Housed

Life isn't a straight road.

I don't know why I thought it should be—I'll blame my parents with their baby-boomer career-marriage-house-children white picket fence life example. Not that it suited either of them particularly, but that's a different story.

I did set out to follow that playbook, but it went quickly sideways. First with having my kids far too early (from the playbook's perspective, anyway), later with a combo of my own mental health and my husband's physical health issues that made us both end promising careers in Alberta and run home with tails between our legs.

Since then, it's been a process. First, of survival. Learning to trust myself again. Resiliency has never been my strong suit—I much preferred blazing excellence, and when I fell short of that, I had no coping skills. When I started working at Fabricland (almost five years ago), it was my first non-academic job, and I was terrified that I wasn't even capable of entry level retail work.

It turned out I was, though. Thank goodness.

It took a long time to rebuild that confidence in myself. Not to mention that minimum wage retail work doesn't exactly pay the bills when you're suddenly the sole breadwinner. It was hard to go back to grinding poverty from what had been almost a middle-class lifestyle. Hard to work two jobs when the two combined don't even earn you enough to make ends meet. Hard to learn how to be the person who works two jobs, and how to maintain any sanity. For a long time, years, I couldn't look beyond the day, maybe the next pay period. All those plans for our future were just gone.

But I did cope and I did survive, and I did start to trust in my own ability again. And I've worked. As hard as I did at grad school, as hard as being home with a small baby. Harder than I knew I could—which is how it works, I guess. Last fall I got an opportunity at my day job for a new position which has let me use a lot more of my grad-school (and artistic) skills than my first position, and that has been exciting.

I'm starting to see a future. It's beginning to feel like a career—maybe not as lucrative as a professorial job, but something I can build on.

What comes next has nothing to do with my own abilities, talent, or resiliency, though. One of the biggest resources that has helped us through rough times over the years has been family. This spring, my father decided to help us get a house.

It's the last thing on that checklist, that playbook, that road to a Normal North American Life (TM). I'm not sure why, after all these years, I'm still trying to follow it—but I do know that I wanted this badly.

I want to be able to create my own space, feel ownership for it, and to be able to work to improve it. I'm willing to take on the extra responsibility to have that freedom, even that pride. And I'm so insanely grateful to my father for making this possible, because with all the other side-steps and swerves in my life, I couldn't have done it on my own. Thank you, Dad.

Thank you.
Now if I can just find my sewing machine…

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55 Comments

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55 responses to “Housed

  1. Oh, what a wonderful Dad you have! Congratulations on the house and the career improvement! Life often forces us to face our weaknesses in order to build our strengths. You are capable of so much more than you think you are! =)

  2. gilliancrafts

    What a lovely post! Everyone has to find their own path, and I”m glad yours is smoothing out. I’m so excited for you and your family to have a home to call your own!

  3. H Mayfield

    What a fantastic post of optimism and positivity despite the odds. Great that your own incredible hard work and your father’s generosity means you have your own house. It is such a great feeling. Onwards and Upwards!

  4. Jess

    Great to read. Thank you and congratulations.

  5. racurac2

    Thanks for sharing! My DD is also battling with mental disease and the fact that it is very hard to keep her jobs. Your father is very generous for helping you to reach your dreams, I hope we can help our daughter too. Keep growing professionally and have a wonderful life in your new home!

  6. Congrats on the new home! How wonderful that your dad was generous enough to make it a reality for you and your family. I totally understand the situation of life’s paths not working out the way you thought it would. Hopefully things smooth out–wishing you all the best!

  7. Sox

    Congratulations! Having a supportive family is such a gift. And living in a place that you can say is My Home can do wonders for your well being. Success to you; you are a strong woman!

  8. ceci

    Look at all those great windows in the front room – what a neat looking house! Congratulations and best wishes for the unpacking.

    ceci

  9. Congratulations on your new home.. and go your Dad for helping out. I love my house and what it means. It’s small, paint is peeling (has been for years), it’s basic and nearly everything I have is old or 2nd hand (bar some sewing machines!) but no matter what happens, this block of dirt is mine. Other than a supportive family and health t’s the greatest thing you can have ..a sanctuary of your very own. I do not however envy your unpacking!

