Weekend Edition – Quick Update

An Update on My New Writer’s Nest:

My daughter and I were supposed to be moving into our new home today, but the fates decided to toss a few monkey wrenches into our plans (not the least of which was that darn rule about only twenty-four hours in a day). At any rate, we will now be moving next weekend (the 19th).  So, I will likely not be returning to our usual Weekend Edition programming until the following Saturday (the 26th).

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a piece I wrote for my bi-weekly newspaper column. I hope you enjoy it. I’m off to pack more boxes now. (Wish me luck staying focused – I’ve found several crates full of old journals and they are trying to distract me!)

 

home sweet homeOn the Care and Feeding of Newborn Homes

Having recently bought a house, I have come to realize that this milestone is a lot like another life-changing event: having a baby. Not that I’m comparing houses to babies, but the early experiences of home ownership and motherhood share a frightening number of similarities.

The comparison first occurred to me while I was talking with friends who are experienced homeowners. They have successfully survived the initial years and are well versed in the various calamities one can expect to encounter immediately after signing papers. At some point between conversations about flooring, insulation, and interior paint colors, I noticed a surreptitious exchange of knowing glances.

I knew it was not meant to be unkind. I remember those same looks flying between girlfriends who had a year or more of motherhood under their belts when I announced my pregnancy. They knew I had no idea what I was in for, and they knew they could never make me understand. For my part, I was convinced that their war stories of sleepless nights, endless messes, and complete lack of solitude were exaggerated. I also thought, with the hubris of the uninitiated, that I could do it better.

And then my daughter was born.

The thing about babies and houses is that they don’t come with manuals. Sure, there are thousands of books and websites filled with advice, but since each baby and each house is a unique bundle of unknown idiosyncrasies and surprises, advice is only worth so much.

When you’re learning the ropes (of either parenthood or home ownership), it turns out that everything is more complicated, more expensive, and takes longer than you expected. Inexplicable things happen every day, always at the least convenient moment. You feel inept, out of your depth, and sometimes even completely hopeless. At some point it hits you that you are not actually in control anymore. This is terrifying.

If you are lucky, you have friends who will steer you around the worst pitfalls, talk you in off the ledge, and – most importantly – help you learn to laugh at yourself. They will understand how much you care and how afraid you are that you will screw things up. They will tolerate and even empathize with the extent of your research and endless deliberations over each little decision. And then they will remind you that none of this is the end of the world.

Kids and houses arrive in our lives with a lot of pressure. Not only are we suddenly bearing huge new responsibilities, we are also acutely aware of how our performance as a parent or homeowner might be judged. Let’s not kid ourselves. We’ve all judged and been judged. It’s human nature. Our children and our homes are, for better or worse, reflections of who we are – our values, beliefs, and style. The way we raise our children and maintain and decorate our homes offer highly visible clues to intimately personal details about our lives. Again – terrifying.

At least it feels terrifying until you realize that we are all in this together, just feeling our way through the dark. No one really has any of this – parenthood or home ownership – totally figured out. Babies and houses will always have the upper hand. They will always be able to come up with some twist of fate that sets us back on our heels just when we think we’ve got everything under control.

And maybe that’s not a totally bad thing. As parents and homeowners, we need to learn to adapt. We need to surrender to the fact that we will screw up. We will make small mistakes and big ones, but the sky will not fall. We will also learn to let go of our expectations. We’ll stop walking around worrying about how everything “should” be, and we’ll learn to work with (and love!) what we have. It’s all part of the adventure. And if my homeowner adventure is anything like my parenthood adventure, this is going to be one fabulous ride.

