The following was originally published in “The Good Life Men’s Magazine”
Almost ten years to the day after my wife, Emily, and I moved into our first home together, we packed up all our earthly possessions and moved south… approximately 30 blocks. There were four of us to move this time around, including our son, Macklin, and our dog, Lucy. After ten years of accumulation, and now being fully moved into a home roughly twice the size, it’s amazing how much we crammed into that first home.
Beyond the physical stuff — which we brought with us, for better or worse — the move provided a wonderful excuse to get lost in nostalgia over all the intangible stuff we also crammed in during the past ten years. We created enough memories, learned enough lessons and experienced enough “firsts” to write a small memoir… minus all the heroics and achievements one normally reads about in memoirs.
And so, the hardest part of the move wasn’t physical, although I’ll never again be a willing participant in moving a piano. For me, moving felt like forever walking away from the set and setting of my life as a full-time stay-at-home dad — arguably the greatest time of my life.
I will never again be greeted by those seven steps up from the front door to the living room, where Mack learned to climb stairs, or the seven steps down to the basement, where he was often too adorably afraid to go by himself. I will never get to chase Mack in circles around the wall that divided the kitchen from the living room. I’ll never sit under our flowering front tree with him on a blanket like we did every sunny day before he learned to walk. I’ll never walk in to wake him up in his old bedroom, where I put together his crib not once, but twice… and then a third time, when he grew big enough to transform it into a toddler bed. We’ll never walk the same loop around the neighborhood like we did every day, rain or shine, warm or cold just to get out of the house for a while. I could go on, obviously.
In the days after the move, I fought hard against the instinct to drive past the old house, because I knew I would never make it without crying. Even now, months later, the only way I will drive through the old neighborhood is if Macklin is with me and he asks to see the house. (OK, I always bring it up, but I let him make the final call.)
Last week he accepted my offer, and as we slowly creeped by the old house, Mack said something with profound deeper meaning: “I liked that house, Daddy. Yeah, it’s a good house. I like our new house, too.”
A weight lifted off my shoulders… promptly falling directly into my tear ducts. My 4-year-old simplified my feelings for me, taking the edge off and giving me permission to keep loving our old home, while still celebrating the beginning of many new adventures in our new home.
In the weeks leading up to the move, Emily and I wondered how Macklin would transition to the new house. Not surprisingly, he handled it the best out of all of us… after all, he’s got the memory and attention span of a 4-year-old. Emily compulsively painted our bedrooms. Lucy had an accident the first time she smelled a trace of the prior owner’s dog, something she hadn’t done in years. My transition object was the lawnmower — I took extra care getting to know the new yard, taking twice as long to mow it as I otherwise would.
Macklin, however, settled right in. We knew he was over the whole move on day two, when he refused to get dressed for the day. “It’s mine own home to be naked in,” he declared. He was right. We were home.