Family Expectations And The Grass That Is Truly Greener

Sep 18, 2009

#The Early Years

I grew up in a suburb of Houston in a neighborhood with sidewalks and manicured lawns. I have fond memories of children riding our hot-wheels on the sidewalk, zipping up each driveway to someone’s house we all knew. Denise, Paul, Mercy, Carol. Kids spanning from 2nd grade to 6th, all mingling in the street playing basketball, riding bikes, coloring with chalk. The caste system of maturity as the older kids teased the younger and the younger kids gathering around toys.

This is my childhood and I love the memories. I can almost smell the air of a humid Saturday morning in October when the children begin to take to the sidewalk playing, knocking on doors, asking if so-and-so can come out to play.


My husband has a different memory.

My husband grew up on acreage in a tiny town in Washington State. Where rain and mud and large trees dominate his childhood. Where boys could explore for hours in a barn, watch the horses, and roll down large hills. He smells the pine and fresh air and instantly turns 8 in his head, playing trains and bikes and GI-Joes.

Each of our experiences influence our expectations for our own family. I see my children enjoying the company of others, playing in the front yard as I make dinner, calling to me that the neighbors are out chatting. My husband sees our children roaming a field of land, running in pine cones and leaves and mud.

We’re now looking for a house. It’s become evident we have a short opportunity of time to leave our tiny condo, expand our legs, and give each child a room of their own. It is now or never, in the words of our agent, and we have to move quickly.

It is now.

But as we look, searching, for the right place to live, the home we will keep for 10-15 years, for the duration of our childrens’ schooling and thus the majority of their childhood memories, we can’t get past our own happiness as a child. Land vs. Community. A newer home vs space.

We visit homes and the children marvel at the bedrooms. “It’s PINK already!” We watch as the kids run circles in the large yard running up and down the small hill. Laughing. Rolling. Smiling. We see neighbor kids playing and our children watching, wishing they could join in.

I know the lesson here. I know the conclusion. I know we are our own family, influenced by our parents but not tied by their experiences. We are a new family, full of new needs, new expectations. But we’re not so different from the family we belonged to back in 1979, or the houses we occupied. And in the end I know it’s the family, not the house, that creates the childhood memories to hold on to.

I just hope this family gets a house with a new kitchen. And a skylight.

And maybe a bit of land with large wet evergreens, because I believe in the American Dream.

We’re dreaming big. And the kids are dreaming with us.


  1. Best of luck with your house hunting.  It’s a little crazy to me that we moved into the house last year that we plan to live in for the next 20 or so (!?!?)  We decided to stay in a neighborhood for now, but the next purchase will be the 1,000 acres for the ranch.

    By TexasRed on 2009 09 18

  2. Oh the house.  The house that will be a home.  I understand these dreams.  We’ve been in ours for a few years now and I am emotionally attached to it in a ridiculous way.  In fact I wrote about it quite recently!!  Good luck with your home hunt!

    By Shawna on 2009 09 18

  3. Wow!  That’s great!  I really hope you find something you like!  I think to some extent you can have both.  I lived on a regular street and definitely had the “can so-and-so come play?” experience, but we also built tents out of sheets in the back yard, and dug holes in the ground and built tree-houses.  When you find a place, I hope you’ll share it with us!

    By Liz on 2009 09 18

  4. Oooh, exciting!  I wish I knew of someone that was selling what you’re looking for, but my aunt and uncle up in Everett are still kickin’ and enjoying their grandfathered-in farm (the clause is cancelled if the house leaves the family, boo), and my other relatives are way too far south. 

    Good luck finding an awesome house that’s just perfect for your family - even if it has shag carpeting or orange countertops (which can always be changed and provide lots of family jokes for years to come!).  :D

    By Lanna on 2009 09 19

  5. It’s funny because Alan and I are opposite you and your hubby. I grew up in the BOONAYS…truly the country, from the time I was about 7 on up through high school. Now I kind of get twitchy if we get too far from Target. My husband grew up in the burbs of our little country hometown.

    He and I both want to look for that house where our girls will spend their junior high (gasp) and high school years in about 3 years or so. He really longs to get out of the suburbs and I really long to get out a “little bit” but not too far from Target. wink

    Good luck finding your new home mama!

    By Jamie on 2009 09 19

  6. This is gorgeous, so evocative. And, I may have the answer. Here in the Adirondacks we have 4 exquisite seasons, verdant forests, homes with large parcels and friendly neighbors…bitchin’ kitchens too.

    By Amanda on 2009 09 20

  7. It is a hard decision! We were in a similar position, except both of us grew up in the ‘burbs. We both like land and space, but wanted our kids to have friends nearby. We settled on a nice neighborhood with woods to play in. We still second-guess ourselves though!

    By Kelsi on 2009 09 20

  8. Good luck with your search. My hub and I are like you and yours. Different ideas. It would make things tough for us to decide. I think that has something to do with the fact that he is stubborn…or maybe I am. No, He is.

    By Amber on 2009 09 21