Renovation Reevaluation

There’s nothing like a renovation to give you time you didn’t even know you had to reflect on your life choices. (That’s only funny if you’ve lived it.)

In my case, it all started with the house I had to have. The one I saw and loved instantly. In my defense, I wasn’t looking for another project OR another house. I had just finished a major renovation of our 1990s monstrosity-of-a-kitchen, expanding it into the somewhat unusable front living area. I blame my decision to jump into another home makeover challenge on my career. Keeping my finger on the pulse of new listings to the market is an occupational hazard. I had always dreamed of owning a mid-century modern home. This one seemed to have all the things I wanted for my kids and I. All of the moving parts in the process of buying and selling fell into place so perfectly that it was undeniably meant to be. Who better than me to turn a beautiful time capsule into the perfectly updated family home? Yet now, instead of obsessing over finishes and fixtures, I’m reevaluating life’s lessons that can sometimes come in the form of major renovations.

I’ve learned a few things that might help others:

Sometimes when we operate from the gut, there is more heart than practicality. Or ass than head, if you will. 

Add to that, a frantic real estate market where you have to pull the trigger quickly once you find “the one” and you have the perfect ingredients for hot mess soup.

You may find yourself awake at night, reevaluating your quick thinking.  How will you pay for replacing those outdated artery slicing floor-to-ceiling windows? Like me, you may fall into a fitful sleep imagining one of your kids running straight through them. Vintage-sexy though they may be, single pane windows might also explain why you’re always freezing. 

Indeed, hot mess soup is what I’ve been cooking up since we moved in.

We live in an idyllic, quiet cul-de-sac and our neighbors are wonderful, thoughtful and loving people. I don’t believe there exists a better street in the United States of America for great neighbors. The downside is that my kids don’t have anyone to play with. They are isolated here. COVID-19 has further exacerbated the issue. The two boys, 6 years apart in age, currently bunking together (as we live on top of each other in the daylight basement) while the top floor receives a 7 month-long makeover, are constantly at each other’s throats. My eldest attends a school in a different district (our choice), and that makes for a lot of driving and limits the sense of any “community” feel. It also puts extra pressure on an already tough situation.

I am a single mother of these boys who quite frankly, see me as their everything. Because I am. I’m full-time mom, full-time career gal, and in the short moments I have with them, I also have to be playmate; because my decision to move to a place where there aren’t other kids to run around with put me there. Now, who will cook dinner while we play? 

This single mother who should be living at the poverty level, yet through hard work, determination, and taking some high-risk opportunities; has become the owner of her dream home. How dare I complain about these kinds of 1st world problems?  In the quiet, cold, and construction dust-covered moments late at night, I realize that I have reached the age at which the basket of fucks I give is empty, and I’ve stopped caring about having it all or what people think about it. In all my reevaluating I have decided that in the future, I will take greater care to consider the well-being of the people I care about most. I have arrived at that place where the rubber meets the road, where the bank account has been drained but it ain’t done yet, where having peace trumps having stuff, and contentment holds a higher value than vaulted ceilings.

What will we do? We’ll finish this. I know we will. I’m determined to soak in my master bathroom tub and give it some thought. What I do know now is that what we THINK we want or need, sometimes just isn’t. At least not for right now.

In the meantime, soup is on the dinner menu again and yes, it tastes like shit, but it was made with love and the best of intentions.