A New Family, a New Home, a New Year


As we approached our closing date on the old house, I was taking one last walk through all the rooms by myself, while my husband finished packing up the car and my four-year-old dawdled around him. It’s always a bit emotional when I move out of a home, remembering the sweet memories and dreams that came to fruition within those walls.

This was the seventh place I called “home” throughout my life so far. It was an especially emotional move this time around, leaving the first house my husband and I owned.

This was the home that heard our first serious whispers of choosing the adoption route to grow our family. These walls saw our first child come home, followed by the ups and downs of the attachment process as we grew to really become a family. The dreams. The heartache. The growth. The screw-ups. The forgiveness. The love. All tucked between those walls.

My sister and I both have a goodbye tradition ever since we were young, from when our family moved to a new house for the first time:

On our way out the door of the old house, we kiss our palm and press it to the wall. Comforting us when we were little, our dad had told us: that way, the house will forever have our kiss goodbye. Even when the walls are painted over, the kiss will always be there.

This may sound even sillier than the goodbye kiss, but I decided to also embrace the Japanese KonMari method of letting go of items and actually voice my thankfulness for the roles each room played. For example, the extra bedroom giving out-of-town family and friends a place to rest, and the dining area providing moments of community and connection over a meal. It felt like I wasn’t doing the method correctly, because it became almost unbearable with these memories and sentimentality flooding in. I found myself second-guessing our decision to move…

Until I heard the words,

“I hate you”

flow out of my mouth so quickly I couldn’t even stop them. It surprised me.

Growing up, my parents always told us kids, “Hate is a strong word.” As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really come to understand the weight of that word, so I’m not one to frequently throw it around in my language.

When I realized those words came out of my mouth, I was jolted to the present moment, standing in front of our master bath shower made of tile and grout. The weight of sadness tumbled off my chest and bubbled up into laughter. I’m so relieved I don’t have to keep up with cleaning that dang grouted shower anymore. Way too high maintenance for this girl! I’m taking those memories of scrubbing and holding my breath against bleach fumes to get that devil grout clean again, and I’m moving forward. I’m so over it, and gleefully beyond that phase of life. I voiced my thankfulness for helping us learn another bullet point to add to our “Never Again in a House” list!

This gave me a clearer head and better perspective as I approached my most favorite space in that house: my son’s room.

It turned out adorably; I love how we painted the walls to match the safari valance we made before he came home from Korea. But remembering our first year as a family — it was difficult. Life didn’t start feeling normal as we now know it until right around a year of being together.

We came out of that transition so much stronger. He truly is our baby, and it feels like we are finally his real parents, instead of imposters. We had growing pains and struggles as we learned about our son and how to be Mommy and Daddy to him. He was such a brave boy through it all but jumping into toddler years as a first-time parent is no joke! Not to mention, he spoke a whole different language when we brought him home.

So, if I’m honest, I have some hard memories tied to this bedroom…the days of tremendous grief and resisting my attempts at soothing him as he wanted his foster mama to be the one tucking him in…my moments of gut-wrenching uncertainty, worry, and questioning if we’d ever figure things out as his new, forever parents. Of course, eventually I realized you never really know what you’re doing, but knowing your child helps, which comes with time.

So even though the walls I was standing in is where my first angel laid his sweet head and slept away all… no, some… of his grief on hard days (and typical overtired toddler moods), I’m ready to let it go. I’m ready for a fresh start together. I think we all are. Besides, now that we know our son more personally, this room theme is so not his style! Giraffes are my favorite, but the thought of letting my son choose his own theme that HE likes in our next home makes me even more thrilled!

The reality of this decision to move is that our home, as great as it served us in the past, just doesn’t fit our needs and desires anymore. It’s just a house. It’s just a mix of drywall, nails, wood…and annoying grout. For several reasons, we couldn’t stay where we were and keep pressing forward. We can make another house our home for the next season of our life. My people are my most treasured possessions, so we’ll journey on together to the next mix of a house and see what we can learn, dream, achieve, and grow there.

This is the peace that allowed me to wipe the tears from my eyes, close the door behind me, and look ahead to those cute faces eagerly waiting in the car for me.

Looking toward the New Year, it’s typical to set goals and a vision for what the next twelve months hold. This time around, I want to challenge myself to think about what in our home or lifestyle is no longer fitting our needs or doesn’t help with our goals, hopes, and dreams. I usually face the New Year with more to-do lists, but perhaps it’s time to reevaluate what’s taking up physical, mental, or emotional space already, and consider letting go of some things. It doesn’t have to be as big as a house but letting go instead of adding in can be just as effective to your health, home, and purpose.