This Thursday marks the second anniversary of our moving into our home. Our house-versary. Each year, I celebrate. Not a decorate-and-bake-a-cake type of celebration but definitely a little something special for dinner. Each year, though, as I look at the date on the calendar, I have a slight moment of hesitation. It seems, even to me, like a silly thing to celebrate. Acknowledgment seems appropriate, but celebration? My mind goes into debate.
On one hand, home-ownership is not uncommon. Most of the people I know own homes. It is a pretty standard expectation that you will grow up, leave your parents’ home, and buy your own — a mile marker in the journey of life. Should I not just put a check in that box and be satisfied? However, if I put a check in that box, suddenly a whole list of smaller check boxes appear underneath — maintenance, mortgage payments, electrical bills, lawn care, appliances, and decorating, all on top of the daily care that you need to provide your family. The smaller check boxes are life’s little reminders that you are now an adult. A mix of responsibility and fun.
When I first bought the house, each room was excitingly empty, just waiting to be filled with colors and knickknacks that would make it mine. Then I discovered how much knickknacks cost and how many of them it would take to fill a room. And then I discovered how long it takes to clean knickknacks. Decorating has slowed, and most other things now take a back seat to the ever-present need to clean. Despite my best efforts, my home is anything but clean. Sometimes it is, but mostly not. Though this is currently a failure, I must admit my multitasking skills have become enviable. In all failures are small wins. Still, I am able to provide a home that is orderly enough to have children in. Most days, Child Protective Services wouldn’t come to my house and find anything appallingly wrong. Most days.
On the other hand, owning a home is more than just the deed. The walls of homes hold so much more than pictures. Through these two years and the daily race of upkeep, my kids have grown. Marked on the walls of each of their bedroom closets are the tally marks to prove it. Riley welcomed her new baby sister here, and this house is only shelter that Maddie has ever known. We’ve celebrated holidays, birthdays, and childhood accomplishments. We’ve disagreed, fought, and bandaged wounds of the physical and emotional kinds. Slowly, we’ve added our family pictures to the walls. The walls of this house hold all of it. There is a security in that. As if these times are kept safe somewhere other than just our memories. The pride of home-ownership comes not only from the work that you put into the physical structure but the experiences that it captures.
As it did last year and likely will in each year to come, my mind settles and feels confident in its decision to celebrate. Something so integral to our family should not go without our show of gratitude. My hope is also that our celebration teaches the girls that home-ownership shouldn’t be taken for granted. It isn’t a given in life. It is something to strive for, and if they are lucky enough in the future to be in the position to own one, it is worth all the hard work that they will put into it. I want them to know, too, that a home is not made only by one family. We talk about the times we’ve had with others in our home. The dinners and playdates. The fire alarm that Grandpa fixed. The deck Grammy and Grandpa painted. They all make up the story of our home and for that we are grateful.