My husband & I decided to put our house on the market.
We don’t have to sell it but there was a time not too long ago that we almost did. Our beloved perfect home came with a hefty price tag all those years ago and frankly, the mortgage is a big nut each month. Always has been. When my husband lost his job for a bit of time a couple of years ago, we watched in trepidation as that nut grew into an entire tree, leaning and inching closer to our heads and blocking out the sun with every week of a missing paycheck. Going through financial duress while your kids are all going through college is not for the weak, trust me.
Things eventually turned around but that murky fear of what if they don’t really never has been forgotten. It’s always simmering, bubbling beneath even the happiest of times. So, while we’re in a stable place right now we decided to test the real estate waters and see if anyone else thinks this place is the bomb, too. Besides, who doesn’t dream about downsizing?
We’ll soon see how that goes but that really isn’t my point in divulging this news. Hell no. Instead I am here to publicly proclaim that, because of this experience, I have discovered the Holy Grail of Happiness. Are you ready? Have you gathered ‘round closer? Got your readers on?
I implore you to heed my next four words:
Throw. Out. Your. Shit.
I’m not even kidding; the results will astound you.
When we decided to unload our adored albatross we set up a five-month plan for ourselves:
Month 1: Purge.
We scheduled Goodwill pickups every month and got to work decluttering. Heavenly gods of garbage, we had no idea how bad it was (truth: one never does). We emptied out cabinets that were filled with glassware from our 1990 engagement party, plastic cups from every concert venue on the eastern seaboard and beer cozies from every pub giveaway ever grabbed (my gawd, there’s been a lot of beer in our lives and apparently it’s very important to keep it chilled at all times). We gathered all the rarely used kitchen gadgets and duplicate cookware (sorry, five friends who once left behind a long-forgotten Pyrex pie plate, all have found another home) and threw them in the pile, too. Banished were the bridal shower bedsheets and boxed up were the dusty dorm duvets. It was a start.
Month 2: (Purge and) Patch.
We kept purging (sayonara, stacks of children’s books and outdated leather trench coats) but we also started repairing all the yuck. You know yuck. Yuck is all the nasty-ass things around your home that have become part of the scenery you’ve been ignoring for years. We fixed the crack in in the ceiling we’ve stared at for more than a decade. We patched up walls where little elbows had crashed through the years and smoothed plaster where ninja noggins had bounced. We cleaned up the scuffs where tiny karate kicks had landed and continued to shell out piles of money to fix things no one would ever notice. No lie, this sucked. Like fixing your muffler.
Month 3: (Purge and Patch and) Paint.
Yes, of course we kept purging. It became a Marie Kondo challenge of epic proportions, getting rid of cheerleading trophies and participation ribbons for any spelling bee, geography bee and instructional swim class my kids ever experienced. Seriously, it was absolutely ridiculous. (You too, right? WHYYYYYY???) But now it was time to spruce things up. We repainted the tired walls of handprints going up each staircase and touched up the bannisters to their original regal state. We spiffed up the porch, the doors, the treads and the trim. My husband then tossed together every forgotten partial gallon of paint that had been neglected in the basement and created a new color. He rolled it onto the basement floor and gave it a crisp, clean facade. My friend/realtor was impressed (a clean and organized basement tells potential buyers you take care of your things—who knew?) but my husband was merely on a mission to get those paint cans gone.
Month 4: (Purge and Patch and Paint and) Pack.
HELL YESSSSS we kept purging. Why did I save every single report card from every single semester for every single kid? Because we all do, that’s why. While not as bad as some of my friends (I did not, like one, save baby teeth #gag), I duly saved everything else like most moms. I carefully sorted through a filing cabinet of homemade Mother’s Day cards, second grade artwork, pediatrician growth forms, prom mementos and a plethora of keepsakes my now-adult children wouldn’t care to look at twice. No joke: it was incredibly hard tossing away all those sentiments of time flown but most of it was silly, even by mom standards. We packed our most-cherished memories (no teeth) into meticulously labeled rubber totes and stacked them neatly in the basement (you know, on the nice painted floor).
Month 5: (Purge and Patch and Paint and Pack and) Prepare.
When all that was done (ahead of schedule – it really is amazing how addicted you become to Throwing. Shit. Out.) we started staging the house. In simpler terms this means eradicating all evidence that you ever actually lived there. Spoiler alert: this was the toughest part. Amazing and happy framed photos of my whole family adorn walls in every room of our home. Even the bathroom. To remove each one and carefully encase it in bubble wrap, not knowing when — or where — it would come back out, was torture. And it screamed of finality. Wait. Are we really doing this? Are we sure? Really?
Man, I hated that.
So now we wait. We have no idea where we’ll go or what we’ll do if it does sell but I will say, the whole endeavor has given my better half & me a lot of opportunity to chat … and muse … and dream … and ponder what our next life adventure will be. We’re in the second act of our sitcom life and it’s not such a bad thing having another common interest after 30-plus years together. We spend weekends creeping at Open Houses and put homes on our Please Wait for Us List … only to dutifully cross them out when they get snatched up and move to our Ones That Got Away List.
It’s all good.
Even better, should others somehow not find our organized basement so appealing, we’ve already committed to a Plan B: unpacking some bubble wrap and staying put for a little while longer in our spit-shined, shit-free home. With this view. Definitely not so bad.
Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements. (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. and@Eyerollingmom on Instagram.
Missed the start of A Momoir? Catch up here:
Chapter 2, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/08/13/chapter-2-sometimes-kids-suck-a-lot/
Chapter 3, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/09/22/chapter-3-sorry-were-tied-all-kids-are-filthy/
Chapter 5, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/04/20/a-momoir-chapter-5-the-magnitude-of-the-middle-aged-mom/
Chapter 10: Click here: A Momoir, Chapter 10: Coming Clean: The Art of Mastering Uncomfortable Conversations