make room for more, that there is room in my heart and in my world for all of these dreams to be real. What will I do with all of this love? How can I survive the weight of all this joy? These are silly questions to ask, I know, and I know the best I can do is to live the incredible answers.