Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

This House

Almost three years ago we left our beautiful house in Dallas and moved to this house, a house we bought after only a couple of house–hunting trips to Salt Lake City. We didn’t have time to fool around and wait for the house of our dreams. We needed to find a home soon since the move to Utah was quickly approaching. And so, this house was the best of all we saw. It had three things we liked and still like about it: A layout we could live with, gorgeous wood, and a huge master closet I dare anyone living in this city to beat. But even with those assets, I’ve always thought of this house as less pretty than our old home in Dallas. The house is older, the windows are plain, the basement has a terrible layout, the master bathroom could use a bigger tub and a second sink, the backyard we inherited had nothing but grass and mint, and I could keep going on and on about how this house is, as I say to everyone: Not the house of my dreams.

I can recall a few episodes of frustration during the first months here, when I cried and yelled “I HATE THIS HOUSE”. All of them followed by the guilt of having said such awful words to my home. I’d touch the wall and whisper “I don’t really hate you. You are a good home. You have good bones”. But I keep dreaming of how one day we could invest $20,000 to make this house so much better. And when I start thinking of all the things that should be done, all the mess, all the contractors, I think that maybe we should just move to a prettier home when the time is right. So I still begin all conversations about our house with a “It’s not really the house where I’ll die”. And when Joaquin spits up in the carpet, my thoughts as I clean up are it’s a good thing that this is the house where I had a baby — when he’s older, wiser, and potty-trained we’ll get a new house with brand new carpet. So, although I’ve come to accept this house, I keep thinking of how I will probably not miss it whenever we move out.

This afternoon I was preparing a few things for a handmade gift I’m working on for our little niece, Elise. Joaquin was with me, clearly crazy of joy exploring all the magical textures he was finding in this new room (a room he doesn’t visit often). He had been awake for three hours but was not showing any signs of wanting to take a nap. So I did what I do in these cases, when sleep isn’t coming easily and the music is good. I danced with him.

Grabbed him while Beck’s “Girl” was starting to play. He let out a squeal of delight when he felt me starting to dance around the room. Suddenly I saw the reflection of my baby on a watercolor painting by the window. He was smiling at the mountains. Smiling while we danced in front of the gorgeous mountain view I get to enjoy every day. And at that moment I realized that I’ll cry lágrimas de sangre the day I leave this house. All the memories of my son’s birth and baby days are tied to these spaces, and no crown molding, beautifully detailed windows, gorgeous wood floors, or spa–like master bathroom can ever take that away from this house. She will be the one with the best memories, and I’ll always keep her in a very special place close to my heart.

reflection in my office


  1. On , Joey wrote:

    It’s gonna take more than $20,000!! But $20 would be a good start. :)

  2. On , Petie wrote:

    Such a sweet story. I almost teared up… I liked all the details. Houses are a funny thing. They are just mortar and wood, but so much happens inside of them. I do miss our old house sometimes, not the neighborhood or the house per say, but the memories. It was our first home and Joelle’s baby room was over there.

    If the next house is better, you do quickly get over it. ;) (we did AND this house does need work, but we love the old bones of it.)

  3. On , Maria wrote:

    Houses do have souls. Could be just our own energy, which makes sense because every time I leave a house/apartment/etc, I feel that a little piece of me stays there. Hopefully not as a ghost!

    It was particularly difficult with the house in Dallas. I talked to it like a good old friend when I said goodbye. She loved me too.

  4. On , KSR wrote:

    Funny thing about houses….and I’ve lived in a LOT(!!!) of them……they are maybe among the most important structures in our lives…and house so many memories and images and emotions….alas, in fact, they are structures and the key is in the “home” that dwells within their walls….I firmly believe that is the “soul” of the house and that is what goes with us and makes the next house “home’ as well…..but this is from an army brat who lived in more houses than I could count on all of our combined fingers and toes…..I think I have things that I loved about every house we lived in and special memories of the physical spaces…and I have to admit that it was very sentimental to leave the house where I had brought both of my children home from the hospital…..and the little details I had done in their rooms……
    Now Fernando is very different because he has only lived in a few houses in his lifetime, most of them ones we lived in together…..and he is very attached to the physical structure…It seems like it takes him a year or two to let go of the old house completely and accept the new house…but once he does, forget about him thinking of a new place!

  5. On , Maria wrote:

    Didn’t know that about Fernando, but it doesn’t surprise me at all :)
    I agree with you: Home, of course, is where we are. When mom was here, she told me something I thought was very cute. She had asked Joey where he wanted to live when he is older. Joey said “Close to Joaquin”. What a sweet guy I married…