  10. Congratulations
    When you have “making” in your blood, you always have that in your future!

  11. Awesome post!! I did not know about your and your husband’s health challenges – how amazingly resilient you both have been (and your kiddies too!). And I don’t think you ran home with your tail between your legs?!?! You were strategic and intelligent and you realized that being in your community was going to help you get from where you were to where you are now. I wish you nothing but wonderful, happy house experiences for many, many years. And your new place is utterly adorable! Love the enclosed porch. Also, further to our Insta convo, I see how it is close to the neighbours on one side but, seriously, in TO (in affordable ‘hoods) every house is that close to the next (if not flat out attached) 🙂

    • Thank you! I’ll happily call it “strategic.” At the time it just felt like the only option that didn’t make me want to kill myself. 😭 Things here are not quite as congested as TO… not quite. 😉

  12. Congratulations on meeting all your challenges head on and finally feeling that your life is getting back on track. You have a beautiful home and a wonderful fahther. Well done to the both of you.

  13. Vancouver Barbara

    A story that ends so well. Brava Bravo. Your house looks wonderful.

  14. faye177

    Congratulations!

  15. I’m one of those feedly readers that never actually come to the blogs I’ve been reading for years to comment. But today I just had to. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and inspirational post! Congratulations on your new home!!

    • Thank you so much for the comment! I don’t know if it’s inspiring, but I am very great full for both the opportunities I’ve been given and the support I have.

  16. lloubb

    Congrats to you and your family. 🙂

  17. Good on you, for making it all work. I remember my high school geography teacher telling us that the oldest rivers were those that meandered and curved, rather than hurtling straight down to the ocean. So maybe, if we want to be around for the long term, we need to meander a bit.

    It sounds like you are both resilient and versatile. I left engineering over 10 years ago, when my kids were struggling with school, and since then I have had a go at tutoring, costume making, admin and fabric retail. This year I have returned to engineering part time. The pay is better, but I am struggling to keep a grasp on my mental health. It looks like you are still connected to the people you love, which I think is the greatest success of all.

    Enjoy your new home, and making it your own.

    • It sucks when mental health maintenance seems to be at odds with the other necessities of life! Although it sounds like you’ve had an interesting career path, at least. Good luck!

  18. Congratulations on your cute new home! Home ownership is going to be both a blessing and a curse, not gonna lie, but I think it’s worth it. Just don’t try to do everything at once–curtains and all that other “fluff” can wait until next year while you save up some cash, figure out what needs done first, and what can wait. Every home has a surprise, and you don’t want to be caught empty handed when yours shows itself. 😉

    P.S. Your dad is awesome! 🙂

  19. All the love and hugs for you! Thank you for sharing a little bit about your journey and the struggles you’ve had to overcome. I know “this all happened for a reason” is a terrible awful cliched statement that doesn’t help anyone, but I would like to offer that what you’ve shared about parenting your girls has been hugely inspiring and helpful for me as a young parent. I hope this house is a thing of beauty and joy for you, and what a wonderful dad you have for making it possible!

    • Aww, thank you so much, and I’m so glad I was able to help you in some tiny way. Parenting is still the accomplishment I’m most proud of—and the most difficult one! 😭

  20. Congratulations on the house! And best wishes to you, your family, and your wonderful Dad!

  21. This is such a lovely post, thank you for sharing with us. And deepest congratulations on getting your own place.

  22. Martha

    Congratulations and so many best wishes!
    Things are not always what they seem. We are boomers who appear to have had a straight road, but one of many subsurface variants is that sadly, despite DH being very smart and very very hard working, once we had kids, we ultimately could not have had the *NNAL* without an early, unexpected inheritance. We did much of it “ourselves”, but we weren’t without our village.
    So I consider the road to include gifts, from happy sources or otherwise, and I wish to help others, if only because I remember what financial help meant to me. Gracious acceptance, too, can be part of being resilient.

  23. LinB

    Oh, I am so happy for you and your family! Kudos to you for letting your father help you … lots of folk would be too proud to accept the help. Enjoy this time of settling in and unpacking. Remember to let the house tell you how it wants you to live in it.

  24. Wis

    Great post! Thanks for sharing. I wish you and your family a happy life in your beautiful house.

  25. From one crooked roader to another: Congratulations! On everything ❤

  26. I can see it right there in the middle of the last picture! But maybe that’s not the right one… and maybe you’ll need some elbow room….
    I will never forget a truly beautiful post you wrote years? ago (my favorite- one of many) about the winter solstice. From that, maybe indirectly, I have held an image of something beloved, maybe an old friend, eventually turning around and walking back toward me again. Every piece of luck or good news, or deep love, or season of generosity or of scarcity is on its own mysterious cycle. Sometimes all we can do is wait and pay attention and celebrate its turning. Congratulations and blessings and Welcome Home! enjoy it!

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