When M and I got married, I imagined we would have three children. We bought a six room Cape as our “starter” home. The plan was we’d live there for about five years and then move into a bigger house to accommodate our soon to be growing family. Well… in May we celebrated our 20th anniversary in that starter house. We love the neighborhood, the back yard, and the convenient location. It turned out to be the perfect size for our family of three.
Over the years, there were times when the house felt too small. Our first summer here, we invited 60 people over for a backyard cookout. The torrential rains turned it into an indoor picnic and the house was ready to burst. When we started accumulating K’s things, the Cape’s charming sized rooms and quaint closets were a challenge. And when the Christmas tree goes up, we need to move furniture around in ways that remind me of my old Rubik’s cube.
Overall though, our house is just right. Any time my Dad visited, he used to comment on how much he could feel the love here. Not sure we could put that in a real estate listing, but he was right. There is love here. It’s in the green walls of the dining room, the green that I selected and purchased but didn’t like after M finished painting it. M took one look at my face and offered to redo it in another color, but I said no. Every time I look at those walls, I don’t see the wrong color. Instead, I remember how a man who hates to paint offered to paint again because he loves me. I see it in the built-in shelves that my brother, R, crafted in K’s room, in the chair my parents gave us, and the rug my father-in-law bought. Sure, there are times when I wish for a beautiful, big bathroom instead of our small one with avocado tiles, but I wouldn’t trade our perfect house for it.
Just as our house is the perfect size for us, I’ve come to believe our family is the perfect size for us. True, it’s smaller than I once imagined. I had middle names all picked out that I never got to use. I’ve only got one child to select my nursing home. And as someone blessed with the best siblings on the planet, I worry about what K missed there. But we have friends who are like family and we have extended family who are true friends. I know they will be there for her when M and I can’t be any more.
Our family wasn’t created the way I thought it would be. I’ve never known what pregnancy feels like. I watched someone else give birth to my child. But from the moment K was born, she was my daughter. She is my family, a family that may be small, but you can feel the love here.