Eleven years ago, as newlyweds, my husband and I bought our first house. In the years following, we busied ourselves by filling it with little kids and big dreams. So much so, in fact, that the walls started bulging, and it came time to make a move. A big one. After a lot of thought and debate, we realized it was still home in so many ways, so we decided to tear down the original house and rebuild in the exact same spot -- the place where our story started. It's strange, though, tearing down the walls that held you up through so much. And so, as we recently said goodbye, I couldn't help but wonder... what if these walls could talk?
If these walls could talk, they'd tell a love story. One that twisted, turned, and grew equal parts more lovely and messy with each new chapter.
If these walls could talk, they'd tell the story of a boy and a girl who walked through the door with their hearts as wide open as their dreams. This boy and girl, they bought this house -- these walls -- they couldn't begin to fill, sure that with enough love, it would be just right in no time. That the echoes of empty rooms would eventually be replaced by the pitter-patter of little feet on the hardwood.
If these walls could talk, they'd speak of heart-bursting joy, heartbreaking loss, and the sweet lulls of contentment in between. Of the girl and the boy becoming a mom and a dad. They'd murmur deep truths like cries of joy, tears of frustration, screeches of pain, and coos of satisfaction.
If these walls could talk, they'd tell the story of two people who worked hard, loved hard, and tried so very hard to create a sweet spot for the little boy they loved even more than cookie dough. They'd cough uncomfortably remembering the amount of Lysol that was diligently sprayed at the mere mention of germs, and knowingly laugh at the number of ear infections that resulted in spite of it all.
If these walls could talk, they'd reminisce about the girl crying as she bid her sweet boy farewell to leave for the hospital, knowing -- with great certainty -- there was no possible way she could love another one quite as much. But they'd say it with a wink, because, of course, she was so very wrong.
If these walls could talk, they'd tell you about the time the boy and girl came home reeling because the third little boy they were expecting was actually a girl. That they suddenly looked at those walls differently -- wondering if there was room for pretty and pink in a house so very overflowing now with toughness and trucks.
Photo by Jessica Rosenberg.
If these walls could talk, they'd brag about so many firsts your head would spin. First promotions. First plus signs. First words. First steps. First "I love you"s. First all-by-myself rides. First all-by-myself books. First friends. First trophies. First report cards. They'd also have to point out, of course, the not-so-wonderful milestones. First stitches. First forever goodbyes. First hurt feelings. First injured prides.
If these walls could talk, they'd dish about tear-stained pillows and marker-stained tables. About stacks of celebratory red cups and mountains of dirty baby bottles. About hilariously burned dinners and painfully burned bridges. About the seemingly endless supply of streamers, toys, and dust bunnies.
If these walls could talk, they'd whisper secrets shared among friends turned family. Some of them while laughing wildly over wine, others while exposing the most vulnerable depths of the heart over tears.
If these walls could talk, they'd tell you about how the boy became a man. One who went from grooming the best lawn in the neighborhood, to spray painting it into a football field to bring his mini-me pure joy. One who now responds with ease and confidence to "Babe," "Daddy," "Dad," "Coach," and "Boss."
If these walls could talk, they'd tell you about how the girl became a woman. One who went from not knowing to not second guessing. One who slowly rocks side to side holding anything from a backpack to a cup of coffee, even though there hasn't been a baby in her arms for years. One who couldn't be more proud of the people who graciously call her "Babe," "Mommy," "Mom," "Friend," and "Writer."
If these walls could talk, they'd tell you that the boy and girl were right. That the echoes of emptiness were replaced by great big sloppy love. By music that's always just a little bit too loud. By enthusiastic shouts that don't seem to remember how to whisper. By belly laughs that often suggest trouble is brewing. They'd tell you that trying to contain these five big personalities in this small house grew more and more challenging by the day.
If these walls could talk, they'd tell you they were tired. That they saw too much commotion in the middle of the night. That there was too much contact with heads, trucks, and balls. That they wished they'd witnessed more compassion and less yelling.
But, most importantly, if these walls could talk, they would sigh that deep, refreshing, soul-filling kind of sigh you feel when you finally reach the story's happy ending. Because, they'd say, it was really what was inside that mattered. Not the walls, but the love, spirit, and passion that still stand tall. Though the walls are gone, the people who were inside them will continue to hold each other up. And while that family will build a new house -- new walls -- the truth is, wherever they are together, that's where they'll be right at home. (Even if it takes a few more tear-stained pillows to realize it.)
A version of this post originally appeared on Using Our Words.
Amy Heinz is a San Francisco Bay Area mom of three and the writer behind Using Our Words -- a parenting blog filled with lessons she's learned (usually the hard way), laughs she's enjoyed (mostly at her own expense), and tears she's shed (this mama's got heart). You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.