A few weeks ago, my loving husband went out to grab a last-minute dinner and tea for his pregnant wife. He had just gotten home from a twelve-hour day to find me exhausted on the couch by first-trimester-nausea, with three kids vying for my attention, after a full day of teaching middle school. To say that I didn’t have dinner ready was an understatement. I don’t even recall having enough food in the fridge to concoct some sort of dump recipe, not that anything sounded good anyway.
While out, he ran into a previous customer of mine. This particular friend, outspoken as he his, alluded to my hard-working husband’s drained countenance and shabby attire. My husband–a man of much thought and few words–chose not to say much in response, except that he was running to get food for me since I was expecting and not feeling well.
Friends, this is where the casual banter took a turn–a turn that kind of stabbed at my husband and bled onto me.
After my husband mentioned I was pregnant, the man told him that we needed a bigger house! “I know,” he said, “I’ve been in your house!” True, he had been in our house when we bought it almost three years ago. But did we need a bigger one? And who was he to tell us we did?
Certainly, we bought a house well within our means. It is in the neighborhood in which I grew up, literally thirteen houses down from my mom–Grandma, unanimously, the kids’ favorite person in the entire world! It isn’t extravagant, nor would it draw much attention from an onlooker; but we love it. It has everything we need, leaves us wanting nothing, and is certainly more than something. It is our home.
Let me explain something – we’re not your typical couple. Sure, there are others like us, but sometimes, I don’t feel like I have a matching sock anywhere else except in my husband. I have tried to understand; but I accepted long ago that I’m a little different–always have been. I don’t get overly excited about materialism. Unlike Madonna, I am NOT a Material Girl… but I am living in a Material World.
We’re not minimalists by any means, but I do follow some blogs that align with that movement. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy buying a new dress and watching my kids play with a shiny new toy; but I also don’t like the idea of having too much stuff. I don’t see the necessity in keeping all of my children’s papers from school, drawings and paintings, dried flowers, or anything for pure sentimental reasons. I dislike knick-knacks and baubles that sit on shelves collecting dust. If I don’t see the value in keeping something, I don’t. I also don’t fully subscribe to that philosophy; I just gravitate more towards it.
I say all of this to explain that we don’t live in a “Tiny House” or anything. We have a two-story home with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths, plus a basement and a two-car garage–that we are actually able to park our cars and the lawnmower in. Now I sound like I’m bragging… and I should. It is a big house for us. It is bigger than anything we grew up in, we were very lucky to find it as a foreclosure, and even more fortunate to have had the ability to purchase it. Yes, we have the “honey-do-lists”, we want to make upgrades and changes; the house itself isn’t perfect.
Yes, our family has grown since we signed our names on those papers and took the keys–I delivered a baby on the living room floor, I had a miscarriage in the bathroom off of our bedroom, and who knows where the newest addition will make his or her appearance. We are a dynamic family and our home works for us. We don’t work for it.
And we’re happy. Which is more than I can say for a lot of people I know in lots of different housing scenarios. Should we get a bigger house so we can grow farther apart within the walls? Should we grow farther apart until our marriage finally crumbles and one of us is sleeping in the guest room? Please know that I’m NOT saying your marriage, or your family for that matter, will disintegrate if you have a big house. Many of you would likely die if you had to watch one television… with your whole family… in the living room! I know my students would; but that is the expectation in our home. It is just how we do it.
I love my family and I love my house. We have been blessed beyond measure to be able to dwell in such a beautiful place that we can call our own. I know that when the kids become teenagers, that one bathroom they’re going to share is going to be filthy, showers are going to be long, and there will be pounding on the door… but I also know that it won’t last long. And when they’re all off to college, or serving somewhere, or perhaps even gone to the other side, I don’t want to be burdened by all of those empty rooms. I don’t want to bear the weight of a mortgage bigger than my budget, so everyone can have their own cell. I want to be free to do what our family does, rather than be shackled by our house. But even more so, I don’t want to be bound by the expectations of others, how I should live, and how big my house should be. It’s home. And it’s perfect.