I was going to a home visit with a colleague the other day and the house we went to was absolutely gorgeous! Probably a $500,000 house, perfectly laid out and decorated. A comfy family room with a large screen tv and new, modern furniture. It had a large, expertly maintained backyard with a perfect multi-level playground system for their happy, young children. As we left the visit, my co-worker told me that she would LOVE to have a house like that, as would her children. Since her divorce, she has had to explain to them that they can only afford a small house, using the excuse that she only has limited money so she can’t afford anything better. It was an honest comment, and one that many people probably share.
I have four wonderful, loving sisters-in-laws. They all have beautiful, large, and well maintained houses. Granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances, (which I’ve learned from House Hunters is a “must”.) We gather at their houses regularly for birthday parties and holidays, and I always enjoy admiring their latest piece of new furniture, wall decoration, or new carpeting. After that conversation with my co-worker, I realized that I admire their houses, but I am not jealous, nor do I covet their homes. Good for them that they have the money to have such a nice home for their families! I am happy for them! If I had the money, sure, I’d be happy to have a home like that, but I don’t, and I’m still happy.
The thought never crossed my mind to to feel badly about my own, old, ramshakle house. After spending much of my childhood living out of a VW van, I think ours is a perfect house for our family. It is old because it was once a summer cottage and my dad, in his schizophrenic frenzy, added on here and there. It has some quirks; the hot and cold water faucets are backwards, the doors of the kitchen cabinets are made out of wall paneling, the parquet wood floors have been stained from years of foot traffic in and out from the snow, and the windows are old and some don’t open anymore. But we managed to set up three suitable bedrooms on the main floor, (sometimes four while fostering infants, when we turned the laundry room into a nursery,) and three suitable bedrooms in the basement. (Only our biological son and adopted children could sleep in the rooms in the basement because the Department of Children and Families does not allow foster children to sleep there.) We also have a large dining area to fit 16 at a long table with benches for seats, and a family room where the tv, toys and computer are kept. And we commenced to raise our family. This house, while not elegant or even attractive, suits us. We’ve had many years of children’s laughter and tears. Many years of care and patient acceptance. Many years of tragedies and triumphs. Even though we don’t have the money to have more luxurious surroundings, our home contains the most important thing of all; indescribable, life affirming, heart warming LOVE!