I Thought Finding My “Dream” Home Would Make Me Happy. I Was So Wrong.

My husband and I are in the process of buying our dream home, complete with acreage, barns, a farm field at our doorstep, woods for our children to roam, and views that take your breath away. It’s a house that we’ve dreamed of and saved for for a very long time.

And now that it’s within reach, I’ve realized something:

A house is not going to magically change our lives. And I was so very wrong to think that it would.

Even though I know logically that not one single material possession can equate to happiness, I still associated reaching our goal of getting our dream house as an event that would bring a lot of happiness. Of course there would still be issues; life would still be hard at times, but at the very least, we wouldn’t constantly be wondering what the next step for our family would be. At least we wouldn’t be stuck in a limbo about whether to move or sell, whether to fix up our house or add another bedroom, or just keep saving for some unknown future home. At least we would finally feel settled, like real, actual grown-up adults should feel.

I also had the mistaken belief that finding a dream house would look something like an episode of “Fixer Upper.” We would walk hand-in-hand into our new house, which would be filled with lit candles and fresh-baked muffins in the kitchen and the sound of children laughing as they played in the perfect green grass. It was our dream house, so surely it would be a happy journey to get there, right?

Um, not so much.

It turns out buying a “dream” house is just like buying any other house. It’s incredibly stressful and emotional and the only thing predictable about it is that something (and most likely everything) will go wrong. The road to buying a house is bumpy and turbulent, and I’m not saying that I’ve done this, but it may just lead you to lock yourself in your bedroom and cry dramatically on your bed while refusing to talk to your husband. But hey, if that happens, no shame.

I feel grateful that we even have the chance to think about moving, and I know that both my husband and I have worked hard to make this dream happen. But at the same time, now that we are looking at officially moving, I feel a sense of loss, too. Gone are the naive 23-year-olds who purchased our first “starter” home with no clue that it would only take us six years to officially fill it up. Gone is that sense of just starting out in life, with the chance to chase all of our dreams. Gone are the babies that we brought home to this house, the memories of three of them learning to walk in this living room, of pacing the floors upstairs in the middle of the night, of countless games and parties, of books read and afternoons spent doing absolutely nothing.

I am realizing now what I am trading for our “dream” home, and it is a hard realization to face. I am trading our past for our future and truth be told, that past was so very sweet and hard all at the same time. This house is where I learned what it meant to be a mother, where I’ve spent what feels like almost every minute of my life (oh, the life of a stay-at-home mom!), where I have become an entirely different person than the woman who first turned the key on this home and stepped into her new life.

I know that our next house will become part of our story, a new chapter in our lives. It represents what I think of as the second stage of my life as a mother, a stage of mothering older children instead of infants and toddlers. We’re moving forward, but we’re also letting go.

I’m no longer under any illusion that a house or a move or another bedroom or more space will bring any more happiness into our lives. But I am realizing that it’s OK to look forward to the future while remembering all of the good times that made us the family we are today. And I hope that the love that has made this house a home will follow us to our new home.