Having a house on the market while you’re still living in it is a lot of work. With four kids, two dogs, and a guinea pig to contend with, the work seems exponentially larger. I must admit, though, that this time isn’t as tough as the last time. When we had four kids under the age of 6, selling a house was much more challenging. The toys… oh, the toys! And my mental state… oh, my mental state! Back then, I think my kids spent more time strapped in their car seats while I ran willy-nilly throughout the house than they did in the comfort of their own abode.

When we put the house on the market in December, I wasn’t quite ready. Yes, my head knew it was time. But my heart hadn’t yet caught up. Then our realtor extraordinaire suggested we start packing things up, thinning things out, de-cluttering. “You’re moving, anyway. Might as well get some of the work done ahead of time.”

And so we packed and purged and invited Amvets to come take the piles of “stuff” we hadn’t looked at in years.

Then our “stager” came over and suggested a mere three pages of changes we could make to help our house show better. And so, we took down the kids’ wall murals, moved some excess furniture to the garage, removed all our personal pictures.

The house doesn’t seem quite like home anymore.

Slowly but surely, it’s morphing into a place where we rest our heads at night, but one that we’re not so attached to anymore. Once we removed all of our personal items, it made the prospect of letting go a bit more palatable.

I think, in many ways, it’s like raising kids. I always worried about how I was going to kiss them each goodbye on their first day of kindergarten. When the time came, however, they were ready, I was ready, the goodbyes were not bittersweet, but tinged with excitement and adventure. I often wonder what it will feel like to send my kids off to college. But when I talk to my friends who have already traveled that path, they say, “You’ll be ready. God works mysteriously that way. You’ll want to kick your lazy, sullen teenager out of the nest so he can spread his wings and make his own way in the world.”

And so, I suppose, it will be when they find the loves of their lives and walk down the aisle — when they gift me with new daughters-in-law, with a new son-in-law. And then Chris and I will stand hand in hand ready to travel, to visit grandbabies, to revel in the silence and serenity that we knew in the early years of our marriage.

Selling a house is a bit like raising children. The little goodbyes, when they come, aren’t quite as heartbreaking as we once imagined. When it’s time to move on, there’s no sense in holding tightly to what used to be. Embracing what is yet to come with open arms and trust and courage is the only way to grow.

The more we neutralize the place we call home, the less it feels like home. Every time we take down a family picture, a tiny bit of our future is revealed to us — the future that exists outside these four walls. With every passing day, with every showing, the adventure that awaits us becomes more apparent.

And I am becoming — bit by bit — more ready to embrace it.

When we walk out of this house for the final time, I will take hold of my children’s hands (at least the ones who won’t scoff at me when I do it. Okay, Mary Claire is the only one will hold my hand…), grab my husband by the heart, and fly.

With every passing day, my wings are growing stronger.

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