When we bought this house, I called it our forever home. This was six years ago, when Catie was 3 and the twins were 1. We said this house would hold all the kids’ childhood memories. Teen years and first boyfriends and girlfriends and hundreds of sleep-overs would happen between these walls. When we were empty-nesters, Mike and I would decide to move or we live here forever so the kids could come back to their childhood home. Maybe they would even want to get married in the backyard. The thrill of this big, new house for our little family was so intoxicating, anything felt possible.
Even though we loved our new home, I wasn’t sure we would stay here that long. So much could change: we might have another baby (we did), Mike might get a promotion (he did), we might not love the school district (we don’t), and we might outgrow this house (and we have). All these changes meant we would probably want to move. Why pay our neighborhood’s school taxes if the kids were in private school? Could four kids fit into three bedrooms? What if we could afford a bigger, fancier house, could we still be content with this?
Our track record has been to move about every five years, which was this year. Our usual timeline for a house was coming to an end, just as a our neighborhood’s home prices shot up. Suddenly our neighbors were selling their houses for almost twice what they had paid for them. Everyone was moving to sprawling homes a little further away in the country. We started to realize we could move into a house with more bedrooms, without school taxes, with acres of land and a resort-style pool.
Meanwhile, our forever home was showing its age. The white paint on the baseboards was peeling. The more the kids grew, the more our kitchen seemed to shrink. And the bedroom configuration meant two of our kids would always have to share a room. Every time we visited our friends’ homes with lake views, media rooms featuring their own popcorn machines, and four garages, our own house felt that much more cramped. Maybe it was time for a new forever home!
But somewhere in those whole process, we did a gut-check and realized we didn’t want to leave this old house. We love our neighbors. The kids are content, and they don’t realize they might need a bigger backyard or a garage for their bikes and scooters.
Surprisingly, we are content too. Or at least we’re learning to try for contentment.
Maybe this is age, or wisdom, or both. But somehow, after many moves, many stressful seasons of restlessness, we’ve learned moving won’t give us what we deeply want and very badly need: peace.
We’ve moved to find peace before, to find shinier identities in a new house. Never has the new house delivered. As soon as we closed on a gorgeous new home, I can guess what would happen: those new mahogany cabinets would look dated, the backyard still wouldn’t be big enough, and we wouldn’t pop nearly as much popcorn as we had hoped to.
We’re learning the answer for peace comes with changes much more difficult than moving…. deeper cuts in our schedule to nurture our family and our faith; and real honest answers about what a house can provide and what it can’t.
So, for now, we’re trying to choose contentment. We’re passing on the need for more, more, more.
For now, we are trying to make this forever home exactly that.