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!)
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.
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 Facebook, twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.