The lawn wasn’t ours. But we lay down on it anyway.
“We need to test its cloud-watching property,” my stepson said.
“Its what?” I asked.
“It’s when you lie in the grass and look up at the sky and see if you can see the clouds,” the 10-year-old explained.
So we all all sprawled out next to each other on the lawn and looked up at the sky — my stepson, his 6-year-old sister, my husband and I.
The lawn wasn’t ours.
But it might be soon.
We were at an open house, our third so far. And the first we’d taken my stepkids to.
It had caused us some hesitation, deciding whether to bring them to these things or not; we weren’t sure if it would be positive, to help them feel a part of the process — or if it would be difficult, with them getting attached to homes that we would have to shoot down. Or if, on the opposite end of the spectrum, they’d be indifferent or even upset about the whole thing.
They’ve moved before. Considering their short lifetimes thus far, proportionally they’ve moved a lot. My stepson’s lived in five places, his sister in four (including the two they now split time between: our apartment, and their mom’s).
During our last relocation, to our current apartment, I remember walking into the old living room where my stepson was playing, his back to me. “Sis,” he’d said, thinking my footsteps were his sister’s, “I don’t want to move again.”
That has stuck with me, and I’ve felt bad about the idea of putting them through the process yet again. They’re kids; they should have some sort of permanence, as much as we can give it to them.
So when their dad and I brought it up to them a few weeks ago, that we were going to be looking for a house, we emphasized that this relocation should (fingers crossed) be our last for a long time. One more move, we told them.
That was what they knew, and had been reassured of, as we drove to the open house together.
“How big is it?” my stepdaughter asked.
“Well,” her dad said, “bedrooms are on the second floor, everything else on the first floor. And there’s a basement.”
“So we’ll live on the second floor?” she asked.
“We’ll live on all the floors,” he answered.
“All of them? Nobody else lives there?”
“It’s not like an apartment,” I said. “The whole place would be just ours.”
“The whole place?!” she sounded so excited about the concept, it gave me some hope for how the rest of the trip would go.
We got there, and Joe evaluated the exterior as we walked up the driveway. “The front yard has some good places to run around in,” he observed. “And the blue color of the house is nice.” In conclusion: “Me likey,” he nodded with finality — and with a smile.
This was going well. And it got even better when we went inside.
They loved the living room. They loved the family room. They loved the eat-in kitchen’s peninsula with bar stools lined up next to it — “We can have breakfast there, like at the diner we go to all the time,” Joe pointed out.
They decided which bedrooms would be theirs, how’d they’d play hide-and-seek, where their dad’s office would be. They pictured everything as if we would actually live there.
As we got outside and lay on the grass to watch the clouds, my stepson summed up his view: “I feel relaxed here,” he said.
“I love it, can we get it?” my stepdaughter asked, a bit more directly.
I think their excitement rubbed off on me, too. If my husband and I had gone to see the house alone, I probably would have been more objective, more critical. Possibly just flat-out more rational. But being there with the kids put a different spin on it, an emotional one. Through their eyes, I could see how we could all not just move there, but actually live there, as a family.
A lot more needed to happen before that could become a reality, but we were off on the right foot. Having the kids involved, motivated, feeling like their opinion mattered — this was the best we could have hoped for. I was glad we had all gone together.
Because our goal is to find a place to let them grow up and be able to consider it “home.” Not just another apartment or temporary living space, but home.
This was a great start.