You know that Miranda Lambert song, The House That Built Me?
(PSA: it’s beautiful…listen to it if you haven’t)
I had that house as a child. The one that built me. The one where I would sit next to the kitchen vent in the winter with my knees tucked under my t-shirt as a kid to feel the heat. The one where I spent countless hours on the porch. The one where I would dance in the basement in my leotard and my big sister’s red lipstick while nobody was looking. It was everything one would hope for in a house that built them, and not one part of me takes that for granted.
Chasing a Dream
Ever since I became a parent 11 years ago, I have been chasing the dream of creating a house like that for my own children, and for the grownup me. A house that would build them. A house that would continue to build me.
When I bought a single family home just over two years ago, I thought I had found it. The ever-so-idealized Forever Home. The one where my kids would play basketball in the driveway, have parties in the basement, sneak boyfriends in and out of, leave from to go to college, and come back to during breaks.
…it would not be our Forever Home. And it would not be the house that built us. Not in the way I had dreamed.
…it turned out to be the house where our family broke. The house where my marriage imploded just a couple of months after buying. The house where we had to sit at a table, tears streaming, to tell our children that we were getting a divorce.
When Life Crumbles
When my ex-husband and I decided on divorce, I was still determined to keep this Forever Home. Not for me, but for my kids. They deserved it. But reality is a real beast sometimes, and alas I could not keep the house. And so we sold it and I moved into a rental townhouse down the road.
As with all death, divorce and the subsequent sale of my house has, at times, felt like an endless sea of loss. It’s not just the loss of what was, but also the loss of what I had hoped would come.
Gone. Dead. No more.
And that is very SAD. So sad that I have cried many a large bucket of tears.
And yet, here I am, in my new space. Alive, learning, growing, marching onward and upward.
What I’ve finally come to realize is that every home my kids and I have been in are the houses that are building us.
I can give myself the permission to grieve my Forever Home and the in-tact family unit I hoped would occupy it. AND at the same time, I can acknowledge that with each of the homes in which I’ve lived, I’ve built a part of myself.
In my first townhouse of 12 years, I made and executed dreams as a new wife and mother. I was forced to say my first hardest goodbye when I lost my first baby, my son, Marco. I mothered my girls, Lucia and Annabelle. I made lifelong friends. I built shelves! So many shelves.
It was the house that built me.
In my single family Forever Home, I learned that my world could crumble and that I’d survive. That I could walk through fire and come out stronger. I learned the art of letting go, even if it was through kicking and screaming. I learned that forever doesn’t always mean forever, and that’s ok. I was forced to say my second and third hardest goodbyes, to my husband and to our house.
It was the house that built me.
In my new townhouse, I’m working to become a better version of myself. I’m raising amazing humans who are more fascinating to me by the day. I’m leaning into the concept of a Temporary Home, as I know I won’t be here forever. I’m learning who I am and what I need.
It’s the house that is building me.
Through life, we create idealized versions of what we want, what we should do, what we should give to our children. And that’s all good and well, and sometimes works out swimmingly.
But sometimes things don’t go according to plan, and we have to shift. And just as there’s beauty in life going according to plan, there’s also beauty in the pain that come with loss, grief, shifting, and rebirth.
I now know and accept that there will never be one single house that built me. All of the spaces in which we live over a life time build us. And we build ourselves in them.