Even though we were ecstatic to be finally moving on from the small apartment my husband, six-month-old and I had clearly outgrown, I was surprised by how much emotion I felt doing our final walk-around before handing in our keys. It seemed like the last several years of our life had been reduced to sparse, unfurnished, characterless spaces. Yet in my mind’s eye, I saw something quite different. Something far more remarkable than the drab rooms suggested. Snapshots of our life played out like a movie in my mind. Arriving at the front door with our suitcases, wondering what this new life in America would hold for us. Sitting on the balcony with my husband, watching the beautiful trees outside change with the seasons as we eagerly anticipated the arrival of our first child. I remembered bringing our daughter home from the hospital and into our home for the first time. The long nights nursing in the recliner in her bedroom. Cheering as she crawled down the hallway for the first time. Our humble apartment had become a time capsule, holding our memories within its walls. It was hard to say goodbye.
Fast forward and we are now two years into our ‘forever’ home. Our family has expanded from three to four, and our poor house has been somewhat neglected as we wrestle with life in the trenches of parenthood. Yet this house, too, is telling the next chapter of our story.
Children live here now, and traces of their existence are everywhere.
Dust handprints adorn the windows, miniature steps and stools are tucked into every corner. The yard is cluttered up with bikes and toys. Chores are often abandoned in favor of another story, or a game of ‘hide and seek.’ Yes, it may be a little disheveled and chaotic at times, but our house has become like a scrapbook, collecting little mementos of their childhood with each passing year.
One day, my two girls will be grown. They too will be walking around this house, maybe on a trip home from college or with their own families. The house will likely look very different from the childhood home they remember as it reflects yet another season of our life. What will they see in their mind’s eye when they’re walking through our home then? What memories of their childhood will they see? I hope the dining room will trigger memories of chaotic family mealtimes where we talked loudly and laughed freely. I hope in the playroom they will see the long lazy winter days we spent making lego creations and dressing up as superheroes. I wonder if the old chair will remind them of snuggling up with daddy for story time; or the yard, afternoons spent treasure hunting. Sticks, pinecones, acorns, all carefully carried in their little hands. Precious snapshots, fleeting moments frozen in time, capturing their entire childhood.
Often as moms, we spend so much time fretting about appearances. Is our house large enough, clean enough, stylish enough? Yet your house tells a story – your family’s story.
Let’s not get so fixated on the state of our homes that we miss the story within its walls.
As important as it may seem today, our children are not going to be fondly remembering freshly vacuumed carpets or gleaming baseboards. They will remember, above all, the joy, the love, the time spent with you. Those are the cherished memories that will stand the test of time. Allow yourself to forego the list of chores and spend the extra time with your little ones. Read another story, play one more game. Enjoy the little moments. Sooner than you think the season will change again. Their childhood will be distilled into precious memories, and your house will have a story to tell. What will it be?
A Scottish native, Vicki Bentley currently lives with her husband and two young daughters in Albany, NY. In her ‘free’ time you will find her writing and blogging about life and faith in the trenches of motherhood, usually with a cup of coffee in hand. You can connect with her on Instagram at @purposeful_joy
For May 2018, we are hosting a series on Cherishing Childhood. Check back to read more essays in the series as the month unfolds. If you missed it, check out our completed April series on Intentionally Cultivating Your Family Culture, and don’t miss the photo challenge we’re doing on Instagram for the first two weeks of May!
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