"I think I made the wrong choice."
That's what Ella said as she sobbed last Saturday night after a long day of packing up boxes and watching the movers come and empty out this little old house that has watched our family grow for the past six years. Even with all my planning and organization (including a detailed packing log), I was not prepared for how exhausting and emotional this whole moving process would be.
Ella has been dying for her own room, and we promised her that she could have one once we moved. As the moving date got closer, I tried to convince her to wait until the second move into our new house to make the switch, but she was adamant that she was ready now.
And then on that first night in the rental as I was in Claire and Lucy's new room trying to make up their beds, Ella came in, looked at me for a moment, and burst into tears. These weren't your regular "I scraped my knee" tears or "my sister got a bigger cookie than me" tears, but real, gut-wrenching tears. Having her own room lost its appeal after she was confronted with the reality of sleeping in a dark room by herself without her constant companion of the last five years.
I cried right along with her that night. It may seem trivial in the grand scheme of things, but this was probably the first time in her almost eight years on earth that she's had to face something really hard, scary, and seemingly overwhelming for her. If I hadn't felt like I was literally going to collapse from exhaustion in that moment, I would have moved her bed back in with Claire's by myself that very night. Instead I did my best to calm her down and told her we'd figure it out the next day. She later told me that she stayed awake staring at the door with tears rolling down her face all night long. It broke my heart.
After that I was sure that she would decide to move back in with Claire, at least for the next couple of months until the next move. So the next evening when she told me that although she would miss Claire ("she really was a good roommate"), she was no longer afraid and still wanted her own room, I was the one who ended up crying. It just felt like too much change all at once, and I was worried that they would start to lose their close relationship. So all week long Ella's been writing me notes to try to make me feel better about things, filled with memories of sharing a room with Claire like "falling on your pillow," a game they apparently liked to play that involved standing at the foot of their beds and falling face first onto their pillows.
The day after our move was Easter. Despite being completely unprepared (at least the Easter Bunny still managed to find us), I was able to scrounge up some Easter-ish outfits for the girls - two out of three wore hand me down outfits that I pulled out of a bin minutes before we walked out the door - and we headed to our old house to say our final goodbyes and have an Easter egg hunt in the backyard.
Afterward, Matt loaded the girls into the car and I stood by myself in the kitchen, staring for the last time into the empty living room with tears rolling down my face this time.
I didn't expect to be so emotional over the whole thing, but it felt a little bit like the end of an era. I just couldn't stop thinking about two of my babies coming home to this house from the hospital, Christmas mornings, the girls playing in the backyard, hearing their footsteps on the squeaky stairs as they came downstairs to ask for just one more thing before falling asleep, Lucy yelling good night to her sisters from across the hall, first day of school pictures in front of the white fence, the girls sitting on the kitchen counter while I made dinner, and the list goes on and on.
In that moment I really just wanted to call the whole thing off and forget about this selling our house business. But on Monday the papers were signed and we handed off the keys to a family with two boys who will hopefully make many more happy memories there.
Just as the morning brought a fresh perspective to Ella, a few days of distance (and some sleep) has helped my own emotions to subside. I do know that this was the right decision for us and that it was time to move on. And I'm looking forward to finally moving into our new house.
We have settled into life in our rental house. None of us can quite bring ourselves to call it home; even Lucy calls it simply "the rental." I have to drive by our old house at least once a day on my way to drop off Claire at school, and my heart drops a little bit each time we pass by. The good news is that Lucy is thrilled to be sharing a room with Claire. That first night she was so excited she screamed and started hugging all the furniture in the room. Claire seems content with both living arrangements. "I just want to share a room with all my sisters," she tells me.
The other night however, things in Claire and Lucy's new shared room got a little too rowdy, so I pulled Claire out and told her to go into Ella's room until Lucy fell asleep. A few minutes later I peeked in and saw Ella reading a book to Claire, the two of them snuggled up together on Ella's bed, and for a moment all was right with the world again.
There may be a lot of change afoot in our lives right now, but at least I can count on some things remain the same.