When my daughter was a few months old, my husband built a little white fence around our back patio. It had a little gate to keep her from the pool and a built in bench for us to sit on. We spent many mornings and afternoon on the patio. The little white fence created the perfect area for us to play and spend time outside. Last week, almost ten years later, my daughter and I were back on the patio. This time we had paint brushes in our hands, ready to give the little white fence and bench a fresh coat of paint. We haven’t lived in this house for seven years, but there are reminders of our time here all around. The lemon tree we planted never produced one lemon in three years, but now the branches are dripping with lemons waiting to ripen. Our next door neighbor is still as sweet as can be and welcomes us as if she just saw us yesterday. The mesquite tree I trimmed when I was eight months pregnant (I think I was nesting, literally) is now taller than I can reach. The pedestal sink brought with us from California, is still the perfect finishing touch in the downstairs bathroom.
We picked up our paint rollers and put a fresh coat of white paint over the bench and the top of the fence. It looked better, fresher and hopefully just the right touch for a prospective buyer. Tired of painting, my daughter retreated back into the house. I looked closer and saw that the job was really not done. By painting only the top, the slats now looked a dirty and the chips more pronounced. I took my roller and added a fresh coat of paint to each of the slats. Pressed for time, I painted over the chips and cracks, knowing that the fresh paint would help them blend in. The paint covered them but if you looked close enough you could see them beneath the surface. It made me think about how easy it is to paint over our feelings. Instead of taking the time to look at the crack, figure out what caused it and fix the source, it’s much easier to keep on going, gloss over it and pretend it’s not there. Eventually the sun, rain and wind will cause the paint on the fence to fade. The chips and cracks will surface again, more pronounced this time and a little harder to cover up. How many of us go through our days/weeks/months putting on fresh coats of paint, but never really fixing the source of the chip or crack?
After I finish, I look around once again. This house is still full of wonderful memories, but there is also a piece of me that feels like it was a long time ago. Though it’s still ours in name, it’s no longer ours in spirit. I think about how much we love our new neighborhood, our new neighbors and all the hours I’ve saved not having to commute eighty miles a day. When we moved it was hard. We had so many firsts in this house, so many memories. It would have been easy to hold back and stay in our comfort zone, but we knew deep down that moving was the right thing to do. Even when there were signs telling us to stay, the real estate market shifted and instead of selling we became landlords, we stuck with our gut and took a leap of faith. What is your gut telling you - is it time to take a leap?
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I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.