House Elf, no more

My house is ‘home’ to both my adult daughters, a son-in-law and my grandson as well as two cats and two small dogs. It’s a four-bedroom cape with a half-finished basement that is the “family room/play room”. I’ve been here for almost twenty years and it has been financial and physical torture trying to either do work myself or being f*cked in the ass hiring “professionals” who take the money and do slip-shod work or bail altogether. I got to the point of giving up and hoping the place would fall down around me or go up in flames. When my daughter and her family moved in (with the ‘plan’ to rent and then buy) they wanted insisted certain renovations and work be done before-hand. I complied. I paid for the finished work in the basement, updated all electrical- adding new lighting, switches and outlets, all new windows and painted all the rooms in the house except mine and one bathroom *this in conjunction with other monetary gifts the kind that many parents give their children to ‘help out’, depleted my entire savings. They, in turn, were suppose to help me with property necessities: outdoor work, seasonal work, indoor/outdoor repairs – which I would either pay for or we’d halve the expense depending on who wanted what. I did/don’t mind paying for such things as long as there is cooperation from them so it didn’t/doesn’t all fall on my shoulders. As much as I wanted to sell the property and for as long as I’d been looking forward to be out from under the burden, I was actually happy to share the house and therefore the responsibilities that go with it. There are other additional benefits to sharing; someone is almost always home, someone can take care of the pets when others are not home, I’m available to babysit spontaneously without having to drive or make arrangements and there companionship if wanted or enough space for solitude.

I thought that things were going well. Throughout the first year we talked about possible options for making the ‘necessary’ (structural) renovations that had to be done in order for the house to be what they needed if they were to buy it *this was to be done when my son-in-law was finished with school and in a position to buy, about 3-4 years. We went over various ideas for maximum change with minimum $$. I soon realized – and I guess my glow over the family unit arrangement clouded my perceptions for a while – that they were not at all satisfied with the existing house and, to use my daughter’s words, it needed to be bulldozed and just start from scratch. I, having worked sometimes two jobs as a single mother of three for all my adult life, was starting to look forward to being unburdened. These two young adults were increasingly unhappy with the house (my daughter is an avid HGTV watcher) and this was starting to look suspiciously like I was going to get myself into a huge debt that they would – probably, based on my daughter’s increasing dissatisfaction, – then decide they no longer wanted to buy. I had no guarantee that in three or four years time they would still want to buy my house and, if they did, would I recoup the cost for the changes that they had wanted? I began having my doubts and so I suggested that we make some small DIY improvements around the house (because my daughter claimed she was too embarrassed to ever want to have anyone come to the house) and when they purchased it – if I was going to have an in-law space – we could renovate then.

In retrospect I now realize that this was the genesis of the freeze-out that has been going on. I am pretty independent and go about my life without interfering in theirs; I have all my worldly possessions in my bedroom with the exception of some tools and big items like a kayak so am out of their space most of the time but I like to let them know when I am headed out somewhere, such as the store and if anyone needs anything, or if I’m going to be gone for the day, etc. I make myself available if they need me for anything. It’s taken awhile – about a year – for me to realize that they have been harboring resentment because I wouldn’t make the house what they wanted. They are also spiteful in small ways; they do no cleaning – at all, the kitchen table is piled with whatever someone wants to leave on it, the bathroom is not cleaned nor are dishes with any regularity, the three-season porch, which is the main access to the house, is constantly cluttered with cast-offs and such and in complete disarray and the yard is a minefield of toys and clutter, the cellar is almost impassible to the W/D and the garage and extra storage room look like something from a hoarder show. I have patiently asked about cleaning up or getting rid of some things (that is obviously not used, broken or unwanted) and have on occasion just done it myself. I’d become defeated and was just going to hang on until they moved – which now would be about one year.

My son came home just before Christmas for a few weeks and I unburdened myself (some) about my feelings. He took the initiative and cleaned out the cellar, garage, storage room, porch, kitchen and living room. It’s all organized and clean. My son has motivated me to make repairs and do things around the house that I have been wanting, nay had bought tools and supplies and planned, to do but my efforts had been undermined by the two adults. During my son’s and my own efforts, my daughter made some small acknowledgments but makes a point of not following through with keeping the spaces clean; i.e. she tosses her coat repeatedly on the table/chairs instead of hanging it up (my son repeatedly hangs it up every time), she leaves her boots right at the door to the house instead of on the boot-mat where my son, repeatedly, replaces them, etc. Her single-minded determination to remain disrespectful and unappreciative is appalling. My son said he has no idea where she gets off being an “entitled bitch”.

I couldn’t sleep last night. I have been planning on doing the AT in the spring but having gone through and done all this work around the house, I don’t dare leave it in the hands of these two adults only to return home and have to clean and repair all over again. Fortunately it is my choice to thru-hike the AT and I may not do it this spring. I might decided to start in Maine in June and go south.

I am thinking of doing as much work as I can and, come mid-or-end of February, decide to either hike ~or sell my house (hopefully by mid summer) and then hike. Right now…it’s all up in the air. And I tell myself that “it’s okay”, I will make a decision based on how I feel at the time and deal with it then.

My son told me today that he is leaving for Maine tomorrow. I felt like crying a little. I feel that I am ‘defenseless’ emotionally speaking when I am here and it’s three-to-one but I am very capable I know. I am resolved to be strong and remind myself that this is my house and I’ve been generous to let them live here (because they cannot afford rent anywhere else) but they are going to respond and appreciate this gesture or I will have to tell them to start looking for another place to live. I am not sure that they will be able to find something that meets their high standards with their low income but maybe that’s what it will take to appreciate what I have done for them.

Daily Prompt: Capable

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