(Part 1 in the Home Stewardship series of posts)
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I've been thinking long and hard about what it means to be a good steward of our homes. And, then try as I might, I could not get myself to sit down and write some of the thoughts on the subject that I've had.
Because I couldn't get over my grumpy, dumpy hump. But, sometimes the best way to get over those humps is to push past them with all your might. And, that's what I'm going to try to do. So, here goes....
I struggle with contentment big time. For one, I LOVE houses....especially older homes, homes with character. This means that I love to look at what's out there on local real estate websites and auction websites, on HGTV's House Hunters, etc. And, while I love to look, sometime (most times) this leaves me feeling like what I have isn't good enough.
Let's face it. Society would like us to believe that perfection is the norm. And, everybody wants it NOW. People want 'turn key' properties. They've bought into the idea that they can NOT live with any imperfections. And, anything they deem ugly or outdated must be fixed immediately to make a property live-able. That's what it seems a lot of people believe anyway.
Our house was built in the 1930's (by John's great uncle & great aunt actually). It is small. It is falling apart in places. It has a lot of it's original...um...character. For some reason they thought that putting linoleum on the walls would be a good idea. (For cleaning purposes? I really don't know). We've removed some of it, but there are still areas in the house where it's still intact. That's just one of the many, many aspects of our house that most people wouldn't dream of living with.
We've done bits and pieces of our house over the almost 10 years of our marriage. In retrospect, we probably should have pushed really hard to get it all done in that first year or two before we started having children. But, we were (we are) trying to live debt free. And, just making ends meet has been a struggle off and on over the years much less setting aside extra money for renovations.
Time is also a big constraint...especially now that we have four boys. My husband is a busy guy. He's got a lot on his plate between his full-time job (usually 50+ hours/week), his part-time job (teaching motorcycle safety on occassional weekends), managing our rental property, maintaining our yard, home (cutting, splitting, stacking wood for our coal/wood burning furnace...our heat source), and vehicles (if they need fixed, he does it himself). Plus, he has a number of hobbies/interests which include tractors, engines, and motorcycles.
Did I mention that my husband is the type of guy who wants to do all the work himself? The idea of hiring someone to work on the home renovations is out of the question in his mind. Why pay someone to do the work when he can do it and can do it for 1/2 or even 1/3 of the cost?
But, my husband is one person. And, so....I wait.
Waiting has been one hurdle that I struggle with. I've lived with my husband long enough that I know telling him over and over what I want done only annoys him and stresses him. And, one time (only once) on someone's advice I set a 'deadline' for him for a couple of projects and told him that after that point I would hire someone to do it. Mistake. Big mistake. Note to self: Treating my husband like a little boy is not an effective means of communicating my needs/desires and does not open up healthy dialogue.
The truth is I've been frustrated because I don't know how to do the work that needs done. And, even if I did - just taking care of my boys, preparing meals, laundry, cleaning is overwhelming enough.
I've been embarrassed to invite people to my house sometimes. I'll be really honest here. I've worried that people will think we are 'low class' if they see the type of home we live in. Is that terrible? Well, it's terrible in the sense that it's another way I've kept myself isolated.
I crave having the type of home that feels warm and welcoming. A place where people enjoy hanging out. And, I want the type of place that my boys want to bring their friends to hang out. And, guess what? Most of that has nothing to do with the type of house we own, and everything to do with hospitality....and changing my mindset.
Next post I'm going to take a look at some practical ways I've been trying to change my attitude and become a good steward of my home.