There comes a point when all (or most) of our parents must move away from our childhood home. I think the initial reaction is usually selfish… “But why?”, “But that’s where I grew up”, “Where am I going to go ‘home’ to this Christmas?” For me, this news has been a long time coming and while it was expected at some point, the emptiness that followed the news was much tougher than I’d imagined. As a child of the automotive industry, I’ve watched my parents dreams crumble with the economy under the wrath of corporate restructuring, downsizing and government bail outs. I know we’ve all felt the economy slap us in the face a few times over the course of the last few years, but no one has felt it like Michigan. I’ve watched good people lose their homes and family friends struggle to pay for college because the keys to their educations were wrapped up in bad investment portfolios that shattered in 2008. For those of us who stepped out from under the roofs of our parents these past few years, our reality checks were quite a bit different than I presume they were 10-15 years ago. “Our parents’ notion that we’d get out of college and make $80K a year was the biggest fallacy of the 1990s,” a friend of mine recently told me. But who could have predicted? We were all prepared for the best – not the worst.
My parents are moving into their new home this week and while I’m happy for their sake that they’re finally downsizing to a much more manageable house and yard both in terms of physical effort and finances, I’ve been quite determined up until this point to just not think about it. Our family home is where I listened to countless life lessons from my dad, learned to cook, buried our family dog, gardened in the summer with my mom, basked in the sun by the pool and shoveled snow in the winter. That home is where I played with Barbies for hours, decorated our log cabin (playhouse), learned to drive and constantly broke curfew. It’s where I tried on my first pair of toe shoes with pride and practiced my barre work in the basement in front of the mirrored closet doors my dad installed. I remember walking into that house for the first time in 3rd grade knowing my parents had found our home. I couldn’t wait to paint my room pink with my grandpa and play in my two dormer windows that felt enormous as a little girl.
But what’s really effecting me emotionally about their move this week is the countless lessons of design and homemaking that I learned from my mom in that house. It’s where she taught me the art of picking out materials, space planning a room and effortlessly mixing prints. It’s where she and my grandma taught me to sew and where she made all of our pillows and (absolutely pristine) window treatments by hand. There really is no place like home and the feeling of home that my mom created for our family over the years is something I struggle to recreate in my own little home daily. How did she always make it look so easy?
I received a box while I was in Austin of a few things my mom came across while packing and decided to pass along to me… a set of her gorgeous wedding glasses with silver rims, my great grandmother Ida’s cordial glasses, her set of watercolors, a colorful cigar box that used to hold my jewelry as a teenager, a tasty sangria mix and a pair of earrings since I can’t ever seem to find mine. While the box of ‘home’ brought a smile to my face, it also forced me to finally think about it… something I’ve been avoiding for weeks. Soon the family home that I grew up in will just be a memory and it will be up to someone else to truly make it theirs.
In the interim, I’ll focus on how to help my parents re-do their new place. The kitchen needs updating, the floors are outdated and there is a hideous purple staircase (to be ripped out) that I haven’t stopped hearing about. There are new window treatments to be made, old wall coverings to tear down and paint to replace. I’m excited for the two of us to finally collaborate on our first real project with her wisdom and my new design education… and I have a feeling it’ll be a smashing success.
Cheers to learning to embrace change and to cherishing the memories.