Recently, I found myself driving in front the house that I grew up in until was in high school. I stopped, parked across the street and just stared at it. My parents sold it when I was fifteen because my father had gotten sick, could no longer work, and they could no longer afford to make the payments. I had completely forgotten that we had lived there until it was right in front of me. For whatever reason, I had forgotten that house. For the next few years after the sale, my parents rented, and my mother did not purchase a new home until years after my father’s death, and it was something that she wished she was able to do when he was alive.
I choose to forget that house because it was a time when all of us were together – my father, my mother, and my siblings and I (seven children) living all under the same roof. A couple years later, my older sister got married, and I married about couple years after that. Less than a year after I married, my father passed away. Slowly and one by one, we grew up and moved away. Today, it is just my mother and my baby brother under the same roof and he heads off to college several hours away in late August. Then, it will just be my mom and the seven of us coming and going with her nineteen grandchildren.
For me, it seems normal that we all moved on and away, but for my mom, it seems so surreal. In few months, she will be all alone in that big house, a home that did not include my father and all her seven children (only five of her children actually lived there because my older sister and I were moved out when she purchased it).
I have never understood my mother and she and I have never seen eye-to-eye. We disagree about everything from raising children to the role of a woman in this world. But she is my mother and if anything, I get my resilience and strength from her. She tells me she is content that she raised seven children and that they have all gone on with their lives, but in her eyes, I see a different story. I see a woman who wishes she could go back to the days when we lived in that white four-bedroom colonial – the one with the family room when you walk in the front door, a warm and welcoming kitchen, winding steps in the middle, the four bedrooms on the second floor that faced each other, and that finished attic; and the home where my father’s memory still lives and where all her seven children were all one under one roof.
Now that I am a mother I can relate and I can understand. I want to hold my children close by and I wish that they could be little forever. However, I know that one day, I will be in my mother’s shoes wondering where the years went and at the same time, proud of who my children have become. My mother was a homemaker all her life and in my eyes, she was very successful. She raised seven children who all turned out to be hard-working and decent people. If that is not success, I don’t know what it is.