It was a big day in so many ways.
It was our first home. It required sacrifices and represented a lot of hard work.
In southern California, even now with the fall in the housing market, buying a house on a single income is a challenge.
I don't take any of the credit.
Aaron worked, saved, and figured until I thought he might loose his mind, or his hair. He helped us see we had to leave the neighborhood we loved and make a financially responsible decision. It was a hard reality to face.
We bought a fixer. Aside from some sad 70s "upgrades" to the bathroom and kitchen, it hadn't been touched much. On the one hand, we liked that, but on the other, it meant a lot of cleaning up to do.
For 5 long weeks, the kids and I lived down in Fallbrook with my parents. Aaron stayed here, slept on an air mattress, amidst power tools and paint buckets. He worked all day and came home and worked until late at night.
My dad came up each week and stayed until he couldn't take another night of the air mattress and fast food dinners. He scrubbed down the walls of every room and threw bucket after bucket of black, grimy water into the yard. He put 4 coats of white paint on our kitchen cabinets and was really sick of our kitchen after a short time.
Aaron and his dad tore out our carpeting the night we bought the house so the beautiful wood floors that were hiding underneath could be refinished.
They tried to rip out the ugly, brown linoleum in the kitchen, but it was a force too strong for them.
This house was a labor of love, even before we bought it.
Although the house wasn't nearly done (it still isn't, and I don't know if it ever will be) we were ready to come home and be a family again. And I think my mom was ready to have her house and her husband back. There was plywood on the bathroom floor and no sink. No door knobs and unpainted trim in every room. There was dust and dirt everywhere.
But my sweet husband had some people come to clean the house so I wouldn't have to clean the house before I unpacked.
Trouble was, they did a terrible job. So I was on my hands and knees scrubbing my brand new, beautiful red linoleum in the midst of unpacking and bringing in furniture from the garage. I noticed a long, deep scratch.
I wanted to cry. Not only did they not clean my house, but they scratched my new floor too. (the scratch is gone, by the way. Linoleum is self healing.)
It was hard not to be overwhelmed by all the work that needed to be done still. And I don't just mean the unpacking.
But I just had to look at those roses, sitting on the counter in a paint bucket, with the keys to our very first house. It helped me have a little perspective.
Aaron and I began dating when I was 18. We've been married almost 12 years. We grew up together. We're still growing up. We're raising our family and trying to focus on the important things.
This may only be a house in the suburbs, but it is our home.
And that, is much more important than anything else.
I want our children to know this and to know the deep love that went into making this house into a home for them. I want them to know the sacrifices their Daddy has made for them. I want to remember.
We live in a world caught up in the unimportant things. I fall prey to it all the time. I want this. I want that. At the same time, I tell my children to love people for who they are and that having lots of stuff doesn't matter.
It's what's inside that counts.