Our house recently went under contract. We’ve lived here for a little over nine years. It’s been on the market for awhile and we’ve had lots of traffic – mornings, evenings, and weekends. Although I do draw the line on an 8:30 a.m. showing on Saturday morning (no, you may not show my house unless your client is able to overlook the fact that we are all still in bed sleeping.) I receive phone calls that go something like this:

Real estate agent: “Mrs. Hood, My name is [realtor]. I’d like to show your house this afternoon between [specific 2-hour window]. Would that be convenient?”

What I say: “Oh yes, that will be fine. Thank you for calling. If you would please give us a call when you leave the house you’re showing before ours, I will round up my family so we can be out of your way. Thank you so much.”

What I’m thinking: “dear Lord, is there any way I can get the dishes washed and put away, the beds made, the floors vacuumed, and the smell of last night’s bacon out of the house in two hours????”

It really hasn’t been that bad. The downside is we have two very active children who invite friends over after school several days a week. Between football, cheer leading, and baseball our house looks like a sports equipment and spirit wear store. Challenging does not begin to describe my attitude towards keeping the house ‘show ready’. The upside is everyone in the house has learned what their duties are when we get ‘the phone call’. We go into action like little army ants planning our strategy for a summer attack on a family picnic.

The dilemma comes now as I begin to reduce nine years of our lives to boxes. My youngest son learned to walk in this house; my oldest son got his first car while we lived here; my daughter became a competition cheerleader and survived her first crush (not at the same time, thank you very much). School papers and projects, daily writing assignments from when my children were in kindergarten, random broken things stuffed into the back of a drawer (how did this end up in here? I ask myself), gift receipts from Christmases long past, cards for every possible occasion, and dried up homemade play-dough that could easily be used as a hockey puck or murder weapon – take your pick.

Admittedly, it is frustrating. It seems the more I pack the more I find that needs to be packed. Some things are easy: the Christmas china which comes out the day after Thanksgiving and is put away on New Year’s Day; the multitude of extra blankets and sheets I keep on hand because – actually, I don’t know why I have so many; picture frames that don’t have pictures in them yet; and a host of recipe books that I haven’t opened in years, mainly because my brother is a chef and when I want to try something new, I call him.

There’s also a wonderful feeling that comes from going through all the stuff of life. No doubt about it, memories are one of the great joys of digging around in drawers and cabinets. A first tooth; pictures from vacation or a backyard cookout; birthday and anniversary cards; movie ticket stubs; DVDs from when my kids were toddlers; a special piece of jewelry. Christmas mornings and letters from Santa, birthday celebrations, Super Bowl parties, and Friday night pizza have all made their mark on our home. Packing all the things we will take with us as we transition is a beautiful reminder that we have built a life. It’s real, it’s tangible, I have proof!

My daughter decided to give away most of her substantial stuffed animal collection to our local Good Will store. At first, I questioned whether she would regret that decision. But her comment to me settled it. She said, “Mom, I know all the names I gave them. I don’t need to have them anymore to remember how much I loved them.” Wow. If this were a movie, the previous scene would have played out something like this:

Mom, looking sentimental while fidgeting back and forth on her feet, questions daughter’s decision to give away her stuffed animal collection.

Daughter, dropping her shoulders and tilting her head, makes profound statement regarding said animals.

Mom stares blankly, realizing daughter is light-years ahead of her when it comes to perspective.

For my son, this is a wild, new, wonderful adventure. He has willingly trekked around with us as we scope out new places and is careful to find something good to say until he can confirm our opinion. Then the truth comes out. “Whew! I was hoping you would hate that one. I felt like I had to squish my shoulders together just to walk down the hall!” LOL. He is forever my thinker, processor, and balancer. He wants to make sure everyone is good before he tells you what he’s really thinking. Once he knows he’s in safe water, though, hold on to your hat. He’s gonna’ let you have it with both barrels.

Suffice it to say we are approaching this new chapter with sentiment, sweat, and a little apprehension (couldn’t think of an ‘s’ word to go there. I hate it when that happens!) I know that we will find just the right place, at just the right time. I have no doubt that after a few home cooked meals, some shared laughter, a family celebration or two, and a few of my children’s friends over for a spend the night party, our new house will become home. And I’m reminded that as long as we’re a family, it doesn’t matter where we transition to.

What matters is that we do it together.

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