I’ve lived in The Little House for 25 years now . . . 20 of those years was with XH and he was the one that made most (okay all) of the decisions about decorations, painting, remodeling, furniture, etc. He said many times that I had no talent for design and wouldn’t listen to any of my ideas.
After the divorce, I struggled with decisions about what I wanted to do to change The Little House to be more mine. I had no faith in my ability to make any decisions about interior design. I had no faith in my ability to pick out paint or furniture. Even though I was certain about the things I didn’t like and I wanted to replace or change, I was so unsure about where to start or how to do what I wanted to accomplish that my fear of failure or making a mistake kept me from doing anything.
Then Prince Charming moved in to The Little House. I wanted “my” house to become “our” home. We talked about the things I wanted to change. He told me about the things he wanted to change. We made plans . . . to take down the lean-to attached to the garage and replant my rose garden . . . to scale back the massive flower bed in the front yard and make something more in tune with the style of the house . . . to put down new carpet on the front porch and the front steps (the steps I fell off of and broke my wrist) . . . to remodel the two-tier deck to one level. We had quite a “To Do” List of things to make The Little House our Happy Little Home.
One of the things we planned to do was to repair the mud room attached to the back of the house. The mud room was XH’s idea. He had the misguided idea that I wanted one because I would comment on them from time to time when I saw them on the home improvement shows. Even though I protested that I didn’t want one, we didn’t need one, and (most importantly) we couldn’t afford to build one he built one anyway. Unfortunately, XH is not a construction guy so the mud room was not built well and over time the poor workmanship started to cause problems. Prince Charming and I talked about tearing down the mud room and Prince Charming convinced me that we could repair the mud room and make it more of what I wanted. He told me that we would be able to do the work ourselves and it would be cheaper to fix it than to tear it down. We started to make plans for that project a few weeks before Prince Charming’s accident.
After Prince Charming died, I reverted back to my scared and unsure self. I now had plans but I knew I couldn’t do the work myself and I had no idea how to go about finding someone to do the work for me. So once again I did nothing.
This spring I decided it was finally time to do something about the mud room. The roof is in bad shape and needs to be repaired. The ceiling has been affected by the problems with the roof and the walls are probably affected, too. It’s a bigger project than what Prince Charming and I had envisioned. I talked to some friends, got some referrals, and found a contractor . . . you know all the stuff grown-ups that own houses have to do from time to time!
During the whole “finding a contractor” process, I waffled back and forth about what I wanted to do about the mudroom. Should I fix the problems and keep the mud room as it is (which is really just a place to collect stuff I’m too lazy to take to the garage) or should I tear it down and get what I’ve always wanted (a nice sized deck with a cover of some sort so I can wipe off the dogs before they come inside). My original decision was to fix the problems with the mud room and keep it as it is . . . because that’s the plan Prince Charming and I had for the space . . . but then I got the estimate for that option. Let’s just say that I was floored at how much it was going to cost to fix something I don’t like and didn’t want in the first place.
After much soul searching and many discussions with the dear friends who help me make these kinds of decisions . . . I got a piece of advice that I’ll never forget. After listening to me carry on about how I had no idea what to do, a dear friend said to me, “Pam, this is your house now. You’re the one that is living there. What do YOU want to do?” When I responded that I wanted to tear down the mud room and build a covered deck, the response I heard was “Then that’s what you should do.”
“This is your house now”
What a powerful thing for me to hear . . . for me to finally understand . . .
I’ve been divorced from XH for almost 5 years . . . and Prince Charming has been gone for 18 months now . . . I paid off the mortgage a year ago . . . and this is the first time I’ve even entertained the thought that this is MY house and I get to do what I want and how I want and I’m the only one that has to be happy with the outcome of those decisions.
Once I processed what my dear friend said, making the decision was easy. Once I told the contractor what I wanted to do, he was ecstatic about the change of plans. Tearing down the mud room and building a deck was something he wanted to suggest because he was afraid of what he was going to find once he tore off the roof the mud room.
Construction starts August 3 . . . and for the first time in my life I’m so excited about a home improvement project that I can hardly stand it!!