Homes are for Free Expression, not Good Impressions.

6:35 AM


I've been struggling with our apartment again.

No joke.

It's hard to feel at home in it. I don't know if it's because it's so small or if it's because many of my possessions are in storage in Clark's grandparent's attic. I'm not sure if it's because I don't know many people here or if it's because I'm homesick for Boone/Banner Elk.

I'm just not sure.

Whatever it is, it's been making me a bit cranky. When my mom was here I got motivated to keep the house clean. I was motivated to organize everything more. I was determined to make the best of our little home.

Now... not so much.

I just feel crowded. The more involved Clark gets with school and climbing, the more of a mess there is. Without him having his own space, it's impossible to convince him that the living room is not his space to spread his gear out to let it dry. It's impossible to get him to keep his school stuff from crowding our "dining area". It's impossible to keep him from throwing his wallet, keys, sunglasses, knife and so forth on my bookshelf right by the door. It's impossible to keep him from using the baby's changing pad/dresser as storage space for his belt and pants when he changes into his pajamas.

He is impossible.

Now, I have to take some blame, too. It's impossible for me not to think of the coffee table as my desk, since the desk Clark made me as my graduation present is currently the only one in our apartment. It's impossible for me to keep my makeup and hair stuff put away in our bathroom. It's impossible for me to not leave things lying around for most of the day before putting them away. It's impossible for me to keep my stuff organized in our closet.

I am impossible.

I used to keep our apartments clean. In our last home it was OK if things got a little out of hand. There was so much space. We had two rooms upstairs, each with a bathroom. We had a large kitchen and living room downstairs with a half bathroom. Our washer and dryer were in a closet near the front door, completely inconspicuous and out of the way.

Now we have one bedroom and you have to go through it to get to the bathroom. Our washer and dryer take up half of our one bedroom closet. The closet in our living room doesn't even have doors. Our kitchen is a closet pretty much. You can't distinguish one area from the other, really. It all runs together.

We were desperate to move. We were temporarily staying with my in-laws and we were ready to go. We needed our own home. Somewhere to call our own and to set up house.

I take the blame.

We had a code word. If I said the apartment was "cute" then it was OK and we could make the deal.

I spoke too quickly.

I was so ready to be out of my in-laws way. Not to mention we had to move because Clark got a job. The apartment was cheap and the landlord seemed genuine and caring. I said the word. We moved.

Oh how wrong I was.

We can never get in touch with our landlord. There are so many things that need to be repaired and none of it has been done. With Michael here, there just seems to be no space. If I need a breather, I have to go in the bathroom and shut the door or go outside. Our cat chases our dog from one end of the apartment to the other... over and over again (when he's feeling well, that is). It's impossible for anyone to have ANY privacy.

I feel like I have cabin fever 24/7.

I keep talking myself down. Telling myself there are others who are in worse circumstances. There are others who live in an apartment this size with two or more kids. People who live in boxes on street corners. People who sleep on benches.

Unfortunately I'm stubborn. I don't even listen to myself when half of me is making more sense than the other half.

I'm sorry I'm whining.

"Homes are for free expression, not good impressions."

This quote comes from the remake of Yours, Mine, & Ours.

I used to not agree.

I would walk into people's disastrous homes with art that didn't match and things that just didn't make sense and inwardly turn up my nose. I want a clean-cut home with flowers on the table, shoes all in a row (where they belong), and not a trace of messiness.

Basically a home that doesn't look like it's lived in, except with family pictures so people know that it is, in fact, a home.

I grew up in a house where beds were made every morning, the bathroom was clean/organized, closets were not places to stuff what you didn't feel like putting away, and your shoes were always put away (or else). At the time I didn't appreciate it. Now? I wish I could hire my parents to come and make my home spotless for me.

It feels impossible with where we're living now.

I'm trying to balance. Trying to understand that we won't always live in this apartment. Trying to just be a little less stressed and go with the flow. Think that other people can think what they want when/if they come over. Think that my home is my home because it's where my family is. Think that things can't get any worse.

My home is an expression of my husband's constant coming and going, my job that is taking care of my son, my ten week old who is already growing too quickly, and my animals that are probably suffering from cabin fever like we are.

Some day I'll have a home that can be for free expression and good impressions. But for now I suppose I'll just have to go with the flow and do what I can when I can.

Is your home a free expression or good impression?

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  1. Emily-
    We are currently house sitting for my grandparents. After Danny and I got married, my grandparents took the house off the market - to give us a break from having a "show ready" house. Thank God they did, because while I was pregnant and laid out with hyperemesis, the house was an embarrassing mess. Hardwood floors and long-haired cats equals constant fluffy floors. With Danny's job he worked close to 60hrs a week last school year, and when he got home he would either have more work to do, or he would take care of me. My mom ended up hiring Merry Maids for a few months to clean the house. Very humbling experience, watching strangers scrub and sweep my family's mess, and for it to be paid for by my parents. True blessing though :)

    My grandparents put the house back on the market the week after Lorelei was born. New baby and "show ready" house is a full time job. There's talk of an offer on the house soon, and once it's bought, my family and I have 60 days to move out. We've found a one bedroom one bath apartment we can afford, the majority of our furniture will be stored with my parent's in NC.

    Three cats and three people in 480sq ft. Sigh.

    Danny and I do baskets and jars to save us from our cluttery selves. We both are deciduous, emptying our pockets and bags as we move through rooms...keys, cellphones, mail, wrappers everywhere. So I have hooks by the door (for jackets, purses, keys, etc) and baskets in every room for everything else. I try to go through the baskets every few days to put things away and make sure we don't miss anything essential. Baskets are great because they are decorative and sturdy :) Jackets still end up on couches and chairs, keys not always in baskets, but we're getting better.

    Another trick I have for maintaining moderate sanity is to put 22 things away during the day. I started this at age 21, putting 21 items in their proper place, and will increase the number of things as I age. If I can get Danny to do this too, we'd be set... he's five years older than me.

    Know that you aren't alone in the fight against small spaces and big clutter. With love, Cheryl.