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My hair was wildly large as were my plans for the next 20 minutes. We were showing our home to people who might like to buy it at 7:30pm, in the thick of post-dinner, pre-bed madness, the time when our children’s energy surges one last time before crashing for the night.

Andy vacuumed as I scrubbed colorful splatters and stickers off of the bathroom sink and walls. Not sure why I thought busting out the paints was a good way for my kids to occupy themselves while we cleaned. It certainly did occupy their time and it also documented my daughters’ creativity and feverish mark making. Ruby swaggered into the kitchen proudly proclaiming “WOOK MAMA!” and as she held up her glossy red left arm. I peeked around the corner to see that Margot had a matching appendage just as Ruby wrapped her left arm around my leg to stabilize herself. We had 12 minutes to make our home presentable. “Why don’t you two go outside until that paint dries?” I suggested.

Andy scooped up baby dolls and tossed them in a basket, “I think this is harder than moving, trying to get loan approval or any of that. Trying to sell a home we live in with small kids.”

I shoved shoes, books and blankets under the bed. I raked chicken poop into the garden beds and scooped up stray clothing from all over the yard. Andy pried peanut butter off the counter and secured the office light fixture to the ceiling. Four minutes to go. I whispered swears as I heaved a mountain of clean laundry off our bed and onto the closet floor. Whew, the door shuts. I lit a candle, poured myself a glass of wine, changed my painted pants and had 24 seconds to study our beautiful home in her best state. And I thought, as much as I LOVE a tidy, clutter-free space, this isn’t really her best state. For it is the paint splatters, chicken poop and dangling light fixtures that I will miss about this home.

“Maaaaaamaaaa! Our friends are here!” Margot yelled as this family of four, with two young daughters, peeked through the window of our front door. It is the second time they’ve visited. I took all four kids out back where the chickens excitedly circled us. Margot taught Aida how to climb up on the trapeze and Ruby shared her beloved swing with Ellie. Andy joined me as we let the parents peek around by themselves. The sun was setting.

“When we move here will these swings still hang from this tree?” Aida asked as she looked up at the giant old maple. I told her we’d probably take them with us to our new home, Margot nodded, I told her that she and her family could hang their own swings. She liked that idea. I looked up and saw the silhouettes of Kara and Billy pass by the window. I felt a stab of sadness and a swell of happiness in my guts.

They say home is where the heart is and, right now, my heart beats in the walls of this space where I cradle eight years of memories in a tender fold of my heart. I stood in my backyard and watched other people consider what it might feel like to make their home here and I noticed I was smiling. This is crazy, I said out loud. Andy wrapped his arm around my waist, rested his chin on my head and I could tell he was smiling too.


About the Author

Nici Holt Cline

A fourth generation Montanan raising a fifth, Nici Holt Cline is a mama to Margot and Ruby, wife, gardener, crafter and runner who loves to write and take photos. She writes regularly on her popular blog .

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