I am a woman divided. With the kids leaving home, I have had a hankering to sell our home. I have been thinking that we could get a smaller home with a smaller yard in a more walkable neighbourhood. I have been thinking that I would feel less lonely staying by myself in a small cozy home than rattling around in a big empty house. It would lessen our ecological footprint. There would be less house to clean and a smaller yard to maintain. I have been thinking about this for a few years; thinking that we would do it as soon as my youngest leaves home for university.
But as that time draws near, I feel more ambivalent. I look around the house and see all of the work we have done on the house. We renovated the basement; retiled the roof, replaced the air conditioner and the furnace; installed energy-efficient windows, sliding doors and toilets; replaced the bathtubs, the rugs, and the flooring in the kitchen. My stomach sinks when I think about leaving a home into which we have invested so much time, energy and money.
When I am thinking with my heart, I see all of the living that has gone on inside this house. I think of family dinners at the kitchen table, thanksgiving meals with extended family, meals shared with friends, birthdays celebrated, Christmas mornings, Easter hunts. I think of Dan working in the basement and me working upstairs. I see the four of us crowded into our bed reading each night together. I remember the first day we brought Sam, our dog, home from the pound; the day we introduced Sam to our kitten, Cocoa.
This house has been well used; each space holds a story. When we moved here 13 years ago, there were eight kids on the street in the same age range; six kids from three other homes and our two. These kids have painted pictures in our kitchen, built go-carts in our garage, made whirlpools in our above-ground pool, played school under our basement stairs, made chalk pictures on our driveway, played road hockey on the street in front of our house. These kids, who once required feeding, hugs and bandages have grown into young men and women who tower over me; people who drive; young adults who are heading out into the world.
As the spring unfolds, and the yard comes back to life, I think about all of the hours I have spent in the garden; weeding, moving and trimming bushes, planting and transplanting flowers, spreading mulch, watering flowers, and mowing the lawn. I think about how peaceful and beautiful our yard is. I think about mornings sitting by our water garden and summer evenings swinging in the hammock.
I have been in such as rush to leave this house, this yard, this neighbourhood. In my desire to control the fall that is coming, I have not thought about what I would be sacrificing. Do I really think the loss of our child-rearing years could be softened by leaving the house in which we were a family? Would it be so much easier to start a new phase of our lives in a new home? Or would I mourn the loss of this home into which we have put so much of ourselves; a home that evokes so many memories? A wise friend once told me that if I don’t know what to do, maybe it is not time to decide.