As I sit here listening to my kids laughter and shouts from the backyard, I am reminded of why we chose this house in the first place.
We had decided that it was time to make the move to this northern city. We were being completely priced out of the housing market in our old city and my husband was often far north, working so we could afford to keep living there. I decided that enough was enough, we were moving. I wanted to have a house of our own! I wanted my husband to sleep beside me in it. I wanted my kids to live closer to their grandparents, to know them like I never did mine.
I scoured the real estate listings on the internet, narrowing down our choices so we could make the drive and look at houses that met our criteria. The way it turned out, the most important criteria was one I hadn't thought to write down. One I couldn't have gleaned from the internet.
When we drove up to this house, I loved it at first site. The front yard was huge! There was some simple, pretty landscaping and the house itself was yellow. I don't particularly like yellow, but I have since read that yellow houses sell best for some reason. I pointed out a number of yards with bicycles in them to my hubby, "Must be lots of kids around!"
As we went inside to look around, the boys heard kids out back and ran around to introduce themselves. We liked the house, it met many of our requirements - 4 bedrooms, ensuite bath, family room; it was clean and well-maintained. I immediately started to imagine the changes we would make and how everything would look when we moved in. I wasn't completely sold, I would have preferred something a bit bigger, something more updated.
I looked out the kitchen window at my children. They were in the middle of a huge huddle of kids, all chatting excitedly. Little boys everywhere! And then I knew. I knew God had brought us to this house, and those little boys were the reason.
As we drove around, looking at all the houses on our list I kept thinking about that little yellow house. For the past 3 or 4 years we had lived in a duplex on the edge of a decent neighbourhood. The only kids on our street had lived about a half block away and had recently moved across the neighbourhood. It had been a lonely place for our kids to live. They couldn't just run out and play, our street was fairly busy and it was close to a transit train station and a number of apartment buildings. Often there were homeless people, coming from the downtown train, roaming the alley looking for bottles. It just wasn't that kid friendly.
I so wanted them to have playmates to run with. I couldn't get the yellow house out of my mind. Two little boys lived right next door and they were the same ages as my boys! Another boy and his tomboyish sister lived a few houses up, there were more bikes and skateboards across the street. I could just envision them all riding around the cul-de-sac together, playing tag across the adjoining yards. Memories of the summers of my childhood danced in my head, kick the can at dusk with dozens of playmates. Freeze tag after school on short spring evenings. Snow forts with neighbours, whose father would help us dig. That is what I wanted for my kids! Even more important now that we were homeschoolers and didn't have the automatic social opportunities afforded by school.
So here we are, 4 summers later. There are 9 or 10 kids laughing and yelling in the backyard. The neighbours have become good friends, we built our new fence last year with a gate between our yards, one that is rarely shut. Now the oldest boys are attending youth group together, riding the cusp between teenager and child. They are both a bit young for their ages, enjoy playing lego or tag with the younger kids, as well as the added freedoms that come with 13. I have added a few kids to the mix and all the older kids are so welcoming and loving to my littles. They patiently include them in their games and let them feel like part of the gang-for a while.
I couldn't ask for more. As their laughter fills the sweltering air and filters into my home through the open windows, I say a prayer of thanks. Thankful that God brought us here and filled our life with children. Thankful for the carefree days of childhood summers filled with memories in the making. Thankful for wonderful kids who welcome one and all into their play, even pesky little brothers and sisters, especially because this allows me some child-free moments in my days.
The reason we came to this home has become the reason we stay. I often dream of a bigger home, all shiny and new, or perfectly restored and very old. I dream of a huge backyard with room for a dog. I dream of having a guest room or two for all the company we get each month. I dream and yearn for the physical space that would allow me some mental space. But. God brought us here for a reason, and those reasons are compelling reasons to stay. I am sure the time will come for us to move on, but at this moment, the thought of it saddens me.