I may have had a bit of a breakthrough regarding our house. I have pretty much spent the last 2 years feeling a little bit displaced and homeless. I moved in with Mr. CC in Oct 2006. I moved into his place, which used to be his parents house. His father passed away in 2001 and his mother continued to live here until 2004. The house was pretty much a shrine to his father in that very little had been moved since he had died. When I moved in five years after his death, the closets were still full of Mr. CC’s father’s clothes. The entire hallway smelled of medication because Mr. CC’s father had been sick for a very long time, and there were entire closets stuffed full of bandages and medications. It was quite possibly the creepiest and saddest house I had ever lived in. To be honest, I’m not sure moving in here when I did was a good idea – the house and all the accompanying craziness came pretty close to breaking us up. On the other hand, we’re still together and our relationship has never been stronger so who knows, maybe it was a necessary step – but it was bloody hard.

I have always been very unhappy in this house. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great house with good bones and a pretty fabulous location. It has the potential to be a lovely place to raise a family in. But to me it always seemed to be a house that was looking backwards, as if it’s best times had come and gone and the only thing left to do was hold onto those memories as tightly as possible. All the furnishings were from 30 years ago, wallpaper was peeling off in great big swathes but needed to be kept because it was something fancy from Paris. There was shit EVERYWHERE – little tsotchkes and knickknacks on every surface. I hate to say it, but it just gave off a vibe of ‘cuh – razy’. This house would have been odd if Mr. CC’s mom was still living in it, but not so unusual for an older person’s home. But with us in it, it was clear that there was some major dysfunction involved – here we were, relaxed, thirtysomethings who like to have friends over for pizza and beer, who enjoy having friends, kids and dogs around, living in a formal, pretentious house more suited for an old woman – and doing nothing to change it.

That was the crux of the matter – that we were doing nothing to change it. It had a lot to do with Mr. CC’s mother who was very attached to her son and the house, clearly upset about my presence in both and going out of the way to let me know how unwelcome I was. Mr. CC had let her become very dependent on him after his father’s death and while he was beginning to draw boundaries, it was hard for him to make changes in the house as well. So I became the one who made the changes – and boy, did I take a lot of hits for doing so. It took me a long time to realize that they needed to be the ones who were making the changes – As long as I continued to be the driving force, neither Mr. CC nor his mother ever had to take any responsibility or deal with their emotions around the changes. She could focus on the anger she felt towards me for making the changes and he could straddle the fence – look like he was supporting me by not stopping me but, not really moving on himself. So I decided to just stop, do nothing, and let them to deal with it. It was quite possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done – saying this is your deal, you fix it or let me know if you can’t fix it, but this is not something I can control. Mr. CC stepped up, his mother not so much… he really took the lead in getting the house cleared up and opening up a space so that we could make it what we want. His mother on the other hand seems to become more vindictive and weird everyday – but that is her choice.

All that as background to say that this house was crazy and I hated it (I suppose I could have said just that but no one really gets the depth of the crazy when I say that). Even with all the changes I have never felt at home in it. You know that feeling when you lock the door and tell yourself that you are just going to luxuriate in the feeling of being in your own home? When you wander around looking at your home and feeling completely comfortable because what you see is a reflection of you? The familiar, the comfortable… And this feeling can only come when you are truly at home. While a hotel or someone else’s home may be pleasant, probably prettier than yours and have more style – it doesn’t provide quite the same level of relaxation as being around your own couch, with the raggedy blanket and cushions that fit just so. Well, I never quite felt like that in this house. I always felt that I was in someone else’s home and any minute they would come by and yell at me for being there or make me feel uncomfortable in some other way. I never quite relaxed here.

But this time when I came home from my conference I felt such sweet relief when I stepped into the house. I could feel the tension just drain from me, I didn’t have to work to relax anymore, it just happened. It’s taken me two years to get here, and while that’s not a long time in the grand scheme of things, it’s a long time to feel homeless. Partly it’s because we’ve made a lot of changes in the last two years, but more importantly it’s because emotionally we’re in different space where the house is concerned. We used to be apologetic and guilty about making changes, now it is just seems like the most obvious thing to do. It’s been a process getting here but I do think that this pregnancy has helped it along.

I once asked a friend what was the biggest change she’d felt when she became a mom and I remember that her answer surprised me – she said her priorities became really clear and she had no time for bullshit anymore. I had been expecting some flowery sentiments, and was taken aback by the answer.  I did see this in action with her, I was on her dissertation committee and she had been floundering for a bit, but once she became pregnant it was like she was on a mission to complete the PhD, and she did.  That’s how I feel now – my priority is creating a home for us and I have no patience for anyone’s bullshit anymore – especially not my own.

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