Ian and I have been talking about renovations….again. You may have heard me tell the story of how when we bought our five acre property 9 years ago, I cried when I saw the house. Not tears of joy but tears of ‘Oh my god…you want me to live here???’ It is a sixty year old wooden cottage. The bones are OK but it has been added on to and DIY modified by previous owners. When we bought it it was in desperate need of updating and intensive TLC. The deal was when we moved here that ‘one day’ we would build our dream home on a better part of the property with more views and space etc..
That ‘one day’ has not come yet for various reasons.
- We keep changing our mind about what our dream home actually looks like.
- We do not want to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars to build said dream home.
- We already have a perfectly adequate home to live in and it seems excessive to build another just because….
- I am scared that I’ll become a slave to keeping ‘The Dream Home’ in its original pristine condition.
Over the last nine years we have painted and repaired and ripped up carpets in our little place. We polished the wooden floor boards. We’ve knocked down walls and built a front porch. We replaced the kitchen and bathroom and planted flowers all around the house.
Now it is as cute as a button and mostly I do love it. Even if the floors and walls are not level and the children all share rooms.
But over the past little while as the children are growing, the subject of ‘The Dream Home’ has come up again. Oh God.
Every now and again, I find myself stewing about all the flaws in this little house and the things that drive me crazy – such as the awkward back door thoroughfare that goes right through my narrow kitchen, oven, cooking area. The constant mess and dumping area that is our garage/storage area – also right as people enter the house. The low ceilinged dining room (the same ceiling is slowly but surely falling off due to poor workmanship when it was built). The mismatched lino. The complete lack of laundry space. The awkward spaces and corners.
Then I think about all the money we have spent here and I get crankier and crankier. I spiral down into a pit of self-pity and remorse. I wail and gnash my teeth. ‘If only we had built a new house straight away and not spent a penny on this one.’ ‘Our children will be grown and gone by the time we have a) decided what to build and b) saved up the money for it.”
I get caught up in pictures of beautiful immaculate homes. And this classic story…‘If only I had my ‘dream home’ my life would be perfect and I would be happy.’
My hardworking and ever cheerful husband cops most of my bad temper and dissatisfaction. ‘I just want a nice, comfortable home for our family and friends’ I sob into his chest. I blame him for bringing me to this god-forsaken house. I feel so hard done by. Oh the drama!
I forgot that I chose to live here too. I forgot that I love it. I forgot that many, many people sleep without a safe roof over their families’ heads. I forgot that we are blessed to live here.
But mostly I forgot that my own happiness is my responsibility. And that it doesn’t depend on having a perfect house.
Then I remembered that Ian loves the land here, as do I, and I couldn’t imagine leaving the gardens and fruit trees that we have tendered so lovingly. They are like children growing up and I want to see how they turn out.
I remembered that this house is lived and loved in.
I remembered that I adore quirky creative homes. I remembered that, actually if I saw it with fresh eyes for the first time today, my heart would melt and I would choose it again.
I remember that we have unlimited creativity to make simple improvements without spending a squillion dollars.
I remembered that I can make any space beautiful.
I remember that life is happening NOW not later. It doesn’t start when I get ‘The Dream House’.
I remember that I can declutter and make the spaces warm and inviting. That costs nothing.
I know that we can do a simple extension to make the spaces more useable and liveable.
I remembered that the children sharing rooms improves family fun and togetherness.
I remembered that I choose what to focus on in every moment. I cannot whine and complain about what I don’t like and get what I do want at the same time.
I remembered that I can choose to look for things to appreciate about where we live. And that is the only way to get what I truly want.
The space, the trees, the view of the mountains in the distance, the big sky that changes every single day, the magical treehouse, the memories we have created here. I remembered that Adelaide, our youngest, was actually born in this house. (Literally in our bedroom). I think about the creativity this home inspires in me. This house is FUN.
We are so lucky to have this house!
Now my heart is overflowing with gratitude and love for this house, my husband and our children. I remembered that as long as we are together, it does not matter where we live. Together we make any house a home. This is just a house. Not our whole life. And I am happy.