I've had an anxiety dream on repeat ever since we bought our overwhelmingly difficult fixer-upper house in 1996. In this dream my husband and I buy a falling down house and put all of our time, money and energy into the house only to give up and sell it at a loss. The subsequent buyers do a couple of tiny and inexpensive projects and are able to bring it to a magazine-worthy state. In short, we do 99.99% of the work, yet don't get to enjoy any of the results of of our backbreaking labor. My husband and I are then heartbroken and filled with regret.
It's been a few years since I've had this dream, and had kind of forgotten about it.
Until last night.
But my running dream took an unexpected turn to the left.
Last night's dream featured my husband and myself visiting the new owners of the house only to discover that yes, some projects looked impressive from the outside, but the interior stairs were falling apart, the living room had unfinished splintery floors and the fancy painted ceiling was collapsing. My husband and I left the house whispering to each other about how smart we were to have sold the house when we did, and how happy we were to be in our current home.
You don't have to be Freud to make the connection that I just got home from visiting my sister for two weeks, and that I'm very happy with the life my husband and teenage sons have crafted in our 1914 fixer-upper.
Yes, almost everything we own is either thrifted or hauled home from someone else's castoff pile, and there are more than a few embarrassingly unfinished projects. But those things are just that. Things . . .
Our fixer-upper used to feel like a burden and cause me a lot of anxiety. Not only did I regret taking on an endlessly expensive project, but it put a lot of pressure on my husband to spend all his spare time being a contractor, which he isn't. Stressful for him and guilt inducing for me. Oh, joy!
But our project heavy house holds countless wonderful family memories, all surrounded by unfinished wood trim, a never-built second bathroom and a hideous basement. We raised our sons in this house, yet I highly doubt that they've ever been bothered by the bare wood trim or the mostly tiled bathroom. What they have noticed is the love and attention they've received through the years. Home cooked meals in the dining room, the four of us snuggled up watching library movies on our got-it-for-free television and endless Lego sessions on the living room floor.
A magazine worthy house would be great, but it just can't be my main priority. Not when there are meals to be enjoyed and Lego castles to construct.
Our house may be incomplete, but our home has everything it needs. Thanks Freud for once again pointing out the obvious.