Welcome, Mamma Crew, to another chaotic, exciting, but always beautiful day of an older mom like you!
So, have you ever found yourself questioning a life choice? I have a lot lately, and it started with the pandemic. Let me tell you a bit about our house journey since I’ve been married. When we got married, the first home that we purchased together was about an eighteenth hundred-foot square home. And honestly, I loved that home! We still own it. I still love it. We have tried to sell it, but it’s in a very small town, and the housing market hasn’t been the greatest in this town. I absolutely love it.
I always complain that I was one room short, okay? So, when we purchased our home in Florida, my husband purchased a house that was three thousand square feet, and I didn’t love it. It was basically a track home. It was a box—quite literally a box! A rectangle standing up, that’s it—a box. And I disliked that. But over time, I became attached to it because it went from being a house to being home. And there, I found myself not complaining about the size of the house but just the layout of the house, which is just really funky.
One of the biggest issues we had was we had a tiny, tiny dining room, and I hated it because oftentimes it was where we would gather as a family, and Thanksgiving, Christmas, holidays were just too much. You know we had to just pull out all these tables, and there was just never quite enough space. So, that was really my only complaint about this house.
When we moved to the Caribbean, we moved into a two-thousand square foot home. The problem there was that it had a great room, and it never quite worked out, okay? It was just that the great room had a lot of empty hollow space. Yes, we have the living room there. Yes, the kitchen was part of that. Yes, we had a dining room. But it was just oddly shaped. And there was this nasty echo that was always going on in this house because houses in the Caribbean are made out of concrete. So, you get this echo. You get this empty feeling every time you walk into this great room. We never quite liked it. And again, we were one room short.
My husband decided to purchase his dream house, and his dream house is a ginormous, just ginormous, monstrosity, okay? Of all the homes that we’ve owned, this is the one that I like the least. I mean, I hate this place! Absolutely hate it. It is five stories of a concrete jungle. And I’m going to be honest with you, it is positively beautiful. It is a beautiful home, but it’s five stories! It’s nine thousand square feet of concrete! I don’t like it. I never liked it. And I tried to convince him not to purchase it. I hate this house. I hate it with a passion. And frankly, out of all the houses that we’ve owned, this house has never felt like home. Were we one room short? No. No. But this home taught me a very valuable lesson: it’s not about the square footage—it’s all about the layout. It’s the layout that makes the difference.
So, when I fell, I had an accident in this home, and I fell on both knees and ended having surgery, first on one knee and then six weeks later on the other knee, I ended up spending a lot of time lying around because, frankly, it took a long time for doctors, insurance, and everything to come together. So, I had to deal with bad knees on concrete marble floors or tile with five stories. And this was not a sharp pain, but it was a dull pain that increased in intensity as the day went on. And my knees became more and more swollen too. So, I would just completely burn out, and my husband would find me upstairs taking Tylenol. I’m allergic to anti-inflammatories if you can imagine this hell! I’m allergic to anti-inflammatories, taking Tylenol because even though I could take oxycodone. I didn’t want to. First of all, it makes me dizzy, and it makes me nauseous, and second, I didn’t wanna become addicted. So, this was a real challenge.
And I found myself addicted to a show on Netflix called “Tiny Homes” or “Tiny Houses,” (frankly, any of the shows that had a tiny home in it!). And the more I watch these shows, the more I hated this monstrosity that we own in the Caribbean. I just absolutely hate it! What I realized is, the upkeep on this thing is incredible, you know, and for an older mom like me, it’s too much. I’m just going to put it out there into the universe. I’m old, and I’m okay with being old, and I’m not apologizing. I’m not feeling bad about it. This is a stage in my life. And that house with this nine thousand square feet was just a nightmare!
Just imagine, you have four very independent children, and trying to find them was miserable. I can’t tell you the number of times I walked up the five floors several times to find out the kids were outside. Or I would find one kid on one floor, another kid on another floor, and another kid on another floor! Then after my knee injury, I have to rely on others (which I hate to do because I always strive for independence) to find them. Think about it, how many times do you function as a bullhorn? You just yell at your kids, and they come. You can’t do this in this house. It’s too big, and the sound doesn’t penetrate concrete as well as it penetrates drywall. So, I really didn’t like that. The other thing that I didn’t like, which I thought I would really enjoy, was having a full-time housekeeper, okay? Here I was, two bad knees, four kids, five floors. I needed the extra help, and I was grateful for the extra help, but the privacy was gone. And I didn’t realize how much these things mattered to me until the pandemic happened.
When the pandemic happened, we realized there were not enough medical services on the island where we were living. We decided to come back to our condo in Florida, okay? Our condo in Florida is sixteen hundred square feet of heaven. I love it here! I positively love this home. Yes, it is post-surgery on my knees, but let me tell you, it turns out it helped with the pain, but long term, it makes no difference. My knees still get swollen. My knees still hurt, and I need to have a knee replacement in the next four years on my left knee, and the doctor says in about six years I need to have a knee replacement on my right knee. So, I still have knee problems. And sixteen thousand square feet is a little tight. I’m going to be honest with you; I think that with four kids, probably two thousand square feet would be ideal. But I love, love our condo. I love it. Absolutely positively love it!
It’s tiny, and the kids’ bedrooms are tiny. I’ll be honest with you, some of the bedrooms are as big as some of the closets of the house that we own in the Caribbean. And I don’t have full-time help. I have a lady that comes in every other week to do the heavy stuff. I can’t kneel anymore. It just, I can’t do it. I can’t even kneel on my bed, let alone on my nice wood floor. I can’t do it. So, she comes in, and she cleans the bathroom and does a deep clean of the condo, and that’s good enough. The rest of the time, I give the kids chores, I do the cooking, I do the majority of the laundry, and I’m in heaven. I’m in heaven. I’m in absolute heaven.
One of the things that I discovered when we came back to the condo was our family had become really disjointed in this nine thousand square foot monstrosity. No one knew what they were doing when they were doing it. I mean, it was just absolute chaos. It felt like chaos at the time, but it had become our normal chaos. And sadly, to be honest with you, oftentimes we didn’t have meals together. The kids were really active— they’re not as active right now because of the pandemic in the way they used to be there. Will they become as active? Yes, they will as soon as we can get vaccinated and things settle down.
But the first floor of the condo has become the hub, okay? We eat our meals together, we do. I can get up in the morning (most mornings), not all mornings. I make them breakfast. They are old enough to make their own breakfasts except for Bug, my little Bugaboo. He still needs help, but sometimes the girls will make him breakfast. And all of our dinners are together, and I would say about half of our lunches are together. We watch TV. We talk about politics. Yes, I have those kinds of kids that love talking politics, and they’re proud of it. We talk about the piano lesson that they are taking on Lessonface, which I highly recommend during this pandemic. Great, great instructors there. We talk about the few activities that they have, like the theater class that they take. The fact that we’ve all gotten used to wearing our masks even when we’re visiting friends outdoors.
You know, the crazy dogs, we have three Shih Tzu’s. All with their own individual personalities. The fact that they hate doing their own laundry, you know. The fact that they’re learning to cook, one of them enjoys it, and the other two don’t. All the little mundane everyday things that create and unite a family. And I love it. I love it so much I put my foot down, and I said to my husband, “You really need to put that home up for sale,” and he agreed!
He agreed for two reasons: first, he realizes how happy our family is in a smaller space, how united we’ve gone back to being. And second, because I do need a knee replacement surgery. As my doctor points out, my knees will worsen over time until I get to the point where I need a knee replacement. I need to get to the point where insurance will pay for the knee replacement as well.
And then there’s going to be one knee, the recovery period, the physical therapy. And just when that is over, I’m gonna have to deal with the other knee. So, I’m looking at six years of knee pain here. It’s too much. Five floors are just too much. I can’t handle it anymore. And the other thing is, we also came to the realization (and hit us quite hard even though we talk about it), for some reason, now we’re really feeling the fact that in four and a half years, the girls are going to be off to college. We’re going to lose three, three at the same time. I didn’t cry when they started kindergarten. I didn’t cry when they started first-grade. But I know that when the three of them go off to college, there’s going to be tears galore. Poor Bugaboo, I’m gonna be clutching him and those poor dogs.
Is it hard to transition from nine thousand square feet to sixteen hundred? It’s an adjustment. I mean, it really is. But I got to tell you: there’s so much junk that you get, the more square footage that you have in a home, you don’t really need! It’s amazing. It’s just amazing how much junk you collect. It’s amazing how much you don’t need when you move into a smaller space. And it’s amazing how much more connected, how much more love you feel, how much more conversation you have when you don’t have all of that junk. So, I guess what I have to say is that it is the one silver lining of this pandemic. The reunification of our family, the warmth that our family feels again, the connection that we feel again! And that’s something I’m never going to let go of again. I’m glad my husband had his dream home. I’m really glad, but it’s my turn to have my dream home now. It’s my turn.
So, in this dream of mine, what do I want? I want to put our home in the Caribbean for sale, and I think I want to buy another condo there. I think my thing for my husband is going to be: (cause he likes to pick our homes) one story, preferably a condo, no more than two thousand square feet. Not two thousand one, not two-fifty, two thousand or less! That’s it. We don’t need more, and I don’t want more.
I want to keep this special feeling that we’ve developed or we re-developed because we used to have it before moving into that huge home. I don’t want to let it go, especially because we are losing three of them to this great big world in four and a half years. It will come a lot faster than we realize because that’s the way it’s always been. Like most parents, it just feels like my children have grown up so fast. And I know one day soon I’m going to be sitting in front of this camera, crying, sobbing because I took them to college.
So, that’s where I am for now. If you know how lonely it can be to travel the path of an older mom, please, please share our link to our podcast, blog, or YouTube channel. We really appreciate it. Or all three if you have the time!
For links and resources, please visit our website. Till next time… Toodles….
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