In my favorite picture (which I still can’t find) I’m standing on dirt at the far southwest corner of what someday would be our basement in the home we built for our family. It’s game day and the yellow Oregon Duck shirt that’s nearly too small is pulling tightly against my growing belly. My arms are stretched wide and I’m wearing the confident grin of someone with big plans. You can see the excitement and anticipation on my face. It also happened to be the day I felt Ava move inside me for the first time. I would have never predicted the significance of this day to me now. This was the first of many beginnings for us in this place; we have all grown up here.
First days of life, including first steps, first words and first birthdays. So much that is good from the life we’ve built took place in the home we sold this Spring. BBQ’s, birthdays, baby showers, and anniversaries, there are so many memories of gathering with family and friends. We grew up in the country so building our family home on 5 acres outside of town was a dream for both of us. I am grateful to have lived this dream for the past eight years. The best of what we built here was going with us.
In May, we moved from the country to a neighborhood in town. Choosing to downsize was the right decision for our family and through the myriad of emotion, we continue to learn more about each other and ourselves as we get adjusted. Big change brings on opportunity for growth and new beginnings.
I’m learning that when we make choices with a long-term perspective, sometimes we experience short-term discomfort. This is all part of the process.
I’m learning to trust this discomfort as temporary transition and part of the story.
I’m learning to love the whole story, even the unplanned parts.
I’m learning that when we recognize what was once important to us is no longer and adjust accordingly, it’s a game changer.
I’m learning that the freedom of time to travel and be together matters most to me right now.
There was resistance from me at first to keep it real, for myself, for the kids. Resistance to experiencing all of the emotion.
I’m learning that as parents we do this, we protect them from feeling sadness and disappointment because we don’t want to fail them. I think we protect ourselves from this too.
I’m learning that they need permission and time to adjust and this doesn’t much differ from what we need too.
In Ava’s last few weeks of school, amid the packing and unpacking, we decided to hold off on breaking the news that she wouldn’t be returning to the kids she’d gone to school with since she was three. It felt like too much for her, for all of us.
This unspoken knowledge between us likely contributed to many difficult days and nights we experienced in the new house. She knew all along what was coming and was waiting for us to share it with her. The fresh glaring lime green paint on her bedroom walls speak of my motivation to make everything better than her old room. It didn’t work. Not for her and not for me.
Two nights before the last day at her old school felt like breaking point for us. Desperate to interrupt the painful pattern of evening routine, I threw out my entire plan and told her everything. As I crawled in bed with her to say goodnight, I began asking her about what she missed most from living in our old house. It felt wreck less and weak in the moment but for the first time in weeks I felt her soften and open to me. I listened to her as she described in finite detail, all of the things she missed most about the comfort of her old room. We sat in the sadness of the old and familiar together and I shared what I was missing most too. For the first time in weeks I felt like we understood each other.
I’m learning that when we come as we are, it levels the playing field.
I’m learning that we want more than they need.
We began building something new together that night. We talked about going to a new school, making new friends, living in a new house and all that is scary and exciting about the unknown.
Neighbors to play with, a short walk to school and the park, family bike rides, so many new adventures for us to experience. We began making plans on how we were going to build a new home for ourselves here.