House Envy

Today we had a little end-of-the-year party for Miles’ preschool class, hosted by one of the parents at their home. I waited until the very last minute to feed the baby and dress all 3 of us, ensuring the best chance of us leaving the house in our original outfits. So, naturally, we arrived 40 min. late, the baby covered in spit-up.

Anyway, this family’s house was GORGEOUS. I mean stunning. It was built around the same time as ours in the 1930s, judging by the identical bathroom tile. But that’s where the similarities stopped. Their house had been tastefully updated and beautifully decorated. Every room looked like the page of a magazine.

I tried not to get all green-eyed, but I had to laugh when Miles said when we were in the bathroom, “Mom, look at all the beautiful things in here.” It’s true. We don’t have French hand soap in a silver dispenser and flowers in our bathroom; just stacks of rumpled books, damp mismatched towels, and a plastic potty.

Of course, if we were having the whole class over, I’d make a little more of an effort. But, still. When we got back home, I looked around our cluttered abode with disappointment. I like to think we have SOME style, but there’s only so much you can do with hand-me-down furniture and a coat of paint. Especially when you have a dog who’s prone to shedding and 2 kids.

But you know, I’ve never aspired to live in a designer showplace. I certainly didn’t grow up that way. I remember one time in high school going over to a friend’s sleek, modern, white-carpeted house. Everything was glass and stainless steel, and nothing was out of place. When I returned home to our eclectic mess, I asked my mom what was up with our non-decor. “We prefer to spend our money on education and travel,” she said. Touche. The irony is, when I visit them now I think, “Wow, that upholstery has really held up well, and look at those gorgeous wood floors.”

Now that I’m a homeowner myself and know what things cost, I’m amazed my parents even did as much as they did with our house growing up. My friends and I joke that the minimum estimate for most any smallish home improvement job is $2,000. All of us have encountered it. Want the stairwell stripped of wallpaper and repainted? $2k. Built-in shelving for that tiny corner of the family room? $2k. Unless, of course, you’re talking about waterproofing our basement. Then it’s $10k (!). Needless to say, our basement still floods when it rains.

I know it’s silly, but now I’m self-conscious about having my son's schoolmates over for playdates. Will they judge us for our ghetto duct tape and foam babyproofing around the fireplace? Will they sneer at our outdated kitchen appliances and chipped tile? Will they wonder why there’s a changing table and diaper pail in the dining room? (Because it’s easier than trudging upstairs 10x a day!)

Probably not. Probably it’s just my own insecurities and I should get over them. But it didn’t stop me from embarking on a cleaning frenzy the minute we got home. Now, the damp towels are folded neatly and the potty is shoved out of sight. Maybe I’ll even buy some of that fancy French soap.

LINK O’ THE WEEK: This was written by one of my students: The Myth of the Perfect House. Kinda makes you think, huh?

SHOUT OUT: Happy Birthday to my dear old dad! (Emphasis on the “old.” Hee, hee!)


Loukia said...

I too feel this way when I visit certain friends whose homes could very well be in a house magazine! I get in a major cleaning mood when I get back home, too... trying to de-clutter our mess. My one friend, whom we have playdates with every week, (one week her house, one week my house) has a stunning and massive home near ours - except there are no toys is sight! (Her children are a bit older than mine, but still...) and her backyard looks like a resort, with a pool that has a waterfall, 3 different patio tables, outdoor bar/cabana, etc... you get the picture! When her kids come over to our house, though, they are in heaven and can't stop playing and 'oohing' and 'aahing' over everything they see! So from a child's perspective - my house rocks! And for now, that's good enough for me. I used to have a home that looked like it could be in a PB catalogue, (or at least I tried!) but now it looks like a day care facility. But you know what? My boys are happy, and I proudly display their artwork all over our family room walls! :)

tineroche said...

My friend from overseas just left and I was in great panik for weeks to get the house 'presentable' for her visit. I also tried to achieve the perfect look, but with a belly of a woman in her 38th week of pregnancy, you can only do so much. Even though many things were still out of order and not where they belong she thought that we have a very warm and 'homie' looking house which made me very happy. She has always told me that I worry way too much about things like that so I will try to cut myself some slack and forget about the magazines and the unimportant things that the TV shows are trying to tell us are so important in our life. Instead I will take it easy and try to focus on the birth of my hopefully soon to come second son! Thanks for the great blog!

Related Posts with Thumbnails