21 February 2013

Actually, A Baby Might Have Been Easier

Buying a house is a lot like being pregnant.   It takes forever; it is stressful and requires so much preparation and paperwork.  Actually for me it is the perfect metaphor.  Just as I can (apparently) get pregnant just by thinking about it, we found our perfect house, at the perfect price, in our only real day of house hunting.  Just like that.   However, much like both of my pregnancies, it soon became a grueling marathon of exhaustion, hurdles to overcome and sleepless nights filled with soul-eating nausea and anxiety.   Take home lesson: a short sale is anything but short, and you may save money on the house, but holy hell will you pay, and pay and pay, in terms of grief and aggravation.  Just as the HG made sure I paid a steep price for my fertility, the long term saving of getting into a neighborhood for $100K less than the neighbors cost me years off my life in stress.   But, just like having a baby, you get this awesome prize at the end.  When we walked into our new house, and knew it was all ours, it was totally worth it.

With that said, there is a downside that is another pregnancy/parenting parallel.  Once you buy said house, and join the ranks of “homeowner” you and everything you do with the house become part of the public forum.   In the same way that strangers on the street feel compelled to tell you your baby should be wearing a hat (my mother can sense and un-swaddled  baby anywhere within a 100 mile radius) everyone who hears you now have a house will feel compelled to tell you what you should be doing with it.  From my mother-in-law’s staunch belief that my door mats have the wrong kind of backing for hardwood floors (among roughly three thousand other cautionary tales) to my friend trying to tell me my upstairs sink has a cracked ceramic handle despite my knowledge that it is a brand new brushed nickel faucet, it is unending.   Much as having a baby is less about the individual choices (trust me, 5 years from now it will make no never-mind what kind of diapers you used) and more about the compilation of choices, a house is less about the major projects done now and more about the little things done over time to make the house a home.  

Needless to say, in many ways I am glad we had our kids then bought a house.  My six-plus years of training in having my job open to the public for near on constant review and critique leaves me quite well suited to tackling the great project that is “house.”  I will get to the faucet eventually, but this weekend will be devoted to finishing the chair-rail project required to fix the excessive damage the dogs did to the wallpaper in the kitchen/dining room.  When I get the trashed wood floors redone maybe then I can muster some concern about rug backings.  In the meantime I will do with the house what I do with the kids, just enjoy it.   I now have my own space in which to raise my own family.  For that I will be grateful.