The house that built this family

The kids on our porch swing in town....6 1/2 years ago!
About two years ago I was asked to write for a column in the South Bend Tribune.  The editor of the column knew of Hoosier Happenings and my writing style and thought it would make for a good read....or possibly lining in a bird cage, one of the two.  I asked what the topic should be and they said "up to you".  Recently our home has been undergoing a transformation, which may be part two to this story.  That transformation has me thinking about our old house in town and all of our own touches that made to it.  And now we're doing it all over again.  For now, though, I thought you would enjoy the article about the house that built our family:

A few weeks ago I drove the kids to school in the morning and passed by the home we once lived in in town.  Maybe it was the sprinkle of sunlight over the front porch that added extra charm to it that morning, but I sighed and said “there’s our old house”.  At that point my daughter asked “dad, do you miss our old house?”

I hesitated to respond.  It not only was our first home, but was also the only one the kids had known; we purchased it just two months after being married.  There are so many memories there, not to mention that we had just finished renovating and restoring it when we decided to move into another “diamond in the rough”.  The kids made a few comments the months following the move that pierced the heart, mostly “why did we have to move?”  Peace of mind is a hard thing to relate to an 8 and 10 year old.

Camping out in town
We moved into our place in the country just over a year ago; we dubbed it Sycamore Hill.  It is a Civil War-era farmstead surrounded by pastures, woods, and a creek.  We’ve established a garden and orchard and the kids have scoped out places for tree houses and forts.  They are begging for animals but I’m holding out on that request.  The sunrises are almost always picture perfect.  Being a guy born for history and the country the place simply felt like home the moment I saw it.

“Dad! Do you miss our old house?!?”  That’s right, there’s that question hanging out there.  “Yes.  Of course I do.”  I could have said no in the hope that the kids would feel like it was important to leave those things in the past and look forward.  But the fact is I do miss it.  I followed up my response by reminding them of all of the fun we’ve already had at our new place, which got them talking about the things they’ve experienced in the short time we’ve lived “on the Hill”.

I think about the frequency with which people move and relocate today and while maybe there isn’t the same emotional attachment, it still must be tough on everyone involved.  In this mobile society where putting down roots is difficult at best, it becomes all the more important that we validate the feelings kids have when they leave maybe the only place they’ve ever known.  And it’s ok to break from the tough guy image and admit that you miss seeing the place where your kids took their first steps.

There is a popular country song by Miranda Lambert entitled “The House that Built Me”.  Of course any time I hear the song I think about the home we make for our kids and wonder if they’ll think about this new place with the same fondness.  But we’ve all heard home is what you make it.  Laughter and tears, Christmas mornings, birthday parties, baking cookies with mom, planting a garden, all of those things are what make a home, no matter how often the scenery changes.


Troy Sherk said…
I lived in three different houses when I was growing up, and I have attachements to each one for different reasons. The first house was a house in town in Bremen and was an old house. Even though I was only 6 when we moved from there, I have tons of great memories of it. The second house was out in the country surrounding Bremen and that was where we had much more land, a pole barn, and fields around us. I remember riding my go-kart, having two outside dogs, and perpetually wanting to light the fireplace, which was kind of a new thing to me. We moved from there when my dad passed away too soon when I was 8 and came to Plymouth. We actually moved into there when I turned 9, which is just old enough for me to think of the first two houses as my childhood homes and the second as where I became a teenager and did a lot of actual growing up.

So I think your kids will look back on both houses with fondness. There may not be a clear one in their minds as "the house that built me" but for me, each house I lived in was "a house that built me."
Jim said…
I've never had a house in the country, though my parents are getting ready to sell the house they've lived in since I was 9. It is a fairly modest single-story home, unremarkable for its own sake, but it is an anchor in my life.

But while my wife and I were going through our divorce I lived in a truly awful one-room apartment, and today, many years later, the times my sons and I had there are overall good memories and part of our lives' fabric.

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