Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Remember the last time you moved into a new place? You were probably filled with thoughts about how to make that house (or apartment or whatever) into your home. You were thinking about wall colors, furniture, family photos, and everything else that transforms a house from a blocky frame of rooms into a comfortable refuge from the world.

We are in the opposite place right now. My realtor father has told me that the best way to sell a house is to remove all those homey wall colors, picture frames, and personal mementos. When buyers look at your house, they want to see their home, not yours. They want to envision what they can do with it, not what you have already done. As great as you may be in decorating and creating a home for your family, you are not expected to have it figured out for everyone who visits your home with the intent to buy.

So it is now with us. On Christmas we painted over our kids' aquamarine bathroom walls that had sea life handpainted on it for the past 15 or so years. Right now, I’m letting the second coat of paint dry in Charles’ room where there used to be stripes in the Seattle Mariners’ colors of dark blue and teal. I’ve slowly been packing up Erin’s and Charles’ bedrooms and will soon attack the playroom. We are de-homifying our house.

Peter and I are okay with this process because we know of the adventures that lie ahead for us. We already have another house that is becoming our home. Our middle daughter, however, is really struggling. For her, the only child left at home, this is a difficult transition that she prefers not to be a part of. She watches as we paint over the fish she has stared at since she was a baby. She sees me remove family photos and pack them away. Her house is becoming less welcoming and warm to her by every sunset.

I have agreed to let Allison’s room be the last to be transformed. It is painted in two shades of purple, so it really needs to be transformed. I, however, am loathe to kick her out of her loved bedroom full of her life’s knickknacks, memories, and comfort. Much of what she has won’t matter to her in five years, but it all matters so deeply to her now. Come June, that little girl of mine will graduate from high school and then pack all of her belongings into boxes headed for the East Coast. Yes, she has a place in our home in Maryland, but it isn’t a place filled with memories. It will only have her stuff.

This is what is hard for me right now. I’m okay with moving me, but I hurt every time I do something that involves moving the kids. A child’s pain is always shared by her mother, even if not to the same degree. The idea that I am voluntarily inflicting this pain on my child makes it all the worse. We continue to move forward in this venture, but it is not without remorse or even some tears.