As of this week, it’s nine years since we moved into our current house.
A lot has changed in that time. Not least the fact that we have gone from zero to three kids.
Those nine years have seen a lot of visible, tangible changes. We have repainted or renovated every room other than the master bedroom. The kitchen and family bathroom have been completely replaced. Our double garage is now the kids’ playroom. Woodwork bears the physical scars where door- or stair-gates once stood.
And, of course, what felt like a ridiculously large house initially – more toilets than occupants! – now seems not small by any means, but certainly smaller.
More importantly, though, many of the key changes in the past nine years are more subtle. These are the things that have turned our house into a home.
Of course, everywhere you look there is evidence of the kids. I don’t just mean the toys and clothes scattered on the floor or the freezer full of pizzas, McCain potato smiles and ice lollies. Some reminders are physical but barely register on our consciousness on a day-to-day basis: the matching set of hand and footprints (all taken at seven weeks old) that hang together on the landing upstairs or the black-and-white head-shots of a two-month old Isaac pulling comical wide-eyed expressions.
Other things are more intangible. When we moved in to our cul-de-sac we were the strangers joining a little community who had all moved in to new-build houses together. Now we’re established members, our kids play with the neighbours’ and go to the same school and little impromptu street parties regularly break out on summer weekend evenings, accompanied by much beer and prosecco. We belong.
Pre-family, our house was a base of operations – a place where we laid our weary heads to rest at night. Now it’s very much the centre of our family’s little universe – the place we all gravitate back towards, where most of our kids’ friends now are and the site of many adventures both big (two of our three children were born under this roof) and small.
Are there things I would like to change about our house? Yes, of course. Unless you live in Buckingham Palace, aren’t there always? (And I bet the Queen wouldn’t mind doing something about all the traffic that drives past her front door.) But as a home, I wouldn’t change very much at all. It is as full of memories as it is of Lego, toy cars, Julia Donaldson books and Frozen and Minecraft merchandise.
Nine years on, is this our dream house? No. But is it our dream home? Yes, I think so.
By the way, our house is nothing like this but I thought I’d include it anyway because it’s just a brilliant song and video …