I recently returned to this space after nearly a year, and I can't believe how different my life looks now. Well, on the outside I guess my life looks pretty much the same: work, kids, pets, craziness. But my life feels so much different now.
The biggest change in my life has been that we moved. Not out of the country, or even out of state, or even an hour from where we used to live. But we finally managed to buy our own house (not our first time, but our first time in a long time) and move out of the cramped space we had been in. I honestly didn't realize just how much stress our old living situation was causing us until we were out of it. It has not even been 3 months, but it feels like a lifetime ago. No, we weren't living with family or even in some tiny apartment, but for a family of 6 with as many pets as kids, it was just too small. We were on top of each other; we had no real yard. Playgrounds were close but we were more city than rural, so it wasn't completely safe to send kids out walking. We had some great neighbors, and some not-so-great ones. And we had a less-than-on-the-up-and-up landlord, who didn't bother us, but didn't go out of his way to fix anything either.
When we first really decided we had to move, it was right after we brought baby #4 home from the hospital. After 8 years of IF and loss, we finally had our 4th take-home baby. And something just clicked that we needed to change our living situation. We worked really hard on getting finances and credit in order. I reached out to an old friend I knew when we waited tables together nearly 2 decades ago, whom I knew was a realtor. She turned out to be our saving grace in all of this, because she is so smart and kind and patient...and smart. She helped us narrow down the type of financing that best suited us, which in turn helped us figure out where we were going to move, and spent months sending us listings and answering questions about properties, which helped us really narrow down what we were looking for in a house.
It took about 15 months of hard work and a lot of stress before we finally got the go-ahead with our financing. My friend and her team of finance people suggested we get all of our firm approvals for the loan first, then go find a home. So we didn't actually walk into any houses until we knew that our financing was 100% secure. In that, there were several ups and downs, and more stress...because in between all of that we found out we were expecting another baby, and the need to move grew exponetially. But because we had done so much legwork, we knew exactly what we needed in a home (the size, space, and it needed to be move-in ready, with a good size yard and not on top of another home.) We found the perfect home for us, and my friend made sure the contract and sale went through with no major issues or negotiations. It was the least stress-free thing we dealt with in a year and a half.
We may have been exhausted and surrounded by more boxes than I care to remember, but that first night in our home was the most stress-free night I have had in a long time. Just finally having a home that was a reprieve from everything else, not the source of a lot of stress. And the security of actually owning this house, instead of being under someone's thumb...I finally feel like I can breathe.
The kids are happy...we may be in a more rural area, but it's far from the boonies. There is a ton of space in our own yard and we share a fence with a neighbor, but you really don't know they are there unless you look for them. The kids can be out past dark, playing on the playgrounds and fields across the street and it is safe. I have a major drive-through pharmacy, grocery stores, major hardware store, big-box retailer, department store, and chain restaurant around the corner less than 5 minutes from my driveway. And even more a minute or two further. I wasn't even this close to things when I lived close to the city. It took 20 minutes to get to the closest department store. But it doesn't feel the same living where I do now...it is definitely not as congested and everyone is friendly. The stores are nicer. It sure doesn't seem like so much should be so close and accessible.
The environment in my house is more calm too. Everyone is happier, has more of their own space, and there is somewhere to go if someone is getting on your nerves. Oh, it is still a zoo, don't get me wrong. There is still the general chaos of managing a large household. And it's noisy. But is more peaceful overall. I am more peaceful. I finally feel like I have everything I could ever want. Bonus Baby will be here in less than 12 weeks, and I am so glad we get to bring him or her home here.
disclaimer: Just for the record, we did not buy a castle or a mc-mansion, and not all of my kids can have their own room. (Well, they could if we used extra rooms on different levels.) But it feels like a castle to us.