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Dear House, This Is As Good As You're Ever Going to Get

Dear House, After 18 years of living in you, you are finally all I have ever hoped you could be. Every space is functional. Every cabinet is organized (really!). The books are color-coded and arranged by topic. There is art on every wall and a cushion on every chair (even the outdoor chairs). All of your rooms have their own pair of scissors. The toothbrushes now fit inside the medicine cabinet. My bedroom has curtains. In the bathrooms, the cleaning products and hand soap are all in coordinating scents, with labels that match the towels. The flowers in the vases aren't half-dead.

And it only took a pandemic to make it happen.

Listen, little House, you know I've been a Real Simple subscriber for twenty years, reading all their tricks and tips religiously. I'm a sucker for home makeover shoes. I follow The Nester on Instagram. So I've had good intentions forever. But I never helped you be all streamlined and ready-for-your-close-up until 2020-2021. And the only reason I could do that is because I had nothing freaking else to do. Some of my readers hate me right now, because their homes might be in WORSE shape than ever. They had small children at home and had to constantly supervise their online education. They were working from home and made makeshift home offices in places no home office should ever be (Garage? Downstairs powder room?).

But you know that the two teenage daughters who shut themselves up in their east-facing rooms took to online learning like the tech generation they are. And most of their usual sports, social, and church activities were off-limits. So they stayed in their spaces, and instead of driving them around the county every day, I just nurtured you. So though I didn't do nothing really, this wasn't a fabulous year to be an event speaker. Or an extrovert. So you became the center of my universe. And we had a pretty good time together. So here are some lessons I learned from our tight-knit relationship this year, little House.

1. Having a small house is a real blessing, and you are a VERY SMALL house with no garage. But your tininess makes you manageable. You kept us out of debt (you know, besides our mortgage debt). You are were less expensive to furnish and decorate. I made some small, cheap, creative changes, and now you function like a champ. Having created some good systems, I think I'll be able to keep them going for a while and you and I will get along much better. 2. Making the bed every morning and cleaning the kitchen every night. MUST DOs if at all possible. These small things really made me love you more and curse you less. 3. Making you the perfect house in a non-pandemic year was just not possible and I'll never believe it is possible again. This is very, very important for you to understand, little House. I know what it took to get you this way, and I'll probably never have that kind of time again. God willing. 4. Finally, having a good life is more important than having a camera-ready house. In just two weeks of somewhat normal life, you are much dirtier already. All your floors need to be mopped. Lots of laundry is stacked in the hallway. But I will trade your shining neatness any day for in-person Bible study teaching, mini-golf, pool time, starting a new editing project, beach days, and going to graduation parties. You'll always be important to us, House. You are our home after all. But -- thank God -- you are no longer the center of our universe.

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