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We live in a nice house. We have a yard for the kids to play in and friendly neighbors and have renovated enough rooms to make it almost perfect. Almost. I can’t help but fantasize about having a master bathroom, one where I don’t have to share precious counter space with Spongebob toothpaste and that doesn’t smell like stale pee every other day (little boys have notoriously bad aim, you know). I fantasize about having closets in my own room instead of using half of Austin’s and the one in the spare room and the drawers below the linen closet in the hallway. I fantasize about a mudroom, complete with hooks and shelves for each person’s boots and cleats and backpacks, so we don’t trip on the shoes that inevitably pile up in the back hall.

So we’ve been looking. Just casually, without a realtor, we’ve gone to Sunday open houses in our community, never venturing outside the borders of Cleveland Heights.  Every time we check out a house I can  picture us living there. I mentally move us in, decide which colors ot paint the walls, know who would reside in each bedroom. But Mark is skeptical (or maybe he’s just practical), considering the cost of utilities and noting the number of improvements we’d have to make before we really loved it.

But this past weekend, we visited a house that I’ve passed over several times, skipping its previous open houses and not fully considering it, because it is a mansion. Not just big, not even just huge, but a mansion. And they are practically giving it away. It’s owned by a relocation company and they just want to be done with it. I mean, it is an absolute steal. And there’s nothing wrong with it, this is no fixer upper. It has redone floors and a gourmet kitchen and a master suite complete with two walk-in closets, an office and a “glamour bath.” That is a silly word to use, I know, but this IS a glamour bath. It’s on a great street with family after family of young kids. Little ones live on both sides including a five-year-old boy right next door who Braedan could walk to elementary school with every day for the next six years. There is nothing wrong with it, except that it’s so damn big.

The living space is reasonable. The first floor is smaller (relative term!) than the rest because there’s an attached three-car garage that adds considerable square footage to the second and third floors. But we would use the first floor in its entirety. And the second floor is divided up so that there are two bedrooms and a bathroom close to the master suite (oh, I love saying that: master suite), with an additional two farther down a long hall, that could be used as a playroom and maybe a workout room (oh, I love saying that!). So the boys wouldn’t feel far away from us in the night, which was a concern in some of the houses we’ve looked at.

I’m not worried about living in the bigness of it. We could definitely use it (with the exception of the third floor, which the realtor aptly described as a city unto itself). But I worry that I would feel uncomfortable having that be my house. Maybe it’s silly (and this is yet another way I am like my mother), but I would almost be embarassed to call that my home. It’s so grand. What would it say about us? What snap judgements would people make when they see that we live there? I can already picture myself for years to come telling people we’d only bought it because it was so outrageously cheap. Do I need to excuse our excess? I don’t know.

I’m always trying to instill in the boys the idea that we can’t have everything we want, that sometimes other people will have fancier cars or better toys or a bigger trampoline than we do (this house comes with a trampoline, by the way, so both boys are fully committed to the move). I read them The Lorax, both for its protect-the-environment message and for its not-so-subtle hint that “biggering and biggering and biggering and biggering” is not what everyone needs. And yet here we are, thinking about seriously biggering.

I welcome your thoughts on this one. How does where you live define who you are? How do you turn down something so incredible, that you can actually afford, because it’s “too much”?  Mark and I lay awake last night talking about it, reminding each other and ourselves that we’ll never find a house that nice for that value, and I commented yet again about how torn I was. And Mark said, “We’ll make the right decision. And whatever decision we make, we’ll make it right.”

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May 2009
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