Whenever I go to a new house, I always imagine what it will look like. I imagine the layout. I imagine what sort of furniture they’ll have. I envision the decor based on what I know of the person. I wonder if their kitchen will be one that I covet with all its space and granite countertops. This is something I’ve done ever since I was little. (Although the coveting counter space is more recent.)
I took Zoë over to her little friend’s house yesterday for a play date. We met the family over the summer in Rachael’s rising kindergarten play group, and yesterday was the first time we had been to their house. Guys, let me tell you, it was that house. You know the kind. The lawn and garden are well manicured, but in an effortless, non-stuffy way. The front porch looked like a place where you could just relax with a drink and look at the stars. Inside looked like it was in the last issue of Pottery Barn magazine. Earthy tile ushered us in. Adjoining dark, wide plank wood floors looked virtually untouched. In the living room, a large shag area rug covered the floor. It was not scary shag, but modern, chic shag that invited you to press your toes into it. The dining room had modern vintage furniture which was gently lit by the bay window. The girls’ rooms upstairs looked like after reveals on Dear Genevieve, age appropriate, but not little kid-ish. The walls were covered with gorgeous professionally-taken family pictures, wainscoting that makes you want to run your fingers along it, and Pinterest projects that has turned out well. And the kitchen? Oh the kitchen! Granite countertops and new cabinets. Enough counter space to actually cook comfortably. An island that says Please gather ’round me and fellowship.
Can you tell I soaked in every inch of that house? I tend to do that. It’s like being inside the design magazine/website; it allows me to collect ideas for my own home. What works? What’s awkward? What do I like? What do I not like? As I mentioned before, we bought our home as a foreclosure, so it came as is. There are so many things to be done: fixing the deck; repairing and cleaning the fence; changing light fixtures; gutting the kitchen and dining room. But it’s more than just gathering ideas. If I’m honest, it tends toward coveting. I crave having a finished house, one that doesn’t require any fixing up or adding to. I look forward to the day I am no longer embarrassed by my kitchen; I don’t want to feel like I have to explain that the builder grade oak cabinets that are falling apart, white laminate countertops, and blonde fake wood flooring that doesn’t match the living room are my idea what looks awesome and is what I want.
In the DC/Metro area, some people do judge you based on what your house looks like. But this really goes deeper than that external cue and pressure. This is about me needing to focus on being grateful for what I have. And, actually, I don’t really even like the word grateful. To me, if feels like a word you use when you’re not happy about something, but you recognize the good in it and push back the unhappiness in deference to the gratefulness. Saying something like, I should be grateful I have a kitchen. Some people don’t even have running water with which to cook, is valid. But not really having a connection to what that actually means can only guilt you into gratefulness for so long before you hope your company doesn’t notice the giant holes the prior occupants drilled into the cabinet.
What I really need is to become content with what I do have. I need to focus on what my greed for more things really does:
1) It makes me restless and anxious, neither of which are good for my mental and physical health
2) It can stress Mike out when I look around and say, What’s next?
3) It can put a strain on our bank account when I insist that something that’s a want is really a need
4) It makes me less of a good friend when I’m in a me versus them mentality because I’m comparing or worried that they are comparing and judging
5) It teaches the girls that things and appearances are more important than relationships and contentedness
So that’s my new goal. I’ve been working on being myself, and now I need to allow my house to be as it is. I need to separate my house from myself; I am not my house, and my house is not me. It’s simply a place where my family lives. It’s where we have shelter from weather. It’s where we gather for meals and celebrations. It’s where my children have taken their first steps and said their first words. It’s not just a house, it’s a home. That is way more important than the paint peeling on the front door.
But seriously, y’all, that kitchen is getting redone because it is not functional, it’s falling apart, and is just generally gross. *nod*