I wish I could just fix everything in this house. Right now. Today. Sometimes I get this feeling like I just want to jump out of my skin, out of my body. I’d be like a ghost flying around a million miles an hour and I would do every single little nit-picky home improvement idea that plagues the “to do” list in my head. I would do it all perfectly, and in one fell swoop and it would only take me 15 minutes. And then everything would be perfect as it should be and I would finally be free to live my life. Then, and only then, would I feel ready to focus on my marriage and our family business. Once ghost Elizabeth saves the day by saving this house then I could have my brain back to sign my kids up for karate and ballet and piano lessons. Just imagine, with my house in order I could finally have time for all of those other crazy ideas I have floating around in my head, each one like its own little ghost waiting to be released. I might even have time to sew or maybe even play with my kids or go on a date with my husband.
I love a little sarcasm every now and then- I hope you enjoyed it too. Of course my marriage and my kids are a much bigger priority than home renovations; and I do play with my kids and go on dates with my husband. I also know that turning into a magical being that can renovate houses in the blink of an eye is not going to happen. I am not a fairy or a wizard and this is not Narnia or Hogwarts. Get back in your cages little idea ghosts floating around in my head. You all are just going to have to wait until I can release you one at a time. One long summer, home improvement work weekend at a time.
I wish it were that easy to tell these little ghost ideas to go away. They are driving me crazy. It is so frustrating. We were absolutely, 100% sure that we were doing the right thing when we bought this big white fixer- upper house two years ago. We had our reasons. This was our big leap of faith especially since we are not big do-it- yourselfers. We still love this house, in a lot of ways it is just perfect for us. But. Every. Single. Room. Needs. Work. Now for a little first world venting that will sound like I am a spoiled little princess. Stay with me – I’m not actually that shallow. Sometimes, I doubt that we made the right decision because I am just so tired of do- it – yourself stuff. We are talking about 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 1 living room, 1 dining room, 1 office/study, 1 kitchen, and a huge attic the length and width of the entire house that just needs to be a third floor of some kind. Even the 2 stairwells need work. I know, I sound like a terrible person. I should only be so grateful for all of the space and I am grateful. It’s just that it is a lot of work for one person to take on and a lot of money. We would need thousands of dollars for each room not to mention time and labor.
When I start to think of it like that I get overwhelmed and depressed. I am embarrassed to admit that because it is silly to be depressed about the big, beautiful house you live in, right? But I have always said that I need to live in this house because she speaks to me, she teaches me. I know where God is going with this one. The lesson to be learned here is so obvious to me: be content with what you have. But I am stubborn and a slow learner and I am an American so that is hard for me to get a hold of sometimes. I love my country but the good ole’ US of A is a consumer driven society. The world around me tells me to get more, buy more, want more and all because I deserve it. So contrary to what God says.
So I have my little mantras and bible scriptures that I repeat in my head to repel those ghastly ghosts of discontent that disguise themselves as “ideas.” “Keep my eyes on you Jesus.” “Be patient and wait.” “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you.” The latest one that has really helped me when I start to feel envious of people with homes that are “perfect” is, “the only person that I need to compare myself to is Jesus.” He is the only standard that I have chosen to live by and, therefore it is useless to compare myself to anyone else.
Even still, it’s hard not to find myself anxious with home improvement ideas. I feel like I just can’t rest until everything is as it should be. Is there anything in your life like that? Is there anything that keeps you up at night? Is there a nagging voice at the back of your head that is keeping you from living the life that you have right in front of you?
I have realized that I really live in two different houses. One is the house that I actually live in- the one with all of the problems. The other is the house that I live in my head- it is the version of the house in which all of ideas have come to fruition. All the walls are painted and the floors are finished and the garage is connected to the main house via a new family room and kitchen addition. But that is not the house that the kids will remember. They will remember the Saturdays spent scraping off wallpaper with their mommy. They will remember sprinting from the main house to the garage on rainy days. They will remember mommy and daddy removing splinters from their little feet from the unfinished wood floors. This is their life right now. This is my life right now.
Recently, a friend and I were talking about contentment and our lack thereof. I pointed out that when my husband was in law school all I did was complain about this, that, and the other. He was always so busy studying and I hardly got to see him. I didn’t really care for our house that much. I had to go back to work after I had our two babies even though I really wanted to be a stay at home mom. But now when I look back I have this romantic memory of law school as being the best years of our life together. I think of all the law school friends and friends from my job who kept me sane through those years. Truly, they are some of the best friends I have ever come across. Now, when I think of our law school house I only have memories of hanging out with my sister in the living room- watching hilarious YouTube clips and the fireflies that illuminated our neighborhood in the summer. I reminisce about how I had my dream job. Yes, I had to pump breast milk during lunch but I had my dream job and I loved it and I miss it now that I am a work from home mom. I really only remember the good things about that chapter of our lives.
I don’t know how long this season of living in an unfinished house will last. Five years? Ten? Twenty?! Who knows. But I think that when this house is indeed living up to my standards and is “finished” and a new chapter of life has begun I will miss these days. Maybe in the future when our weekends are filled with karate and ballet and piano lessons, I will miss the Saturdays spent working on the house while the kids played in the backyard. Maybe when the teenage years are upon us and I suddenly seem to serve no purpose to my children except for spending cash, I will miss the days when they would plop onto my lap with the tweezers and ask for me to remove a splinter from their little foot. Oh, I am getting teary eyed just thinking about it.
For several reasons we have had to push the brakes down on some of the projects that I would like to do right now. Perhaps it is a good time to just enjoy this season in all of its unfinished glory. It’s a good time to stop and realize that these are the days that will one day be the best years of our lives. I don’t believe in ghosts so maybe it’s time to stop being haunted by the ghost ideas in my brain. Twenty years from now when the kids look at pictures from this time they will notice the awful wallpaper in the background and they will smile and say, “Oh yeah, I remember that wallpaper. Remember how mom would make us help her scrape it off? We even had our own scrapers with our names on them so we couldn’t fight over them.” And I will look at that very same wall in its 20- years- from- now state and all I will remember will be those little tiny fingers scraping off wallpaper at my side. And I will think to myself that these were the best years of our lives.