Last night I got to read to Michaela. This hasn't happened for a long time. She is such a proficient and avid reader that my reading to her became seemingly unnecessary. But the truth is, she still loves for me to spend that time with her just before she goes to sleep. I often think of her as so very old, when the fact is she is just 10. Next to Eliana, yes, that is a very big girl. But in reality, she is still my baby girl. And she still needs so much from me, even though she is quite independent.
I read to her from The Secret Garden, which we started ages ago. She was happy to pick up where we left off, which is close to the end. I finished the chapter, and tucked her in, turned off the light and pushed her bangs back. I could see that she was thinking about something in a serious manner, and I asked her if there was something she wanted to talk about. She immediately began crying and said,"It's the other house. I wish we were still there."
Our decision to move was so sudden, the kids didn't really have time to take it in before we were Pop! living in a new house. I knew that they weren't very happy about the move, as they made their opinions quite known before we left for our Christmas trip to Florida. It's hard to miss the meaning of,"I DON'T WANT TO MOVE!", even when you are a ding-dong like me. So, it didn't surprise me that she was still upset, and still emotional about it. I sat on her bed and patted her leg and told her it was okay to cry and miss the other house. I think that's true. It's not going to help her for me to say,"Well, get over it honey! We're here now and this house is the one you need to think of as home!" I can't even do that, yet. It's also hard to imagine it as our home because we knew the people who lived here. We can still picture their things around the house (in fact, we bought one of their sofas, and it's in the same place that it was when they lived here, in the living room) (I need to buy a new throw for it to make it more ours), and I think the house still smells like it did when they lived here. Just like when I walk into our old house (the kids call it the new old house, since we have two "old houses" here) it smells like that warm, old wood smell that reminds me of my Grandma's...that smell had become the smell of home for me.
I stayed with her for a bit, and asked her questions, listening to her quiet voice share about what she was trying to process. We talked about memories that we have from that home. The more I thought about it the more it came to me why leaving was so significant and sad for her. When we moved into that house she was eight. Eight is old enough to remember things vividly. It was the first time she was getting her own room. My mom and dad came to town to help us move and Mom and I went around shopping, getting new things for the house and Michaela's room one day (literally, one entire day...it was so much fun) (Mike was worried after we didn't come home at dinnertime) (not necessarily about us, but about the state of our credit cards). We also took Michaela out with us and let her in on the fun of picking out things for her new space, like a shower curtain and some curtains for her windows. Later in the year Michaela and I found a print to hang up, a pretty flower picture which went beautifully with her orange and pink themed room. She had all the furniture that she wanted in there, furniture that she loved and had become sentimentally attached to...it was hers after all. This was her room. It became a place she could escape to when Anyone Annoying got to be too much. She played, read, crafted, messed and cleaned it up (sometimes). Her very own space.
Not too long ago (January 27th) I was in the house trying to pack up some more stuff and clean up some of the major dustballs and gross things that accumulate under and behind your furniture over the years. I walked through the rooms, letting the tears flow myself. It sounds ridiculous, I know, considering the fairly huge amount of complaining I have done about that place. And for sure, it has its problems, from faulty wiring to plumbing issues. But we made a lot of memories there.
When we first moved in, Eliana was 18 months old. The fire station is just a couple of blocks up the street from where we were, and every time a fire engine or ambulance went racing by, sirens screaming, she would run to one of the front windows and call out,"Fire engine!" Every. Single. Time. It was precious.
The summer after we moved in some of our friends came to stay with us for a few days. Two of my mom friends and their six kids (three in each family)...it was so much fun. We lived and breathed good friends and food and pool time. We squeezed in baseball games and movies and some special performances. Also eating brownies, breaking glasses, and killing roaches.
Let's not think about the roaches, eh?
My parents visited several times, from when we moved in, to my mom's solo trip to help unpack some more, to the Christmas after their Very Bad Accident. Those visits are full of eating cake, opening presents (whether for someone's birthday or for Christmas...or both, back to back!), ringing in the new year, unpacking, fixing things up, putting furniture together with the kids, and so much more.
The kids have their own memories...one that Michaela mentioned to me is a time when Mike came into her bedroom to make sure she was tucked in and sleeping. She was asleep, but her light was still on. He turned out the light and as he did she held up her hand in the "I love you" sign, but she didn't remember doing it, because she was sleeping. I chuckled and said,"So, one of your best memories of the house is something that you don't even remember." She smiled at that and nodded her head affirming this assessment.
So, back to walking around the house...I went all through the downstairs, from one side to the other, and then back across following the long hallway that goes from the TV room all the way to the kitchen. I looped around through the dining room and then went upstairs. I walked around Christian's room, in his closet, and then to the front of the house to the room that was originally going to be Eliana's room. We ended up using it as a school room/office for the last few months that we lived there.
I finally made it to Michaela's room. I opened her closet door, looked at the clothes still hanging there and at the shelves that lined each side. I shut that door and then peeked in her bathroom. The shower curtain valance was still there, that my mom made, as well as old bottles of shampoo and conditioner. They never got used because we learned shortly after we moved in that her shower leaked into the downstairs playroom. Her shower was pretty much abandoned after that...we never got around to replacing the shower head to see if that changed anything. I turned from her bathroom and went over to one of her windows.
I kind of lost it. She had staked her claim. With Wikki Stix. I had never noticed it before, but I'm glad I did. This was her room. Micky's room. And I think that it will be forever.