When we moved into this house the children were small. I was in mom-of-small-children mode, and my storage and decor choices reflected this. China cupboards housed school books, puzzles, games, and craft supplies. Bins overflowed with Lego and the table was covered, always, with paintings and drawings. If I ever had to take a phone message, I was more likely to find a crayon than a pen to write with.

That was then, and then was wonderful. I embraced the whole enjoy-them-now, housework can wait, they grow up so fast philosophies. I tried to, at least, although I’m sure I had my moments.

But the children stretch, taller and taller. My baby is eleven years old, now. My first baby is seventeen. They’re growing, and it’s time to let my home grow up, too.

This old place has been well-loved and well-lived-in. She’s sheltered bugs and snakes and snails, and many other much more disgusting things. Rocks and last year’s bird’s nests have lined her window ledges. She’s hosted parties and potlucks and many, many children. She’s had her walls autographed and her windows broken. She’s sheltered this family on cold winter days and nights when the snow has trapped and the power has deserted. She has been patient and kind.

I want to return the love. I want to let this faithful friend grow up.

The Lego is gone. Repurposed, rather. Another little one can enjoy the creating. The kitchen cupboards are being emptied of stickers and popsicle sticks and safety scissors. I’m sorting and clearing and passing on the childhood.

Like all growing up is, it’s a bit hard. This realization that a season is passing. What was once spring new is waning fall, and the memories flood.

But it’s sweet, too, to let go. To make room for what is ahead. To clear out cobwebs, to look forward. To fill kitchen cupboards with kitchen things. To replace the childish treasures with the things of these growing ones, these precious ones who, much as they will always be my babies, are babies no more.

There are some things of which I won’t be able to let go, I know. The chewed book that was read to all three, words spoken thousands of times with the scent of childhood in the air. The notebook filled with wobbly letters and first thoughts. These things and a few more I’ll tuck into a box and put in my closet, beside the special baby clothes and the soft grandma-made quilts. I’ll hide some memories away, and some I’ll even set on a shelf or put in a frame, like the baby handprints, so small, to be gazed at with wonder every day.

But to the most of it I’ll say goodbye. I’ll pass it on and I’ll let the childish spaces ripen and mature.

Like the children.

Love is patient, love is kind.

1 Corinthians 13:4