Have you ever had a dream, or imagined if you just had “that” (job, house, spouse, car), then you would finally have it all? Well I did. Until I realized dreams change. Or rather the priorities that drive your dreams, change. I’m not even sure now if you CAN have it all. It seems that something always has to give. I’m still learning, but I think it’s more about sticking to your priorities and then accepting happiness with what that life brings to you. It is so scary to face change- the what-ifs about past choices, the worry of regret with new decisions, the unknown of what lies ahead. And it’s impossible to not let big changes spill into all parts of your daily life, consuming you with the bi-polar feelings of excitement and fear. Welcome to my summer.
Six years ago my husband and I sold our “starter” home to buy a dream house. After countless visits to traditional track homes for sale we found an older, large, custom home on a golf course in the neighborhood I had dreamt of living in since I was a child. It had a kitchen larger than any I had ever seen. It had floor to ceiling windows in all of the main living area to admire the beautiful growth around it. It had a pool with a slide and a 3 ½ car garage with an additional workshop and bedroom. We thought we’d live here forever.
It also had 2,850 square feet to clean, not to mention the 900 square foot space downstairs to keep organized. Remember all those windows? Somebody had to dust those blinds. The oak trees around the house dropped leaves like nobody’s business and keeping up the yard was a never ending task. Cleaning the expansive hardwood floors took over an hour. Over the course of time we remodeled two bathrooms and replaced windows, carpet, etc. But it soon became apparent that our project list was still lengthy and expensive. We began to reexamine our priorities.
Our house was affordable, but our constant project list was a drain on our finances. While relandscaping could have waited, there were other not-so-fun things on the list that couldn’t. And the big projects, as well as the day-to-day upkeep were an energy drain and a source of arguments. I have been blessed with being able to work part time since we had kids and last year my husband cut back on his work to spend more time with the kids (and me). As we examined our options, we had priorities to put in order. We could go back to working more and have more money to put into the general upkeep and remodeling of the house. This meant less time with our kids and each other. It meant less vacations and less savings. We wondered, did we really want this much house and yard forever? Because it would be silly to ever leave after making those kind of sacrifices.
Or, we could find a smaller house, with a more manageable yard. We could begin to do a better job of saving for retirement and college and have extra money to do the traveling that we love to do. This though of course meant giving up the immense storage space, the ooos and ahhs visitors would give us regarding our home, and leaving six years of memories and the only home our children ever knew. We loved our amazing view, the privacy and our crazy fun neighbors.
Making big decisions is not for the faint. We spent more than a month beginning the discussion to sell and changing the subject because neither of us wanted to make a decision. I am so grateful that my husband and I were on the same page regarding this huge change, but the emotion involved was still so hard. Where else did we want to live? Same town, same state? How were the kids going to handle this? I questioned if we had failed- not being able to hack it all. I was heartbroken to leave behind the memories. But logically it all made perfect sense. When we finally put it up for sale we said we were just testing the market. There was a little bubble happening and we thought it we could make some money on the sale, it would help sweeten the plan. Within days we had multiple offers. I panicked, as I hadn’t had enough time to process this decision yet. The first offer fell through, but still, within 60 days of the “For Sale” sign going up, we were closing escrow.
It was a whirlwind of emotion. If you’ve ever been through this or are thinking of making a big change, you will want to check back tomorrow (link is here!) to ride my of emotions with me.
Read: Where We Are Now