We’re Gonna Need Bigger Hats :: Making Houston Home

My walls are bare, I never unpacked the good dishes, and I still don’t know my neighbor’s name.

{Their dog’s name is Buddy; I’m not a complete jerk.}

We’ve been living in Houston for almost two years. I officially don’t need help finding a post office or shaded playground. And I know three coffee shops that offer liquor with their pastries. 

I’m set. 

But it still doesn’t feel like home. I’m terrified it never will. That’s why dust remains on the unpacked boxes. 

We're Gonna Need Bigger Hats :: Making Houston Home | Houston Moms Blog

Temporary.

This word haunts me, interrupts my dreams, and spits in my face when I dare to try to pick out paint colors.

I have seldom made it past two years and a day, in one house. And for the first time, it’s not a habit I would like to repeat. 

I use to love this nomadic life. I’m pretty good at wandering and have done so the majority of my life. I have attended ten different schools, moved across the country the day after I graduated college, moved overseas with a six month old baby, and by the time my son turns five next month, he will have lived in five different houses. 

Home isn’t something I feel; it’s just the place we store our groceries in between moves. 

When I was younger, I was fearless and seldom doubted myself after a big move. And I enjoyed how temporary it all was :: go to a new city, love it hard, peace out when things get boring.

But as a mother, my fantasies and courage have changed. And my son wants to paint his room blue with orange stars.

He just wants something of his own. A way to leave his mark. Screw that renter’s agreement. 

We're Gonna Need Bigger Hats :: Making Houston Home | Houston Moms Blog

It’s time to set down our scattered roots. And it’s time to let go of that crazy dream of having my children grow up near their family and my hometown best buds, going to the same cinema that I saw Titanic 27 times in, and suppressing daily glee from seeing my offspring running around my old school; that’s not the life we have chosen. So, I need to learn how to make this life, just as beautiful as the one I’ve had in my head. 

But it’s hard to make a place magical when you haven’t been there long enough to embrace it’s quirks and trust your grocer. When an old, run-down building doesn’t dredge up nostalgia and giggles, but fear and worry.

I wasn’t a young girl here. There weren’t picnics and adventures with my cousins. I didn’t have story time at the local library or trick or treat down these streets. I don’t even know what their football fields look like at night. 

I’ve never had to defend its beauty to a visitor. I am that visitor. And I just don’t see what you see.

Yet.

But I’m willing to look closer. 

We're Gonna Need Bigger Hats :: Making Houston Home | Houston Moms Blog

There’s also the guilt—I’m a mother, I can find five new things to feel guilty about before noon—but there’s also the envy. I can’t even blame Facebook for that. 

The guilt stems from not being able to provide the same kind of life for my children like the one they would have if we were living in my hometown. The one where I have more help, less stress, and family and friends that have committed to attend every birthday party for at least the next 12 years.

Here, in another new city, I have no guarantee that the 21 invitations that each child in my son’s class received will ever guarantee an actual appearance.

And those are not odds I am willing to gamble with. 

We're Gonna Need Bigger Hats :: Making Houston Home | Houston Moms Blog

We have decided to buy {for the first time!} in Houston. My oldest is about to start school {it’s totally normal to spontaneously cry about this a few times a day, right?} and I am DONE with renting {just replace the stove, Debbie!}

I sincerely believe buying our first home in this city will create its own little magic and help us feel like a part of the community. 

Also, I want a garden. Let’s not dismiss the importance of homegrown tomatoes. 

And I need to let go of the life I’ve built up and romanticized in my head, the one where everything is familiar and easy, because that was never the life I was going to lead. I need to take a chance with the mom groups and writer meet-ups and give Kroger a shot. 

In all this soul/new home searching, I’ve realized that as amazing as my own childhood was, we also moved fairly often and were seldom near our extended family. My mother, saint that she is, made our lives so colorful, exciting, and full that it took until writing this very post to make me realize how similar our lives have been. And how familiar I’ve become with the worries she probably had while we were growing up in new cities. 

So, I did what any good southern chick would; I called my mom and asked her for advice. 

We're Gonna Need Bigger Hats :: Making Houston Home | Houston Moms Blog

In her own words, I give you, the brilliance of my beautiful mother :: How to make any place a “home”. 

1) “Emphasize the treasured moments from your own childhood. For us, that was finding the library as soon as we moved to a new area. Some of my favorite memories are from reading with my mother and years later, reading with my children. And libraries provide you with upcoming community events and easy opportunities to get involved–not to mention, having your own library card is pretty powerful for a child. ” 

2) “Explore nature. Find trails and play in the dirt as much as possible. It will open their minds and it is always waiting for you, no matter where you move.” 

3) “Arts & crafts time! Crafting can happen anywhere and you can literally carry your projects with you for as long as you need.”

4) “When it comes to your actual home, make it cozy. Everyone needs their quiet place, but also a special place to connect with their family. We did this with our love of movie watching. Gathering in the living room with shared excitement, a big popcorn bowl, and too many pillows can ease most worries.” 

5) “Keep your traditions alive. Introduce them to your neighborhood. Show your children how to celebrate. Pacque your eggs, girl.”  

6) “Step out of your box. Talk to everyone. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.” 

Here’s hoping I’m even half the mom mine was. And that my children and those tomatoes grow just as well in our new home

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