At forty-one, I’ve decided that I probably need to start recognizing that I’m a full grown adult. After all, I’m about half way done with this journey. With this acceptance of adulthood comes the realization that I’m about to face some very difficult challenges and I’m going to have to make increasingly harder choices. I remember slogging through my late twenties and then into my thirties, drowning in a new mortgage, daycare payments, spit up and spilled formula while working (on very little sleep) in a position that did not pay me enough. I bolstered my spirit by thinking, “It WILL get easier”. Well, SOME things have gotten easier for sure. My kids are increasingly independent. My husband and I are finally earning what we are worth. I’m getting more consistent sleep. But most things have just gotten harder.
Our newest challenge is home related. We bought our current house from my parents over ten years ago. This is the only house we have ever purchased. Buying from my parents meant we closed the entire deal with no realtor, no lawyer, and very little fuss. We were already living in the house since our apartment’s lease had expired a few months prior. My parents slowly packed up and moved out over the course of six months. We slowly made the home our own over the next couple of years. That was it. I was officially a homeowner with no fanfare whatsoever.
Ten years later…
While our home is still plenty big enough for my family of five, it has become a very old, very needy house. The decade of my 30s flew by and we had very little extra money to put into the house. We painted the outside once. We replaced the hot water heater. We’ve painted rooms and redone some floors. Nothing major and even those minor fixes are beginning to show their age as well. My house now needs a new roof, new windows, two updated bathrooms, and we need to update the kitchen. Every room could use a fresh coat of paint and new floors.
Ten years later…
The road we live on has become very busy. The town we live in is changing. What was once a quaint large beach town is now a busy city. That city status has brought with it a change in the “feel” of the town. Our neighborhood has become noisier, dirtier, and less safe.
Ten years later…
Two of my children are in middle school. They have a comfortable group of friends whom they’ve known since kindergarten. They live down the road from their grandparents and around the corner from their cousins. The thought of moving to a new town, making new friends, and getting used to a new school is terrifying to an almost 12 and 14 year old girl. I totally understand. I know a move would be extremely difficult for them. I also have no desire to move away from my mother and my sister. I need them in my life. My mother picks up my children every day after school. My sister and I, both working parents, support each other whenever it’s needed. Even a move to a neighboring town will impact our easy accessibility to each other. I have lived almost my entire life in this house. I can’t imagine someone else living there.
But…it’s time to do SOMETHING. This 100-year-old house may, quite literally, begin to fall apart around us.
So for the last six months or so my husband and I have talked, and thought, and planned, and questioned, and talked, and looked, and thought, and talked some more. Do we put money into our house and stay or do we find a new house and go? Putting money into the house will require a new loan, living in a construction zone, and we risk putting money into a house that may not be worth it. It will also mean we stay in town making our children happy and keeping our lives pretty much the same. Buying a new home means trying to sell the one we have without improving it, finding a new house at a reasonable price, and packing up and moving ten years of “stuff” (oh so much stuff). It also means adjusting to a new (better?) community/school/life.
I’ve begun to feel some significant stress from the issue and I started to wonder why, exactly, I couldn’t seem to just make a decision and go with it. Yes, change is difficult. Yes, anything involving money must be well-thought out. Yes, this decision impacts my children in a very big way. Yes, buying a new house and selling your old house is not an easy process (especially for a couple who have only bought a house from relatives). But none of that is why this is especially difficult for me. I think, for me, this agonizing decision symbolizes my entrance into this new stage of “mid-life”. This decision is one adults make–real, official, older adults. Adults who are supposed to know what they are doing. Adults who are supposed to have their lives well managed and well under control. Adults who have recognized that one part of their life is over and it’s time for the next chapter. Moving on to a “new chapter” simply feels like “getting old” to me.
My house is my childhood home. It was also the home of my father’s childhood. The spirits of my grandparents are ever present and almost my entire life has been associated with this space. Can I let it go? Can I let go of this huge piece of my childhood? Am I ready to be an adult without the comfort and safety of this home I know so well?
I’m not sure what we are going to do but I do know that we will make a final decision soon. We’ve talked to the girls and so far the oldest has threatened to move in with her grandparents if we leave town, my middle has no real opinion on the matter (such a middle child…) and the youngest didn’t seem to really understand the ramifications of any of it. I did, however, find the following in her backpack today. (Translation: Can we get a new home because it will feel good and it will make me happy?”. Sigh. Adulting is hard.