A few years ago, we decided to sell our house and downsize to a smaller one. It wasn’t an easy decision, and it wasn’t one we came to lightly. It was one we mulled over for about a year before we finally decided to take the plunge. And even after the decision was made, I cried when our agent scheduled our first viewing and my hands shook as the first offer came in.
Within days, we accepted a contract on our house, put a contract on a new house, and began planning our move. We measured the walls in the new house to plan out furniture placement, we had the moving company scheduled. Our entire house was packed in boxes and ready to go. And still, something didn’t sit right. We didn’t speak to each other about it, but the air was thick with hesitation.
Throughout the process, I had to continuously remind myself that I was selling a house, not my home. Never my home. Home is in my husband’s arms at the end of a log day; home is snuggling my son when he has a nightmare in the middle of the night; home is joy and laughter and sorrow and tears. It is not a building or a place. Instead, it’s a feeling and it’s people we love. It’s family.
This was the first house my husband and I bought together. I got my first positive on a pregnancy test in my master bathroom. We brought our son home from the hospital to this house. He took his first steps here, spoke his first word, celebrated his first birthday. But I wasn’t selling memories either. Those are a part of my soul.
We didn’t decide to sell because we had to. We could afford our mortgage and our bills. We didn’t have to clip coupons, we didn’t spend (much) time stressing over our bank account at the end of the month. We could buy J all he needed and much of what he wanted. Yeah, we played our account down to the double digits sometimes–but we also had multiple savings accounts, retirement accounts, and savings and college accounts for our son. We often joked that J had way more money than we did, but we were doing okay.
Downsizing offered us financial security, but it also offered me the chance to stay at home if we ever had another child. I once told my husband, “I feel like I gave away my 5-month-old baby when I returned to work–and I never really got him back.” The constant sadness that everybody told me would get better had not gotten better. And I knew I couldn’t swallow it with a second child. I needed to feel more present and less sad, to spend less time every evening planning for how to get through one more tomorrow–a tomorrow that I didn’t really like.
That’s what we told people: financial security. save money. stay home with a second baby.
What we didn’t tell people was that the biggest motivator for us to sell our house was to be able afford the ever-growing bills from infertility treatments, and to eventually be able to afford IVF, which looked like more and more of a reality. I would have given up just about anything at that point to have another baby. Stopping wasn’t an option–I needed to cling to the hope of another child like I needed my next breath.
So we were motivated to sell. Even so, when our buyers tried to pull a little trick and get us to come down on our price the day before closing, we drew a firm line. Neither of us like dishonesty and a lack of integrity, so we gave them the middle finger and pulled the plug on the deal. Just like that, we walked away.
The next few days were filled with relief, even if we still had so many questions on what our next move would be. I spent the time taking advantage of the fact that we had an empty house—I cleaned it from top to bottom and unpacked things and sold or gave away possessions that we never missed while they were packed. I simplified our lives and that helped my head begin to clear.
And when the news came just days later that my husband had a new job with a much higher-paying position, we were able to let out the breaths we hadn’t realized we’d been holding. I can’t say it was enough to throw cash at our doctors, but I can say that it allowed us to take out a medical loan without fear.
And when our next little blessing came in the form of twins, we laughed at the idea of shoving all of us into that tiny little house we’d picked. We were already going to be bursting at the seams with two children; three would have been incredibly uncomfortable. And so now I’m home with our house full of children, and we count our pennies and couponing has become a necessity. But we’ve never been happier and life has never felt more fulfilling. Our path was already carved and all we’d really had to do was faithfully follow it.