Eric and I stood in the bare living room, grinning at each other. We had just received the keys to our new home, the first property either of us has owned. We were saying good-bye to cramped apartment living, chain-smoking neighbors and car alarms that consistently blared in the middle of the night.
We had ordered pizza because that’s what you do the first night in your new place. Finn and Edie had been sprinting in circles, taking advantage of all the space and complete lack of furniture.
We weren’t going to spend the night; we had hardly begun packing, in fact. We were just about to head back to the apartment when we changed Peeper’s diaper.
Then—but of course—she peed on the floor.
The house was officially ours.
Moving into New House, as Peeper calls it, was definitely the biggest change as she turned 19 months old. Her enthusiasm for her home hasn’t dulled: She still excitedly talks about “New House” when we drive or walk home; she still peeks out the windows looking for cats or birds or Lady, the neighbor who sometimes sits on the porch; and she still loves running in circles in the spacious living room.
Moving with a toddler was even more harrowing than moving in general, but Peeper added her own fun to the process. She climbed in and out of cardboard boxes and was mesmerized by popping bubble wrap. And all those boxes that still sit full of kitchen gear and extra toiletries? They’re just additional canvases for her works of art.
Perhaps Peeper’s favorite thing about New House is the ease with which we go on walks. Instead of pulling dog, kid and BOB stroller down the stairs to go on a stroll, I simply roll us out of the garage. Our street is quiet—a car drives by about every half-hour—so she can walk and explore without my having a heart attack every time I hear an engine nearby. And we’re within walking distance or an easy drive to gorgeous parks and hiking trails.
We spend many of our days, then, outside. Peeper picks up rocks on the street, pets the neighbors’ stone frog statues, colors with chalk and watches the construction where a pair of new homes are being built. She also loves jumping in puddles, tromping through ivy and—yes—searching for Yeti when we hit the trail. (We’ve yet to find him, but the hunt continues!)
I’m sure Peeper picks up on how happy her parents are to call New House home. I wake up with that vacation-in-paradise feeling every day—you know, thinking, “I’m so grateful to be here.” But I’m certain that her happiness is her own, too.
This is the kind of childhood I’m unspeakably grateful to offer Peeper: A little room to run around, the reassurance of growing up in a safe community, pride and ownership of where you put down roots.
Welcome home, indeed.