Yesterday afternoon, my mom called while I was waiting in the car line to pick the kids up from school to tell me that someone she knew was interested in looking at our house. She was already planning to see another house on the street at 4:30 and was hoping she could stop by ours afterward.
Since we are moving this weekend, my house was at that moment a wreck of boxes and mess that I hadn't bothered to clean, thinking I'd do it all as I packed and purged the house of junk. But I need to sell my house, so I agreed. I walked in the door at 4:00 and started cleaning. I had the forsight to stop by a convenience store and get the girls a treat, (the boys stay later on Thursdays for piano and computer club, so BD would be picking them up), and thankfully they sat happily on a box in my room, sweetly sharing their Cheetos and M&Ms and watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for the eleventy-ninth time while I spun through the house like a whirling dirvish. The whirlwind power clean is a maneuver I am exceptionally good at, if I do say so myself, and in an hour I had the house looking acceptable, with a few neat stacks of boxes, packed and unpacked, the main living areas clear with wood floors and surfaces gleaming, the kids' rooms reasonably straight, and kitchen and bathroom at least wiped down with counters clear.
Being able to make a good pass at cleaning in an hour is something I'm going to miss about my little house. As excited as I am about the new house, there is an element of sadness about leaving the our family's home for the past eleven-plus years. When we bought that house, I was pregnant with our first child. I remember painting the living room and stripping the ugly bathroom wallpaper like it was yesterday. I can remember walking into the room we prepared for Calvin and loving the way the light made the room feel peaceful and perfect for a baby. There was the train ride to New Orleans, en route to Katherine's wedding in Pensacola, when I agreed to name our unexpected third child Somerset instead of Veronica if we could move our room into the back den, giving her a room that would not be shared with her two brothers.
When I remember our house in the years to come, I will think about being able to sit on the couch and see the child playing in the bathtub. I'll remember the rare days when I sat in the living room watching snow fall past the big uncovered back windows in the den, and mornings spent on the front porch glider with a baby in the crook of my arm or playing in the exersaucer while the older kids rode bigwheels and tricycles down the neighbor's driveway. I'll think about making ravioli or having cocktails with a group of friends around the big table in the small dining room, laughing and talking smack over the sounds of too many kids running wild in the front bedrooms. I'll miss the walk to the duck pond and the sight of all four kids piled onto the sectional sofa that has been their favorite sleeping spot since we bought it. I'll remember my twenty-five year old self, buying our first house, expecting our first baby, and feeling like an adult but one who wasn't sure how she got to that point or if she knew what to do now that she was there.
Come to think of it, I'm not sure I feel that different now. I still don't feel like a 36 year old woman with four kids and a real job, but my new house certainly feels very grown up. And big! Did I mention all the space? I can already see it filled with our kids and our friends and our beautiful life, and that makes it a little easier to close the 1240 square-foot, one-bath chapter we're leaving behind.