We were chatting with some friends before church last week, when they asked us how our summer was going. My answer was that this is a summer of transitions for us.
In previous summers, one of the kids might be making the transition to junior high or high school, but I had a sense of security knowing that nothing in our lives would dramatically change in the time between June and August.
But this year, the dynamics in our house will be very different by the time we get to the end of the summer. Valerie will be away at college, adjusting to dorm life and we’ll be adjusting to life without her. Gulp.
Once Valerie goes away to college, two of the three kids will be out of the house – at least for the foreseeable future. So at the same time that we have been anticipating her leaving, we have also been planning another major transition: selling our house.
We are grateful that in spite of the toll the recession has taken on our business that we still have a house; many people don’t. But downsizing to a smaller place with less upkeep, less overhead and less debt hanging over our head sounds really good to us.
Since I started working full time outside the home, the maintenance and yard work hangs over my head. It would be great if I found it recreational, but gardening, and yard work in general, is number 11 on my top 10 list of favorite activities. I think about the change of seasons in the context of the amount of yard work that I’m going to have to do. In spring, rather than appreciating the emerging buds and leaves, what comes to mind is, “Oh darn, it’s spring, that means weekends of weed pulling.” I look forward to the dark, rainy days in January because there’s no yard work that I should be doing. Now my idea of a yard is two flower pots on a concrete slab.
So in our eagerness to be free of the burden of the house, we decided that we would put our house on the market by September 1. That certainly makes sense from a real estate point of view; we can take advantage of activity in the market before everyone’s attention turns from house-hunting to the celebrating the holidays.
But does it make sense for us as a family? Putting the house on the market one week after Valerie moves out and before we have had any time for us and her younger sister to adjust seems like we’re moving forward too fast. Perhaps what was really motivating us to get our house on the market so fast was that the sooner we were out of this house, the less we would have to walk past Valerie’s tidy, but empty room and be reminded of how much we miss her.
Selling a house that you’ve lived in for 15 years and the only house that Jennifer and Valerie have ever known is a pretty big deal. We can still move ahead with the preparations we need to take to get the house ready to put on the market. But we have come to realize that we will all be better off if we slow the process down a little and take one major transition at a time.