Of all the topics I could go on about to a psychiatrist, real estate has never been on my top ten list of neurosis. However, now that I stand at the brink of a major domicile decision, I want to cry out “Is there a doctor in the house? I need to talk about my home!”
The precipice in question is the decision of what to do with our house, the one we bought three months before we had our first child, the one my husband built a picket fence around to keep children in and evil out, the one in which we have grieved and celebrated, together, for more than two decades. Previously overflowing with family energy, it will soon become very quiet once our youngest leaves for college; that day will arrive sooner than I could have possibly imagined when we moved in.
I might babble to the dear doctor about my happy childhood and tell of the sweet nostalgia that fills me up whenever I visit my out -of -state mother, two or three times a year. Witnessing her joy when she has her complete family in residence defines maternal love to me.
But I wonder, is it our duty to our kids to keep our house exactly as it is for them to return home to, and, someday, to bring their future spouses and children? Just like our parents did?
My widowed mother loves her home of forty-five years, especially when it is filled with her children and grandchildren. But as our time together ends, I wave goodbye to an eighty-five year old woman whose house fits her a bit like an overcoat a size too big. My heart breaks and a have a knot in my throat as we drive away. Back home, I fret about her wellbeing but understand that she has no plans to live anywhere else unless and until her health forces that decision.
My mother-in-law felt the same way throughout her ninety-one years, the last ten of which she also spent alone.
I have loved making our house-into-a–home, along with my husband, and I will be the first one to reach for the Kleenex on the day we move out. What I want, though, is to have a chance to create a second family home, also with my husband, while we are still “young” (don’t laugh, kids) enough to manage the transition.
So as I wind down my chat with my imaginary therapist, I know I am dealing with guilt, and I appreciate this session.
“Doc, but if we promise to create space for our progeny and to, somehow, embrace all future additions to the family, do you think they will forgive us for wanting to move to a house that works best for a two rather than a four? If not, are you taking new patients?”