We just moved. Bill and I bought our first house, on Eula Court, when Jacob was thirteen months old. He learned to walk in the dining room shortly after we moved in. Jacob is now ten. The people who owned the Eula house before us had a nine-year-old when they moved out.
“It goes so fast,” Julie, the previous owner, told me at the closing. I smiled at her, not really believing. Nothing about babyhood seemed to go fast to me. At the time, I was still waiting for Jacob to start sleeping through the night. At the time, it felt like I would always be the mother of a baby. I would always be in my twenties. Thirty was still far off, and school-aged children, further still.
Shortly after we moved into Eula, I found a pair of little boy’s shoes in the basement. Julie must have forgotten them. They would fit Jacob at three or four, I decided, and packed them away to save. By the time I re-discovered them, Jacob had long outgrown them. I put them aside to save for Liam, and the same thing happened. I began to understand that Julie had had a point.
Selling our Eula Court house was as much a milestone for me as any graduation ever was. While our toddler, Jamie, keeps me connected to the little-kid world I’ve come to know so well, Jacob is pulling me hard into the next phase of parenting. Selling our first house and moving to this one was an acknowledgement of growth. Two boys and a girl in one room was fine for awhile, but it wouldn’t have been for long. I can’t help but note that while all three of our kids learned to walk in our Eula Court house, they’ll likely learn to drive while living in this one. Our basement here still has plenty of Fischer Price toys in it, just as our last one did, but it also has a mini-pool table and a ping-pong table that show how our children’s play is changing.
While I can quickly tick off a list of things the boys learned to do in our first house — from going on the potty to long division, it’s what Bill and I learned that makes me even more aware of the passage of time. Some things we learned on purpose, like when we checked out the book How to Build a Deck from the library, convinced that if we could read, we could build. Some things we learned by uncomfortable necessity, like when Bill suddenly lost his job, and I had to change my plan to be a stay-at-home mom and go to work full time for a while. Most things, we learned gradually. Gradually, we learned the rhythms of marriage; the endurance needed for parenthood, the ebb and the flow of life as a family — a family first of three, then four, then five. We moved into our current home knowing more than we could have imagined when we moved into our last — not just about plastering, plumbing and painting, but also about ourselves as a couple. We are quicker to laugh at ourselves than we were moving in to our first house. We are more confident in who we are as a partnership, who we are professionally, who we are as parents. We know more a little more about where we’re heading in life, yet we have also had enough unforeseen detours to know anything is possible — that derailment often happens when you’re chugging along quickly.
Kari and Drew, the couple we sold our Eula Court home to, are so young and cute they look like they stepped off the top of a wedding cake. They are eager and excited and have a dog who loves the yard where Jacob threw a thousand football passes, where Liam spent hours making forts out of sticks, where both boys, two foster children, and then Jamie, learned the rule that no one is allowed to eat the sandbox sand, tasty as it might appear. To Drew and Kari, I’m sure that our mid-thirties life with three kids, homework, soccer practice and little time to worry about the towels on the bathroom floor, seems unbelievable far-off. I didn’t even try to explain that it’s closer than they might think.
Over the summer, as I waited for the closing dates for the two homes, I was torn between peering ahead and glancing back. I sat on my Eula Court porch and drank in the memories of our first home — the chubby baby cheeks, the mashed banana coated bibs, and the walks with the stroller that were a part of our days there. Swinging on the porch swing, I looked with wonderment at our future in our new home, taking a guess at what that future may be, but not knowing. Not really. Caught between two houses—between our past and our future — I was able only to blink back my tears and give thanks for all that had been, and pray for all that would be.