Whose House is it…?

After being back for three weeks I am beginning to breathe better.  The amount of dust I’ve had to tame with a wet cloth was enough to create our own McNeny dust-bowl right here in the comfort of our home.

Now the sun can sparkle on the freshly polished surfaces and dance across the newly shined mirrors, if it can make its way through the filmy windows that have slipped under my cleaning radar.

It took being away for an extended period of time to appreciate how much work we obviously did to keep up appearances.  A year of unconscious neglect has made us both realise we are pretty good stewards of our property.

To give them credit, the boys thought they were too, in their own ways!

Obviously the lessons on housekeeping ranging from daily to bi-annual were interpreted creatively to fit their single lifestyles.  The yard suffered too, aided by the good old Texas weather and a mistake in lawn fertilizer, the grass died and mowing was laid off; the pool grew a fine layer of algae when the sweep packed up and left, and the vegetables, planted enthusiastically by my outdoor son who enjoys fresh produce, wilted when life happened away from the hose pipe.

Being a householder is a full time job on top of the full time job…not a lot else can be done once a commitment has been made to the responsibility of a house with garden…but then again, there are deeper levels of commitment that come after having children and adding pets.  One’s personal life takes off in a different direction from the self centred course it’s been running.

Hubs and I rolled up our sleeves and despite severe allergic reactions to the air we used to breathe and thrive on we have managed about half the house and hired a good yard crew to clean up outside.  A domestic service has been booked once the house is presentable enough for me to allow the maids in.

The boys, who kept reminding us that they had lived here for 13 months on their own and done a pretty good job, were feeling the pangs of withdrawal and the sting of ungratefulness for their faithful sojourn.  Naively they asked whose house it was and for a moment there I was tempted to keep it in the category of “family home.”   After all they had lived rent free for a year in return for ensuring the property didn’t burn down, which it didn’t, and a sense of ownership had prevailed for a season.

“But,” hubs reminded me, “they are gainfully employed, voting members of society who pay their own insurance and taxes so we should no longer consider ourselves a source of income for them.”

They need to cede the place back to us no matter how rooted and entitled they feel.

“Being a squatter is inherent!”  I said remembering the problems owners have in England when they leave their homes empty risking a lawful takeover by homeless folk.

The sons were miffed that we wanted to, and did, move everything back to the way it was.  We had been preparing for our return for months, they, it appeared, had been hoping that we would change our minds or, on our return, allow them to carry on regardless while we blended.

Malia had said when I turned to her for advice,

“Difficult as it is to meet your high standards Mum, they could have at least made an effort to hand back your house the way you left it, a little dusty perhaps but intact…”

Bolstered by her words we felt we had to establish our position and regain ownership to clear the air, difficult as it was to see the disappointment in their eyes as they tried to maintain their foothold,

“We’ve been here over a year now and have grown used to things our way.”

“”You promised us nothing would change.”

“We liked the way we had the furniture.”

“We’ve managed things really well while you were gone.”

My protests about liberties and privilege fell on deaf ears.

A large elephant lumbered into the room.  I asked,

“Whose house is it?”

They wanted to say it was theirs because when they were young it was, but my next question put it all into perspective.

“Are you our dependents?”

“No!”  Plopped out of their mouths and rolled after the retreating elephant.

“So, whose house is it?”  I asked with a smile.

“You’all’s,” they agreed.

We lived in harmony for another three weeks enjoying meals and conversations and not encroaching too much on their privacy.  We continued with our reconstruction of the family home while they worked and played.

Yesterday they moved out.

Well, at least partially.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property who will give you property of your own?” (Luke 16: 10-12)

Furniture is on the move again, some lessons have been learned and I can spread my wings once more in my empty nest, at least  downstairs.


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