Home is a state of internal being — at least, that’s what I tried to tell myself, since I’ve moved six times in the last eight years. That means my longevity in any one place is shorter than the honeymoon phase of the average relationship.
Fortunately, I’ve lived through all these moves with the same person, and it’s made our relationship stronger. With a growing family, I finally found a house to put down roots in, and I definitely don’t feel like I’m settling. My sense of home is as full as my life now, and I can be Queen Bee of my little hive. The hum of home is sweet in one place.
The Unfolding Stages of My Once-Nomadic Life
At first glance, moving six times in eight years looks excessive. You probably think I’m some techie millennial who’s lived in Dubai and swam with whales in at least three oceans while blogging about it. Nope. Not me—my writerly vices include mindfulness and mamahood.
Looking back over the timeline, each of these six major moves coincided with a shift in need and people in my life, especially as I increasingly looked outside myself. Home was less of a physical location than the people I lived with—but now, I’m bringing kiddos into the world. When we’re little, our parents are our home, but we also tend to put down roots in a physical home. As I reflect, I take in powerful lessons about my journey to womanhood and motherhood, and how my relationships have impacted my life for the better.
- The College Apartment: Will Boyfriend and I Survive?
Dorms mean the death of privacy. Sharing the college experience on campus with your peers deepens your social relationships as you talk until the wee hours of the morning, but you also have awkward moments where quasi-strangers see you naked. You may have trouble focusing on academics with all of the ruckus—similar to starting a family, come to think of it.
My first major move meant moving into an apartment with my then-boyfriend (and future husband) while in college. I was going to conquer my subjects and grow closer to my man. The ultimate test of any relationship is living together and dealing with each other’s habits—crusty socks do not belong on the dinner table.
Did we survive? Yes, and he proposed, which meant taking a few steps back to move forward.
- Moving in With the In-Laws: Will the Foursome Get Along?
With our degrees in hand and new wedding rings on our fingers, we had to leave the college apartment behind. Adulting called us to take the next step up—from poor college students in love to husband and wife, with their own home and awesome careers.
That meant saving money to get a place, which meant moving in with my in-laws. Luckily, they liked me enough to allow me to marry their offspring and live in their house. It’s the ultimate cliché of the millennial generation—returning to live with Mom and Dad. It was also the smart reason, and though inviting, it was their home. They welcomed and encouraged us to find the place that fit us as a young married couple because home reflects the people taking up residence there.
- The New Apartment: Making Our Way as Newlyweds
Here, finally, is what Hubster and I had worked so hard for—he and I earned this home with our hard-earned money not granted to us through the privilege of college. His parents struggled as a young couple, too, and expressed happiness for us reaching this milestone.
We made a plan for how we would decorate and who would get rid of what, because a one-bedroom apartment can feel claustrophobic. You need your own space to express yourselves and make your way as newlyweds. Our new apartment reflected the place and identity of ourselves at the time, as well as what we hoped to achieve. Our careers grew, and so did our love.
- Back at the In-Laws: Because Caring Is What Family Does
We struggled along the way, but my husband and I carved out a good living for ourselves in our apartment. At this point, you may guess we had a setback and moved back in with the in-laws, but the narrative doesn’t always go that way. Instead, they needed our support.
They were there for us. Design-wise, most people think of apartments as temporary dwellings, anyway, and it’s easier to get out of than a mortgage. You don’t want to leave somewhere you put roots down, so we learned to reduce our clutter by getting rid of what we didn’t need any longer. We moved in with priority boxes focused on essential needs at the last minute to help them out, because caring is what family does.
- Townhouse: This New Mama Needed Space
Moving back in with my in-laws taught me the beauty of minimalism, but when I got pregnant, we needed more space. An apartment wouldn’t do, and we had some savings but still contributed to the in-laws. A house remained out of the picture, but we developed a stretch goal plan to save money by cutting out cable and paying bills online, which made making those crazy student loan payments on time possible.
With one tiny human on the way, we picked out the perfect little townhouse, happy to know the only pitter-patters we would hear belonged to our family.
- Our First House: Our Home
A townhouse still felt temporary, and kids need room to run and play. That’s right—kids. We planned to grow our family, and as our savings grew, so did our confidence in the house hunt. Slowly, we paid down our student debt, and our automated savings helped us reserve a decent nest egg for the down payment.
The feeling of owning and moving into a house excited and overwhelmed us. Now, a second tiny human grows another limb of our family tree, deepening our roots and interconnectivity. Home is where the heart is.
Jennifer Landis is a wife, mama, writer and healthy living blogger. She drinks tea in excess, has a collection of peanut butter, and is a super nerd at heart. Find more from Jennifer on her blog, Mindfulness Mama, or follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis