I’ve always known I’m a bit materialistic, it’s not fashionable to admit it… but how often do you see people on your social news feed showing off their latest purchase or home renovation?
As I’ve grown into my adult years I have begun to take delight in ‘things’……it’s easy to dismiss this as an interest in home style or even a slightly snobbish view of toys, but recently I’ve had to come face-to-face with my own belief system and it’s not been pretty.
Yes I’m a bit slummy, yes housework isn’t top priority, but I genuinely do feel down if the house is a mess or the sofa dirty…. and, as a perfectionist, I see it as a reflection of myself, that it’s in some way a sign I’m not coping as a person, or even a mother, if the dishes remain on the side or we don’t have nice furniture and decor. At times it’s got me down.
But before you dismiss me as completely shallow, let me explain
After my adoption at age three…. I lived in a nice house with nice things, my mother was very particular with style and our house was always beautiful. I went back into the care system when I was at the start of my teens and, having my daughter at age 19, I lived in some truly horrific places before we finally moved to our current house. Everything I own is a symbol of how far I’ve come. I cling to things because ‘home’ is very abstract to me.
It took sacrifice and years of hard work…. barely eating or saving for furniture…… there’s always been an inner snob in me… ever since a young age I was taught about ‘quality’. I honestly don’t think my mother ever ordered a flat pack piece from Argos….. if I ever had to make do with second hand in my adult life I felt I was failing….. because ‘cheap’ wasn’t how I was brought up! If I was proud of the home I created, the flat packs I’d saved for or the wall I had pained by myself….I could still sense her disapproval on the v few times she visited…..evidence that I still hadn’t made it yet!
I was a benefit mum with a inner snob complex
So, I worked long hours and shifts around university. I was determined to ‘do better’ and, finally, after ten years….. We moved into our beautiful: albeit rented home two years ago! I didn’t need to be ‘ashamed’ anymore….. This home gave me a sense of achievement, I’d gone from a bedsit…. council houses and homes with pealing paint, mould and damp…..horrible estates and even homelessness….to my dream house. It had been a long journey to get here and it symbolised to me, everything I had worked for. It was an outward sign of all I had gone through. My Emeral City!
But now we are moving. And the house we are going to needs a lot of work, the living space is considerably smaller, although we gain a bedroom…and I have cried at the thought of leaving here.
The decision to move is one of necessity, our son is due to start school in September and our landlord had hinted he intends to sell at some point in the next few years. I adore the little village where we live, the school has been wonderful for H….but she’s destined for high school in September, and I want to be nearer friends for the new baby. The chances of another place coming up in this village are very slim, so, rather than interrupt Roos education at a later date, we have had to take the only house available to us in the next village along.
We knew this was coming so we put Roo in the preschool there, I’m chair of the toddler group there also…… I hoped we would be able to get him into the school while still living here as long as possible…. but the intake is high….and we now know he wouldn’t be in with a chance…. We hung on for two years hoping a ‘nice’ place would come up…..but it hasn’t! and so we are taking what we can….
I’ve cried a lot over the past few weeks. It feels like we are taking a big step back. But I’ve also had to search my soul a bit. There are people without homes. There are people who can’t afford to move. I know all of this and it’s taken a while to come to terms with our decision. But more so to come to terms with my own materialism and sense of identity.
Over the new year I’ve read blog post after blog post on bucket lists for 2017, families planning far flung holidays or extravagant extensions…. Trips here and visits there and, I’ve cringed … because when did money or surroundings equal success or happiness? Living near my friends when baby arrives, our boys having a consistent education with the children they have been to preschool with…..These things are infinitely more important than if I have a frikkin utility room and, I’m ashamed.
I’ve had to rethink what makes me happy. As well as my reasons for being such a perfectionist…..It’s so easy to say you don’t care about ‘stuff’ but really it’s not until we are faced with losing certain comforts, or living a certain lifestyle, that we realise 1.how much we rely on it for our own self worth and 2. How this information about ourselves can make us a better person.
I’m still the person who got a first class degree without any parental support…..or anyone to turn to when I was up until 3am writing essays…. I’m still the person who is raising three little people….hopefully without screwing up their childhood in the way mine was taken from me. I’m still the woman my husband loves… he loved me in my mouldy rotten house and he loves me now in our beautiful one. I’m someone who can say ‘I have some superstar friends’ who I know will support me when baby arrives, who couldn’t care less where I’m living or what my house looks like….. and I’m someone who can take pride in their achievements without needing to flaunt to the world… because I’m constantly examining my own motivations and feelings to be a better person and, hopefully, I’ll raise children who don’t give a crap where their sofa comes from, or if they have to wait until we can afford wallpaper…..they’ll just be humble and thankful they have a bedroom at all!
Here’s to our new House! With its zebra print wall paper, stained carpets and dated kitchen! You’re not a reflection of me! But we will make you ours because we are a family and that’s all we need to make you a home.