I am captivated listening to friends talking sentimentally about their childhood homes. The houses embody such fond memories for them that they can’t bear the thought of their parents moving out and some other family living there.
“I felt like a piece of me was taken away,” one pal told me when her mother sold her house.
I’m enthralled by this talk because I have no attachment whatsoever to the home where I grew up. I’ll never forget the day we moved in, when I was three years old and my sister, Shelley, was a baby. The brand new, three-bedroom, three-floor house seemed so big, after living in an old apartment.
The house became smaller and smaller as I became bigger and bigger and a third daughter joined the family. My father’s satellite dental office took over the basement so there was nowhere to retreat besides my tiny 7-by-12 foot bedroom. The small living room led into a petite dining room and an even tinier kitchen. The five of us shared one bathroom on the top floor and, in turn, we shared the mini half bathroom on the ground floor with my father’s patients.
About five years after we moved in, my folks decided to replace the wood back porch with a “back room,” which temporarily made me feel like we were the richest people on the block. I could finally leave my claustrophobic bedroom when I needed to get away from my never-ending homework. When we sat in our shorts on the stiff, vinyl-upholstered sectional sofas during the hot weather, the backs of our legs stuck to them.
We rarely gathered around the table, as a family, for dinner and chatter about our day. My sisters, mother and I ate TV dinners on metal TV trays, in front of the TV, in the “back room.” After dinner, I retreated to my bedroom to continue my homework. My dad arrived home at precisely 8:40 every night, gobbled down his meal and went downstairs to his awaiting patients. We hardly ever enjoyed relaxing family times, all together, at home. My dad worked incessantly and my mother wasn’t one to take us to her bosom to read fairytales or ask us about our dreams.
I guess part of the reason I never strongly connected with this home where I grew up is because nothing in it made me feel warm, cozy and secure; not the furniture, not my parents, not the routine of our day-to-day lives. Once I left the house, after I married at 21, it took me many years to learn how to gain the security I never felt as a child.
A year after my father died, in 1989, my mother sold the house. I did return a few times over the years to take a look at the neighborhood and to see how the new family changed the exterior and if I could feel anything close to sentimental. I tried, but I couldn’t.
A couple of years ago, I decided to knock on the door and invite myself in when a man appeared. He gracefully took me on a tour of every corner. I tried to envision my younger self in each room. I couldn’t. Again, I tried to muster up nostalgic feelings. Nothing.
I miss my mom and my dad. Maybe the kids who grew up in the house after us will miss it. That house needs some loving.
Tell me how you feel about your childhood home
0 Responses to “Do You Miss Your Childhood Home?”
My first home was a small pre war (WW2) house on Long Island. All the homes on the street were similar in size. It was a wonderful neighborhood to grow up in. I had many friends and we played “street games” on our block from morning till night. Those of you who don’t remember what street games were in the 50’s missed an important part of your childhood.
When I was older we moved to a new and much bigger house in the same town and I lost contact with my many friends.
My first house was similar to the one pictured in this blog. Sitting on the curb was a wonderful way to meet and greet friends and neighbors and I remember that at about 5-6 PM each evening there would be shouts from Moms and Dads from each house to simply “come in” for dinner.
The photo in this blog shows two sisters sitting together at the curb during the summer just enjoying their very own concrete seats. What’s so amazing is that the smallest girl on the left in the photo became my wife and the love of my life. I wish I had grown up in her community so that I would have known her even longer.
So we have our home together now in a small neighborhood and I don’t think we have ever sat on our concrete seats-our curb. Most kids don’t sit on curbs anymore. Too bad. Hey, Shell, want to sit out there when you get home?
Geri Brin says:
Love your description, but what do you mean, the smallest girl on the left?
I would love to live in my childhood home. It was small, but it sat on 1 acre so there was room to expand and stlll have a large beautiful back yard.
Diane Hinkle says:
The house where I was raised from the age of 6 was a special place. It was on three acres; it was a large two story stucco. We moved in in 1948 and my mother stayed there until 1988…just a few shy of 50 years. There was nothing really special about the house itself but it had four bedrooms and two baths, one up and one down, which was unusual for that time. What my sisters and I loved were the woods and all the little critters that lived there. I learned to identify about all the trees of East Tennessee by leaf and bark, learned to identify all the birds by sight and sound. We had wild flowers: jacks-in-the pulpits, blood root, wild columbine, pinks, myrtle, thousands of daffodils, you name it. In the summers we would always have a turtle for a friend. Sometimes a green snake. It never had air conditioning and I wonder sometimes how we did make it in some of the sweltering summers, but we did. I dream about that house and wish I had the money to buy it back. It has fallen into disrepair and is now covered in aluminum siding. I know things change but I wish I could go back and it would be just as it was when we left it. Lots of memories, good and bad, still are with me. I did truly love that old house!
Geri Brin says:
Does anyone now live in your old house?
My childhood home is extremely special to me. My two sisters and I were born and raised in the charming three bed cape cod house that my mother dreamed of owning when she was a newlywed. Our house was filled with warm family memories and was always the place where friends and neighbors came for holidays, warm summer nights on the screened-in porch, and a fun place to play barbies in my bedroom with all the neighborhood girls. As we got older, married and had children, they were also fortunate enough to spend time in the house and share our memories. My mother loved her house so much that she told us she wanted to die in the house when the time came. Unfortunately, the time came 3 yrs. ago and she died peacefully in her bedroom in her “dream house”. We sold the house that summer and it was equally hard on me as when my parents died. Fifty years after my parents bought the house it was sold to a young couple who will hopefully raise a family there and also have the special memories that my family had. Even though I live just a few miles away, I have not been able to drive past the house since it sold because I miss it so much!
Geri Brin says:
A wonderful story. It is heart warming to read your wishes for the new young couple in the house, even though you still miss it so much. Thank you for sharing this with all of us.
I didn’t much care for either of the two houses I grew up in – one was so dark I called it the Mausoleum, and in the other my bedroom was fairly tiny and next to the garbage cans. But still, I feel strongly that we need a national holiday, during which we can revisit every place we ever lived – to see if we remember them correctly, and to see what other people have done with them. I admire your spunk, and I envy your experience in touring your previous home; I’m too timid to do the same (so far, that is).
Geri Brin says:
I smiled when I read “Mausoleum” because our house was dark, too. As a matter of fact, my mother had one of the living room windows bricked in.
Your idea of a national holiday to tour our homes is such fun, but don’t wait for the holiday. Go for it, now.
Geri Brin says:
I loved reading your comment. You “paint” a lovely picture. Thank you for taking the time to write it.
I loved the home I grew up in. We did have a lot of family meals and time around the tv. And I had my own room large room (the house was/is an old Victorian, built in 1830). The back yard was huge and had a woods behind it, and I was always finding horse shoes and rusty bits. It was wonderful. If things had worked out, I would have bought it from my siblings when my father died, but alas it didn’t. I do miss it and often dream about it.