Every Spring, I look around my wet yard and see the piles of leaves and a spongy lawn that makes me want to live in a place where I don’t have to clean up the yard. Then the fantasies about calling a realtor and walking away from it all loom in my head.
There’s an irrigation problem I’ve never gotten fixed properly, and as soon as I rake the oak leaves, they all seem to come back within a week.
When it snows, which it does often, I need to plan out a huge chunk of time to clear the driveway, walkway, and shovel the snow off the deck so it won’t collapse (it’s already happened to me once).
When my garage door stopped working, I felt like an idiot calling around to different places to have it repaired. The people on the other end were asking me all kinds of questions so they could troubleshoot as best they could so they’d know which parts to bring, and I was lost. I might as well have been trying to decide on a foreign language.
When my furnace stopped in the middle of the night last winter, it took hours before I talked to someone who could help. And when I smelled gas last spring, I was in a panic when a guy arrived from the place that delivers my gas. He was a little too touchy-feely for me as he asked if I was a single mother while he watched my kids through the window watching television.
These are the moments when I want to cry “Uncle.” These are the reasons I have fantasies about selling my home and renting so I don’t have to worry about calling three companies to get a price on my roof.
There are days I wake up and see a lock is broken, or my taxes have gone up, or none of our outside spigots work right, and it feels like it’s too much work for one person.
There’s no one to talk about home repairs or finances with. I can’t lean over the island to get my partner’s advice on whether something should be fixed or replaced.
Then I come home after a run and see the pear trees I planted when my son was four, in bloom. The sense of comfort that spreads over my heart is all I need.
When I drop my kids off at their father’s house on a winter’s night and come home to see my porch covered in glittery snow and the way the front lights bounce off the door I’ve painted at least a dozen different colors, I know that I am home.
As a little girl, as a young woman, as a mother, I didn’t think I’d be a solo home owner. I never thought my name would be the only one on the mortgage. Owning a home was something I always thought I’d do with someone I loved and trusted.
We’d pick out a new refrigerator together when the old one died. We’d figure it out together if the roof needed to be replaced or the furnace went. We’d fight while painting the kids‘ rooms. We’d push each other to do the raking just to have it done because even though we’d both hate it, we’d want our yard to look nice. Then, we’d reward ourselves with a burger and shake afterwards.
I’m incredibly lucky to be living in the home where my kids have lived their whole lives. When my ex left, he wanted that for his kids, and we were able to work it out.
But I knew it would come at a cost. And a high one at that. I didn’t know about the money worries or the sleepless nights or the hard labor. I mean, I knew they would be there, but I didn’t know what it would feel like to experience them. Your deck boards don’t start rotting when you are good and rested with enough money in your bank account to snap your fingers and have them replaced.
I’ve worked incredibly hard to keep my home. I’ve done it for my kids, but I’ve also done it for me.
I’ve learned these past four years of being a solo homeowner that I can trust myself to make the important decisions, and that’s enough.
Also, this year after raking my whole yard alone, I took myself out for a burger and a shake, and it was pretty damn fulfilling. I sat there looking at pictures of my kids with my home in the background, knowing with my entire being that every ounce of effort is so worth making — even if I do have to do it on my own.