- I’m a mom of two boys and got divorced after 13 years of marriage.
- After the divorce, we moved in with my parents until I could find another home for me and my kids.
- I figured this would be the last house I lived in with my kids, so I wanted it to be special.
While my 13-year marriage, like many others, started out happy it devolved into a place of disagreement and unrest.
“It’s time for me to stop trying to make this marriage work and instead build a peaceful life for myself and the boys,” I shared with my parents after divulging details on which I had previously kept silent.
They nodded in support. “You can do it,” my father said. My mother agreed.
Once the divorce was finalized and the house sold, my sons, 10 and 8, and I moved into my parents’ home — the house I grew up in. Relieved but eager to be fully back on our own, I looked for a new place to live and the boys occasionally came along to showings. It took four months to find and purchase a house where we could start anew.
We found our house
On the day of the big reveal, I stopped in first and tied a “Welcome Home” balloon on the banister of the stairs leading to the second floor. Returning with my sons, I unlocked the door as they looked around for the real-estate agent — whom they called “the house lady.”
We walked into the entryway, and they spied the balloon. My 10-year-old’s blue eyes widened behind his glasses.
“Is this our new house?” he asked.
“Like, you bought it?” giggled my youngest as he threw his body up the steps.
Smiles stretched across both my sons’ faces as we walked through the three-story townhouse. When we got to the room on the “tippy top” they noticed the sunny yellow walls.
“A girl lived here,” they said in unison.
“Yes,” I answered, “but we will paint it before we move in, and you can pick the color.”
I wanted a new beginning for us
Over the next few weeks, I prepped the house while the boys spent alternating weekends with their father. I wiped down every surface, had the carpets cleaned, and hired a painter to transform the upstairs spaces with soothing colors — sand and a sky blue the boys chose from sample cards. I took time setting up, with the goal of creating a new beginning and calm environment to call home.
Determined to lighten the load, I had given away old toys and furniture, appliances, and bags of clutter accumulated over more than a decade. I reduced our belongings to the essentials and felt freer. Though we couldn’t afford much to start, we were doing it on our own. Needed items would be purchased in time as a few more paychecks arrived.
During that first week as we got settled and discovered things such as the oven not working and the toilet frequently clogging. The boys got into an argument, as siblings often do. Shouting ensued.
“Stop it right now,” I stammered.
I took a deep breath to ease the hammering in my chest and then, quietly, said: “This house will be a place of peace.”
Two sets of blue eyes stared at me. “This is our home,” I continued, “and we will treat each other with respect. Always.”
Truthfully, I wondered whether that could be possible with energetic boys who would soon be much larger and stronger than me. They nodded in agreement, sensing my urgency, and the three of us hugged.
We spent many nights watching television, reading, making meals, and eating dinner together before or after activities. Often, they did homework at the kitchen table or played video games while I paid bills.
Of course, we were not always successful on the peacekeeping front. There were a few more skirmishes, a slip or two of yelling — some on my part — and as they grew taller and more stubborn some standoffs took place among my teenage boys until they were ordered to retreat to separate rooms.
Yet, on most days our home has become the peaceful respite I craved when I initially decided to purchase the house that I knew in my heart would probably be the last home I lived in with my boys.
I wanted a simple, beautiful life for us, and that is exactly what we created together.
Lisa B. Samalonis is a writer and editor in New Jersey. She is at work on “Just Three: A Memoir of Single Parenting.”
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