When we left the house where we’d begun our little family, I was so emotional, I wrote about it (of course!). I love where we live now, but leaving the place which was filled with so many memories from our children’s early lives was so hard. I came across this piece when I was clearing up my files and it brought back all those memories again, seven years on. I thought I’d share it…
The uninhibited deep belly chuckle of my baby son echoes around the room. This type of laughter is impossible to ignore and soon everyone in its presence joins in. The only person not impressed is the cat. Lying curled up on his throne, light filters in through the window illuminating him like a spotlight on a stage. His head rises from his curled frame and throwing a look of disgust in the general direction of the children he jumps down from the sofa and makes a regal exit. My gaze follows him, as does the light and the tiny little fragments of dust that dance around to his exit number.
Another song begins as this one ends. This time it’s coming from the television. CBeebies plays constantly on a two or three round repeat and I’m sure I’ve seen this episode of Balamory more than once. I walk through to the kitchen, stepping over plastic food and toy cars that litter the floor. It makes me smile as I think about my constant moaning about discarded toys: ‘you have a play room so why don’t you use it?’
The kitchen window is open and a cool breeze filters in causing my skin to cover in goose bumps. It doesn’t take much to steam up the windows in this small room. Today there are several pots and pans on the go, all busy cooking up dinner for a growing family of five. The fan of the oven lets out a low and steady whir. It’s a hive of activity in here but the cat is oblivious to that. He sits at the back door, unmoving and with a stubbornness that says I am not moving from here until you let me out. Quite clearly, he’s had enough.
I look around at the exposed brick walls of the kitchen, covered with drawings and paintings from the girls: memories of happy times at pre-school and nursery. They also serve as a reminder of how quickly time flies and how so much has changed during our time at this house.
Trying not to get too emotional, I walk back through the lounge and up the stairs. Where to start? Each room up here has seen a number of occupants. Every time we bring a new child home it’s like someone shouts ‘all change’ and we swap around rooms. The room to the right of the stairs, the master bedroom since the extension, was once the nursery. The girls both slept in here, a smaller room back then, decorated in pale yellow, with yellow and blue gingham soft furnishings, trimmed with little ducks – the result of choosing neutral when you don’t know the sex of your baby.
I picture my eldest daughter when I found her balancing precariously on the side of her cot after waking from her nap. She was around eighteen months old at the time. I see myself, sitting in the darkness feeding my younger daughter, hoping and praying that she would settle back down to sleep once she’d finished.
Walking back across the stairs, the other rooms reflect the personalities of the children who occupy them: one pink room for the princess and her many dressing up clothes and dolls and one purple room for the more conservative child, who is happier to play by herself than with any particular toys. The baby’s room is different. It’s only big enough to fit a cot, chair and chest of drawers in and who knows what sort of personality he will turn out to be?
There is a loud honk coming from outside and it startles me. The removal van has finished loading and it’s time to go. This is the moment. These memories flashing before me are just that – memories of happy times in this house. The rooms may all be empty now, but the memories are still here, vivid and strong.
This house, where so much has happened.
Three children lived the first years of their little lives here. There have been sleepless nights, potty training, weaning, first steps and much more, but now I must say goodbye.
Walking back down the stairs, I notice a stain on the carpet: a wine stain left over from a party. Happy times. Laughter, lots of laughter.
It’s hard to say goodbye, but when I look back once more, all I see is emptiness. The plain wooden floors, beige carpets and neutral walls don’t tell the stories of the days spent here. It’s just a house, I tell myself, that’s all. The memories are with you forever, long after you leave here.
I step outside and for the last time ever, close the door. It may only be a house, but to me this place will always be home.