I had a pretty perfect childhood. We lived in a wonderful house, in a neighborhood bursting at the seams with kids my age. I received a fantastic education from the award-winning public schools in our area. I played sports, I took singing and piano lessons, I had tons of friends.

I want this same childhood for Annabel, but I’m terrified that it won’t be possible.

My parents were my age when they bought their brand new dream home, the house I grew up in. My dad went to work, and my mom stayed home. My grandmother and great-grandmother lived with us, cementing in me the requirement that my children’s grandparents must always be close to them.

My parents made it seem so easy that I figured this whole, Marriage/House/Baby thing was simple. When I was pregnant with Madeline, I desperately wanted to move out of our condo. I knew that a third person was going to make our cozy place overcrowded. We couldn’t afford it at the time and it ate away at me. I calmed my overzealous urges to nest by telling myself we had plenty of time to get into our perfect house with the perfect backyard for Maddie to run around in. Sigh.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that when I was pregnant with Annabel, my desire to move became a NEED. I didn’t believe we had plenty of time anymore. And so, we looked, and we found a house we liked, a place we could picture ourselves in, but it wasn’t in the cards. 2009 was too cruel a year to us, and banks don’t care that you couldn’t earn income because you were emotionally destroyed from your child’s death.

Obviously, people have plenty of hardships they have to recover from, so we are not unique. We’ve buckled down and saved our pennies, and we’re hoping this is the year we’ll be able to move out of our overstuffed quarters. But then what? Do those magical neighborhoods of my youth still exist? The world is so different now, and things are so much more expensive. So we have to decide what we’re willing to give up. Is it the neighborhood? No. The good public school? No. We certainly don’t want or need to live in a mansion, but the place can’t be falling down, either.

I want Annie to be able to walk to school, and come home in the afternoons and play outside with the kids down the street. I want our dog to rule a backyard of squirrels and bees and flowers. I want the sense of accomplishment that I somehow feel is attached to achieving this idealized way of life. I know these things take time, but life has taught me that we never know when time will run out.

The logical part of me is saying, “life is never how you expect it to be.” And while I’m making the best of what I have (and I’m lucky, I know), I’m just not willing to give up on the dream of having more.