Well, we have been working hard, and believe it or not, it’s only 3 weeks until we move into the new house. (Oh my GOSH). This thought is both exciting and terrifying. As I look around at our house which is becoming increasingly more barren by the second, I can’t help but remember . . .
This is where my water broke as I was leaving for the hospital the night my son was born.
This is where I saw my kids take their first, tentative steps.
This is the kitchen where my food blog was born.
There are so many memories as you pack up a house. Each photograph, knick knack, and piece of furniture has a story, and you are the only one who remembers those stories. Sometimes, in all the flurry of wrapping and packing and taping, it can be easy to lose perspective. It can seem like this arduous process will never end. It can seem like you would do anything just to have your furniture back and have a chair to sit on. It seems like being able to cook a meal in a clean, clutter-free kitchen would be perhaps the best thing ever. It seems like being able to find the cortisone cream to put on the nagging mosquito bite that has been plaguing you all day would feel like an early Christmas gift.
But take a breath. The best things in life take time. They take sacrifice. They take work. This move is just a small bit of what life is like– packing away the old so that new, better things can unfold in the future.
I remember when my parents dropped me off at college my freshman year. I said goodbye and tried not to cry. As they pulled out of sight in the South Carolina dorm parking lot to head back to Pennsylvania, I held it together as long as I could, and then I dropped to my knees and wept. I was so homesick and scared that I didn’t eat for 3 days. I didn’t know where the cafeteria was, and I had no friends to go with.
I replayed all sorts of dramatic scenes in my head, casting myself as the heroine of various tragic stories– me, collapsing in a beautiful, perfect heap on the stairs of the church, becoming an emblem of mercy for all ages. Me, climbing on weakened, brave legs to the top of the campus tower and proclaiming my intentions to keep going, right before I collapsed from exhaustion, dying a hero. Me, dying choking on cafeteria food and changing the dining standards for college students for decades to come. I remember thinking, “I will probably die here, and then they will have to come back and get me.” Bwahaha. Sorry. That oh-so-dramatic teen thinking makes me chuckle, now, but it seemed plausible to my 18 year old mind. 😉
Eventually, as we tend to do with most things in life, I got past my fears. I started making friends. I found the cafeteria at long last. Who knew canned pudding and instant mac and cheese could taste so good? I took classes and did homework and got myself an education. Years passed, and each time the change got a little easier. My college graduation was the proudest day of my life.
When I got my first job as a new teacher, I was petrified. I was 22 years old, and my senior level class included a few 21 year old students. There were 40 students in my class, and only 35 chairs (35 was the state legal limit. haha). If some of my students weren’t sick, I didn’t have enough chairs. I never had enough books for everyone, so I organized the kids to collect recyclables and turn those into books in a local rewards program. We held fundraisers, and talked to private donors, and spent our own money to get books for our classroom. I started bringing several extra sandwiches for lunch, because my students were always hungry. There was such need and such poverty in so many of the homes. It changed my life, forever. I made only $400 a week, and I have no idea how I survived. To this day, I try to be VERY good to my childrens’ teachers at holidays and teacher appreciation events, because I know how much they have to do, with practically zero budget and resources. In my opinion, teachers are the unsung heroes of our era.
When I got married and had my children, I stopped teaching. I was looking forward to the rest and relaxation of staying home with a baby (Bwahaha . . .). I soon realized that having a baby was ANYTHING but restful. Late nights in college blurred and started to look like a walk in the park as I walked the floor, night after night, with a restless baby who fussed and screamed every time I put him down. Two years later, a second, even FUSSIER baby joined her brother. And to this day, that almost 2 year old doesn’t sleep through the night. She believes that sleep is for the weak, and we all wearily acquiesce to her demands.
When people without kids give me judgmental looks in the checkout line, I try to keep a straight face. Did YOU spend the wee hours of the past week doling out cheerios to a chipper little dictator with an agenda to break you through sleep deprivation? Did YOU get asked by a lady at Target if the screaming child in your basket was a Halloween decoration? Did YOU get judgmental remarks and stares from strangers when you opened a juice box before checkout because you just. couldn’t. stand. that. screaming. any. more.
Life is an interesting game. It’s difficult even on a good day, and just as you learn the rules, they seem to shift and change. Such is the nature of the beast. We learn, and we grow, and we adapt. We become better– stronger. We gain and we lose and we do it all over again.
Fall is a season of change. The sweltering summer heat we thought would never loosen its grip begins to relax just a little. The trees start to blush with autumn crimson and allow their leaves to fall (just in time for us to clean the gutters and rake. Yay). The nights become chilly. You break out the scarves and jackets and sweaters and boots. You dream of pumpkins and bonfires and cozy fires. And, if you happen to be me, you try to create supper with no pans, no bakeware, and no countertop to prepare it (I thought we wrapped those vintage Ball jars already? Why are they still sitting on the counter?). But, even in that, we adapt. Somehow, we manage to get the troops fed every night and maintain some small level of sanity as we camp out in our own house. We scratch those mosquito bites, still unable to find the cortisone. And we dream of the day that we will have the luxury of opening the cupboards and seeing food and dishes and . . . ALL OF OUR STUFF inside.
I hope that the new place will be as beautiful as it looks. I hope that soon it will start to feel like an old friend instead of an empty, chilly stranger. I hope that my kids will one day come tearing down the grand staircase on Christmas to a magnificent tree and a crackling fire in the fireplace. I hope that I can turn the backyard into an oasis of flowers and vegetables and lush, green grass.
I hope that it will become our home.
That’s the dream. And it can be easy to lose sight of a dream when all you see in front of you is work. It can be tempting to give up– to say “This is just too hard” and throw in the towel. It can seem like the mounds of paperwork, or bills, or obstacles in life are overwhelming.
But keep going. Keep trying. Keep dreaming.
And before you know it, the seasons of life will change, just as the seasons are changing now– and your hard work will pay off. And you can sit on the proverbial (or literal!) porch with a steaming cup of coffee and say, “I have worked hard. My life is so beautiful, and I wouldn’t change a thing.” And suddenly, right there, you will realize it.
This is it. This is home.
And I’m so very happy.
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