Wife of House

I’ve been thinking about a conversation I had with Emily on Sunday. She was home for the weekend to attend a wedding with a friend. As she prepared to drive back to college, she said, “I really don’t want to go.” It’s not that she dislikes her courses or her teachers. And she has lots of new friends. It’s that the school is very small, in a very small town, and there is “nothing to do.”

We looked at a college in north Georgia over the winter holidays – a school Emily would like to transfer to. The problem is that her ACT/SAT scores are below the minimum cut-off. If she applies now, the college will evaluate her high school transcript and these scores. She needs 30 college hours before the school will ignore her high school record and accept her based on college performance.

Emily is stuck. She understands that she needs to stick it out where she is, complete the remedial classes, take advantage of the special services, and continue to succeed academically. But it’s hard to be someplace you don’t want to be even if you know it’s where you need to be and what you need to be doing. I bet Skye can relate…

So can I, unfortunately. Our house has been on the market for over three months.

housefront

Half our belongings are in storage. (Being without this extra stuff isn’t really so bad. We’ve managed fine without it. It was the days of getting everything boxed and ready to move that hurt.) Then there was the “staging” – buying decorative pillows, throws, plants, and other items to be placed just so.

plants

But it’s the constant cleaning that is killing me psychologically. Every Saturday is family cleaning day and each member has their assignments: clutter removal, trash collection, bedrooms, bathrooms, vacuuming, dusting… I dread the approach of Saturdays. Does the house STAY clean and ready to show? You’ve got to be kidding.

When I get the call/text a few hours or the day before a prospective buyer wants to see the house, this is what happens. If children are home, they are informed to pick up their rooms (so I can go behind them later and do a better job ☺) Floors are reviewed for obvious dirt. If we have too much accumulated dirty laundry (giving the bedrooms an odor), I call for hampers at the laundry area and begin the washing. John, if he is home, checks for burned-out light bulbs and surveys the outside areas for needed repairs, trimming, or other issues…

As the time for the showing nears, I go room-by-room, picking up and putting away what is left out, making beds, cleaning bathroom sinks (and toilets or tubs, if necessary)…

bathrooms

…washing dishes, hiding kitchen appliances to create clear surfaces, cleaning counters and appliances and windows of gunk or smears…

kitchensurfaces

…turning on every light in the house, and gathering trash from every trashcan in the house for removal. Then it is time to leash the dogs and move them to the van. Once that is done, I can remove the sheets from the sofas and set up the pillows and throws.

decorativepillows

I can go back around the three floors of the house and open the doors to rooms where the dogs are not allowed to go. In the basement, I remove the dog barrier (which protects Joe from comingling with Xavior) and stow it and Joe’s dog bed in John’s work area. I hide dog bowls. I move outside to remove the various ties and latches we’ve installed to divide the yard and keep the male dogs apart and/or from escaping to the street, and hide these items. Finally, I pick up all the piles of dog poop that may be stepped in. I get in the van with my three companions: Joe, Xavior, and Katie, and drive away… Once I came home an hour after the scheduled “showing” and undid all the preparations to allow the dogs back in only to hear the doorbell ring. It was the agent and buyer who were “running behind schedule.” Ugh!

I’m stuck. I don’t want to be a cleaning lady! God did not create me for this. I am sure of it. I’m not even very good at cleaning. Just ask my husband how many times he has said, “Don’t you SEE that dirt?” And to add to the misery, I can’t really afford to start any “projects” or even cook fancy meals because I am so aware that those efforts only create more stuff to clean.

Friends, family members, and readers who are suffering in much harsher ways with no end in sight will shake their heads at the triviality of my complaints. The Falcos are lucky to have this house to sell. We are fortunate people in general.

My point is: All of us ought to take a look at what’s eating us and try to put it in perspective. Is this a short-term thing? Difficult as the present may be, is it leading us to something potentially better? Is there anything we can do to change what is making us uncomfortable/unhappy now? Is there a way to use our experiences and insights, happy or not, to help others?

If Emily can hang in there and do her best at Andrew College, she is creating a launch pad for other and different experiences she may enjoy more at another college. If K.J. can finally give up lying about what he hasn’t done, but says he has, and put the effort he is capable of into his school work, his grades will improve and allow him a greater range of choices for college. If Skye will dig deeper in her treatment now, painful as it is, she will have a happier and more productive life when she leaves west Texas. If I can see this cleaning drudgery as a temporary phase leading to a better housing situation for our family, I can get through this with greater calm and decrease the family stress.

Your issues – unemployment or unhappy employment, illness or family strife – may be bigger than the issues we currently face. Is there a way out or a way through? Are there others you can call on for help? Have you learned anything about yourself that will help you navigate better what comes next?

I’m no expert. What I do know is that being stuck in miserable is not the way I want to live my life.

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