We gathered the kids around the dining room table. “You all know how tight the money’s been around here,” Nate started. “We’ve tried to cut back every way we could. Some of you have had to drop out of college. All of you have jobs. We don’t go on vacations or buy new cars anymore. But this stuff hasn’t been enough.
There is one thing, though, that we could do…” he faltered… “that would help us alot… that we’re going to have to do.” He paused. “We need to sell our house.”
After a hush during which I was sure I heard the roll of thunder, Birgitta, 13, responded with horror on her face.
“You mean MOVE?!”
My personal tears anticipating this moment had been shed days before, during prayer times for the kids looking at us now. My hope had been to remain tearless at that moment and speak light into the storm cloud forming.
“Maybe we’ll move to the country,” I chirped in a voice too high to be mine. “Weezi, you might get your own horse!” Our 15 year old looked at me through eyes full of tears, pursing her lips to hold back a sob… and words.
Nelson, 31, having moved out long ago, pulled toward optimism by pointing out how the four brothers could use country acreage to store rattle-trap cars and non-functioning go-carts. Although we appreciated his try, our main focus was the younger kids, and they were not doing well.
Getting through our half-hour meeting was like trying to swallow a pill that refused to go down. Reality sometimes bites, and it was biting our children. Although we’d been tempted to sugar-coat the news, we thought it better to let them have the whole truth, bitter that it was.
Five of our seven children had known no other home. The oldest two had only a handful of early memories of our prior house. As we watched their facial expressions define different inner struggles, it felt like we were yanking baby bunnies from the safety and familiarity of their snug burrow.
“Do we absolutely have to move? Who will buy our house? When will we have to leave? Will we take the animals? Will I have my own room?”
Our only accurate answer was, “We don’t know.”
The contract was formalized, and a FOR SALE sign went up in the yard. Gradually, over weeks and eventually months, resistance melted. Our address didn’t change. Other than occasional visitors marching through the rooms with clipboards, family life continued on.
Little did we know that by the time a serious buyer with a healthy checkbook would finally surface four years later, most of us would have come to believe the house would never sell, and we would never move.