1.17.2013

No More Perfect Homes

I have a lovely home. It's a cute 1930s-era Cape Cod that friends helped us paint a classic shade of forest green a few years ago. It boasts a huge living room with large banks of south- and west-facing windows. It also has crown molding in both the living and dining rooms, four bedrooms, two and a half baths, and a fenced yard complete with a deck. Half the basement is finished, housing my husband's home office, and most of the rooms are painted to our liking. One bathroom even sports original 1930s tile.

But, though we've always felt safe on our block, we're located near our city's downtown, on the edge of a neighborhood that many folks we know think "questionable" at best. We're sandwiched between one house covered in ugly brown tar-paper siding the owner has no intention of upgrading and another that's more than 100 years old and sits vacant since the elderly widow, whose parents were actually the home's original owners, passed away in 2011. The homes across the street are in better shape, but there's no denying our proximity to one of the city's major thoroughfares, making our wide avenue quite busy and not exactly kid-friendly.

Our backyard is fenced-in. But the fence is old and has begun to lean in recent years. Our cute deck is older than the fence - safe, but definitely in need of a facelift. Our enclosed little yard has served our daughters well over the years, but I don't know if the grass will ever sprout again under the swing set. And our big, lovely shade tree has seen better days as well.

We have issues inside, too. Stain upon stain grace our 10-year old carpeting, which has been repeatedly clawed at and vomited on by several feline friends. We have plain old linoleum - no tile, no hardwoods - in the dining area and kitchen, and the counters, cupboards, and refrigerator were all here when we moved in, almost 19 years ago. All four bedrooms are rather small - not even close to the specs preferred by today's discriminating house buyers - and there's no master bath. In fact, the home's main bathroom doesn't even have a shower - just a tub - so we have to trek to the basement for our morning showers. And I won't even begin to get into all the little things - from wonky outlets to holes in the drywall upstairs to wiggly toilet flappers - currently in need of repair.

When we first went house-hunting, my husband and I knew the old "location, location, location" mantra, but we bought the house anyway because the neighborhood - though old - is safe. Additionally, the house is a style we both love. And, most significantly, we got it for an exceedingly reasonable price we could afford on one income. At the time - before our children were born - we both worked at paid outside jobs, but we were both committed to having me stay at home when children came along, and we didn't want a mortgage that would interfere with our priority. We baffled our realtor and the mortgage company, but we held firm.

We did make several large upgrades before our children were born 10 and 11 years ago: new carpeting, a new furnace and new central air, and adding the fence, among other things. And we strive within our current means to keep things looking decent on the outside and clean and inviting on the inside; in fact, I just spent several days on a major cleaning spree. But, for now, there are no discretionary funds for any major improvements because we remain committed to keeping me home to directly parent our children. In fact, I'm not only home, but we've also committed to homeschooling through high school graduation. So, while I do supplement our income a bit by babysitting a couple of little ones, my focus and energy are on educating and discipling our girls rather than bringing in a paycheck. And our trade-off is a less-than-perfect home.

We also aren't looking to move, even though this house - as an ideal "starter home" - would probably sell quickly for a great price compared to what we still owe on it, and despite the fact that we might be able to get a wonderful deal on something nicer in the current market. Why? Because our daughters love this place. It's the only home they've ever known, so all their memories are wrapped up in these walls. They panic at the mere mention of living elsewhere. Of course, they'd manage if we ever had to move. But we don't have to, so there's no reason to uproot them for the sake of a master bathroom.

Every once in a while, my husband and I get frustrated. It'd be nice to avoid sending guests to the basement bathroom for their showers. I'd love a main-floor laundry area with new machines instead of finding after every load that the old basement washer leaks from some hidden location. I envy the folks on HGTV's Love It or List It who can both afford to pay Hillary for a renovation and consider upgrading to one of the dazzling homes David shows them.

But to get the "perfect" home, I'd have to give up too much. I'd have to go against the call my husband and I know God has on our lives in terms of our kids so I could get back into the paid workforce to afford the reno and/or relocation. I'd have to be away from my daughters for eight to 10 hours a day with little idea what they were learning and experiencing in my absence. I'd have to devastate them by ripping them away from a home they find cozy and secure.

So we're here to stay, tiny one-car garage and all. This home is lovely. It's old but it's solid. The woodwork is scratched, but it has character; the fence is tipsy but it enables our daughters to enjoy the outdoors at a moment's notice. It's the nest God's provided for raising our daughters, where we're building relationships with them and allowing them to become each other's best friend, too. It's where we're making memories and, by His grace, building a legacy that will honor Him for years to come. It isn't fancy and it isn't perfect in the world's eyes. But it is perfect for us because it's part of His perfect plan that we get to see unfolding day by day.

*****

I'm linking up with the Hearts at Home Third Thursday Thoughts Blog Hop, which is focusing this year on topics author Jill Savage shares in her soon-to-be-published book, No More Perfect Moms. Click here to be encouraged by other women's less-than-perfect home posts.

I'm also part of the No More Perfect Moms Launch Team, so look soon for my review and special offers related to the book.


5 comments:

Misty said...

Oh Tina! Thank you so much for posting this, it made me tear up. We complain about our home too, but I so agree it is not worth giving up so much for an "ideal" place. You put my thoughts into words. Thanks for sharing!

Emily Quesenberry said...

Thanks for sharing and keeping it "real". We, too, chose our home knowing it needed to be a one income budget. It's getting tight with 3 bedrooms and us expecting our fifth baby. But, we just get creative. Our neighbors are elderly and can't/ won't update their exterior, it's a safe neighborhood but the lack of "luster" on the houses around cause even family to feel unsafe when they visit,lol. We live in a town that is very small so there isn't any real crime compared to others. We have considered moving but each time God refreshes my vision to all the blessings and great things we do have here. Again, thanks for sharing ;)

keeperofmyhome said...

We have a non-perfect home as well. In fact, there has been 5 of us living in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath home for years. We are finally upgrading to have another bedroom and bathroom, but that's because we have to, and we are paying a huge price for that. We are having to dip into retirement. If we didn't have to have this addition, we wouldn't.
Good for you for remembering your goals and why you do what you do. It's so easy to get caught up in the world and become discontent.
Debra G

Laura Wells said...

It is awesome that you model contentment for your girls rather than seeking bigger and better. We really don't need more. (Though I am a bit envious, my old house near downtown is very upside down in the mortgage area). I have two girls too, 8 and 10 and this is our first year homeschooling. Discretionary funds are hard to find!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. I don't have alot of time to write but wanted you to know your post was an encouragement to me. It helped remind me of the things that really matter.

Thank you!

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