Our Home Becomes A House

As I write these words, I’m sitting on the carpeted floor of my living room – the furniture removed – surrounded by filled boxes and empty walls.

We lived here. And our life was here.

That life is going to continue, but just in a different city.

We can talk more about that adventure later. But tonight all I can think about is what happened between these walls.

Our home has returned to being a house. Just as it was when we moved in over seven years ago – totally empty, but filled with the hope and promise of the future.

Back then, we had no kids; our first was on the way and would be born five days after we arrived here.

We took possession of a house and made it our home.

I’m sitting here looking around and smiling at the memories popping from every corner. I remember a kid’s birthday party where all the guests decorated cookies on a tablecloth spread around the kitchen floor. I remember my daughter’s first words (“Hi, Dada!”). I remember the Star Wars trilogy marathon with all our kids (and how we fast-forwarded most of the movie because it was a biiiiiiiiiit too scary). I remember all the times grilling my signature meal (turkey burgers, corn, sweet potato chips) while holding a strong cocktail. I remember dragging the kids on sleds around the backyard. I (mostly) remember all of our adults-only bounce-house parties. I remember walking to the subway station and I remember all the daycare pickups and I remember the sick kids and I remember the tears and the laughs and the joy.

Our family happened within these walls. We moved in as a married couple with

person giving keys on man
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a dog. We leave with three kids – and the dog. Everything else was here.

And now we are leaving.

But our home goes with us. The house stays behind for someone else to have a turn. And make memories. And host parties. And maybe raise a family if they want.

It’s a good house. It made for a great home.

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“I Love You All The Love”

1528556_10152123734075148_564563917_nEvery single day, I tell all of our children the same thing:

I love you all the love.

[As in, all the love that does, has ever, or will ever exist…that’s how much I love you.]

Maybe it’s just a media thing, but how many stories/movies/shows have you seen where the dads can’t mutter “I love you?”

And the fallback response is “they know how I feel.”

Do they, though?

Do kids know how you feel about them if you don’t explicitly tell them?

My hypothesis (driven by no actual science, but by life as a parent of three kids and as a son who heard his dad say he loved him all the time) is that there is no way they can know unless you constantly tell them.

Case in point: Two years ago, my daughter made me watch all three Madagascar movies…about 25 times each, not exaggerating. Now she does not remember them at all. I’ll repeat: she does not remember movies

Us parents, though, we remember what happened two years ago. I will never be able to get certain scenes from those movies out of my head.

As kids grow, they lose their earlier memories and the only reality they know is what is presented to them. By you.

And sometimes it may get cumbersome. Like this recent chat I had with Beanie:

 

Me: Beanie, I love you.

Beanie: DADDY! I know that already. You don’t need to tell me that EVERY DAY!

Me: Yes, I do need to tell you. What if you don’t know?

Beanie: How about this? I’ll tell you the days that I forget that you love me and you can tell me then.

Me: ……………………..I love you.

Beanie: DADDYYYYYY!!!!!!!

Here’s the thing, though: I don’t care. I don’t care how old they get. I don’t care if it embarrasses them in front of their friends. I don’t care if they want nothing to do with me that day.

All I care about is that they know – on each day, no matter what – that their dad loves them.

Ask Your Kids This Question Everyday

IMG_3529So many things in life go unsaid.

People fester in anger and shy away from authentic connections. It almost feels like human nature.

But as parents, we get to set the tone for how our kids interact with the world.

We ask them probing questions to understand what happened to them at school, how they are feeling, and what they are dreaming about. In order for us to guide them, nurture them, care for them, we need to have real talk with our kids.

“How was your day?” just doesn’t cut it. You have to ask them specific questions to get specific answers.

“What was the funniest thing that happened today?” “Who was your silliest friend today?” “If you could be anything when you grow up, what would it be?”

These engaging questions get kids, even young ones, to think analytically about their experiences, tell stories, and then build their future. These are conversation starters that are vital to understanding your kids.

Perhaps the biggest things that go unsaid are related to love.

The Best Mom and I decided that our kids would always know that we love them unconditionally. And, in our family, it would be frequently and explicitly stated.

Every single day, we ask them the same question, and they respond in turn:

“How much do Mommy and Daddy love you?”

“All the love!”

As vast an amount as they can imagine, we love them that much.

When we are proud of them, we love them all the love. When we are angry or frustrated with them, we love them all the love. At their highest high and lowest low, we love them all the love.

Everyday, we hug them, kiss them, LOVE THE SHIT OUT OF THEM. And take nothing for granted. We may THINK they know and understand how much we care for them, but we don’t really know.

Our goal is to create an environment of love and support in our family. A safe zone where they can grow and explore, knowing we will always have their back.

There will never be a day that goes by where our kids have any doubt how we feel about them. And they are part of it, just by answering one simple question.