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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on Facebooktwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
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26 thoughts on “Weekend Edition – Quick Update

  1. Great post. It made me chuckle. Congratulations on your new home. It sounds much easier to me than the new baby but we’re still living in our “renovator’s dream” long after we’d initially planned to sell up and move on. I guess in this way houses and having kids are quite similar. You can have all the best laid plans in the world but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll have 2 kids a boy and a girl exactly 2 years apart and they will be best friends.
    Actually, because as I was reading through my comment, I remembered that my latest post is about a homeless guy and his dog living on the streets of Sydney and that put all my grumbles about our house into perspective. Anyway, you might enjoy it: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/09/11/sleeping-rough-in-sydney-meet-tim-his-dog-nugget/
    xx Rowena

    • Ahh, yes. The myth of “best laid plans.” 🙂

      Thank you for sharing your story about Tim & Nugget. We do need to keep our perspective, and also find ways to share our bounty with others. It made me smile to know that Tim & Nugget have each other. I was intrigued by the question of whether “sleeping rough” is a necessity or a choice. I expect the answer varies by person and even by day. Really does make you think.

      Thanks again. Nice to have you here.

    • Exactly. I know right where my chocolate stash is, but I’d dearly like to recover my pendulum which I lost a few months ago. Hoping it’ll turn up as I turn our drawers and empty shelves. 🙂

      Thanks for the encouragement and for stopping by.

      • A pendulum is a kind of scrying tool – usually a stone or crystal on the end of a chain or string. It’s kind of like the old wives’ tool of a wedding ring on a string held over an expectant mother’s belly to try and determine (based on which way the ring swings) whether the baby will be a boy or a girl. You can use a pendulum to answer almost any yes/no question, and some people even use them with maps to find lost objects.

  2. I’ve always like to fix and build things. 16 years ago I bought a house that was a bit of a “fixer upper.”
    16 years later and 10 of thousands of dollars poorer, I think I am just figuring out this home ownership thing. If you hire anyone to fix or remodel, beware of the words, “Well if you’re going to do that, you should…” The conversation ends with a beautiful thing in your house and a lot less money in your bank account.

    and I predict that there will be two boxes that will go missing. You’ll never find them. I still haven’t… 😉

    • You’re too funny, Andrew. I’ve heard those exact words from several contractors, but I haven’t fallen into the trap … yet. My budget for pre-move work is almost dried up (that took NO time at all!), so I’ll be curbing the spending in very short order. I’m trying hard to avoid the urge to try to make everything perfect all at once. I know only too well that once we’re moved in and settled, I’ll develop “house blindness” which will keep me from being bothered by every little thing. 😉

      And – yes – I’ll probably lose at least two boxes, even though we’re only moving ten doors down the street!

  3. Perfect Jamie…I can’t say I have ever seen the connection between newborn houses and babies, but now that you mention it…of course! I hope you are on track for next weekend.

    • Hi, Sara!
      After a weekend of intense packing, I feel like we are, in fact, on track for next weekend. Crazy!
      Glad you enjoyed my house/baby ramble. It’s funny the things an overtired mind will think of.
      😉

      TTYS!

    • Yep. Reality, indeed. It’s all good, though. Happy to be surrounded by packed boxes this morning. Feels like we’ve made good progress. 😉

  4. Good luck with your move and your home ownership. (Congratulations also). I myself am moving at the end of October – to another rental though… The boxes, the sorting, the packing, the selling of stuff on Amazon…a means to an end and also a new beginning!

    • I know moving is a royal pain in the arse, but there is a part of me that loves the chance to clean, purge, and reorganize. I only wish I had more TIME. The stress of meeting that moving day deadline is the part that makes everything a little too much to bear. Luckily, having moved so frequently over the past few years, we have purged (and purged!) already, so not much work to do there.

      TKS for the congrats & good luck with your move! 🙂

    • Couldn’t agree more. That’s always our goal – cozy and eclectic, inviting and inspiring. Books are a big part of my decorating aesthetic, so that’s always a good start. 😉

  5. Love the house/baby connection here, and smiling at the way you’ve turned delay into delight for this reader. One of the great benefits of being a writer is turning unplanned turns of events into a controlled narrative arc. Everything is fodder for a story! Thanks for this one!

    • “Everything is fodder for a story!”
      Ain’t that the truth, and thank goodness!

      I’m so glad you liked the piece, Deborah. Thanks for popping on to say so. 🙂
      I often take comfort, even in the midst of a crisis, in knowing that I can turn any experience – good or bad – into a story that might make someone smile, think, or just look at things in a different way. And, I’d never thought of it before, but you’re so right – writing about events is also a way to take some control over them!

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