I can’t help but smile as I’m writing this on my patio. I'm surrounded by our serene garden filled with some of the most beautiful birds you could ever imagine (who tend to be pretty loud at times as well) and my dog who occasionally freaks out at the deer passing through my neighbor's yard.
Not the garden he formerly owned with his ex-wife. This is our garden and our home. One that we picked together and have made cherished memories in ever since.
Only now do I realize how important it’s been to have a place that’s ours and not theirs. Way back then, I would’ve said it was soooo not an issue. The home had been completely renovated, or so I’d explicitly been told on multiple occasions.
And it was to an extent. The heart of the house - the kitchen, dining and living room - was torn apart. It's in the middle of being re-done when I first walked in with all my belongings packed into two suitcases. I had been made part of the renovation process while lounging in my apartment in Rotterdam, thousands of kilometers away. I’d been giving my opinions via Skype on things from kitchen hardware to which shade of paint should go on the wall. (as if you can really tell on a computer screen).
After I packed my life into two bags, boarded a plane to Canada and stepped into their house everything was a blur, mostly because I was just so jet lagged. I also knew that this time around I wasn’t there for a vacation. I was in Canada to stay. And as I write this post and sort through hundreds of memories I’m brought back to our home. My first home in Canada, where I would pull up into the driveway on a late sunny summer afternoon and watch the kids run to the trampoline waiting on me to join. It was all about the double bounce back then.
But my first home in Canada was also their first home as a married couple. Every once in awhile those thoughts would creep in and just shake me up a little.
If those walls could speak, they would tell me all about the family that once lived there. From when they first viewed the house, moved in and started ripping walls down. To all the birthday celebrations, family gatherings, laughter and love. They would tell about my stepchildren’s milestones, the first day of kindergarten, tantrums and everything in between all the way to their split.
That house had seen it all.
And then I moved in trying so hard to make their house feel like our home with some new furniture, which was needed anyway, and some of my personal touches.
Moving wasn’t on our mind. This was the home the kids had grown up in and the same home that was located so conveniently close to the school. Images of their family in that house didn’t appear often and when they did I quickly tucked it away. I kept telling myself that this was our home now. And I also had no desire to move my stepkids from a home they were so attached to.
So, yes, I get it. It can be hard to live in the house your partner shared with his ex-wife. It's also not always easy to move, moving will cost you some serious cash - in BC, Canada anyways - which some of us cannot always afford or aren't willing to fork over. Plus there are so many other factors to consider. But It’s also totally doable to make it feel like your home with some time and your personal touch to make it feel like your home. It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel with a coat of paint that you picked together, some rearranging and decorating.
Also, give yourself time to create your own memories with your stepfamily. It makes a world of a difference and we were only just at that tipping point when we decided it was time to leave.
Whether it was an issue or not, when the kids changed schools and needed a 25-minute drive each way, twice a day, we quickly had the house on the market and were on the hunt for a new place.
The beauty of moving out of their house.
The excitement of looking at homes online and visiting open houses will never get old for me. I just love viewing homes and might even be a little geeky in this regard. Thank you, Pinterest for all those Ah-Ma-Zing floor plans!
Many evenings and some late nights were spent with a glass of wine, browsing through online listings, discussing where we envisioned settling down and what we wanted out of a house, with music playing in the background and the kids fast asleep.
...Or we were on Skype again because my husband was at work in Europe and I was home alone. This was way less romantic.
Either way, it worked. We found a house that we loved and suited all our needs, and the joy of getting an accepted offer on the old place was amazing! Looking back, I know this was the right move for us. Commute or no commute, it was something that should have happened.
Our new home, was just that, ours. Not formerly theirs. There is nothing to point at in this house that will rehash an old memory. Although, I love hearing all about their life before I came into the picture. I also love that it’s not in my face 24/7. The new house gave us a fresh start to create a home together, a home that their mom doesn't know all the ins and outs of.
So as I sit here on my patio, I can’t help smiling (and sweating, because it’s 35+ degrees). We’ve put our hearts and souls into our house. I now know this was one of the best decisions we’ve made for our relationship and family.