Yes, women can do anything, but we do all have natural talents and aptitude for certain things. And we are all passionate about different things. And there is a difference between the sexes (yes I’ll get bashed by feminists, but considering I don’t rely on anyone for anything, they really need to re-evaluate the definition of feminism).
- Yes, YouTube videos for everything you can fix it all, but time is a scarce resource, and you only have 24 hours in a day. Spend it wisely.
- Yes, I take pride in my house, but I also take pride in many other things as well.
I have moved 3 times in the past 3 years, after living in a house for 16. I moved across state lines for career and personal reasons. I sold my house in a Chicago suburb and was relieved of never having to worry about basements, sump pumps roofs and winds that are over 20 mph. I rented a beautiful Tudor house in my favorite neighborhood in my new location. I had the first floor and basement, but it was unbearable. Horrible sound insulation, incompetent parenting and owners that made emotional, not business decisions. Nice people, but not business people. So, it was time to run fast. I felt that buying a house was the right decision. I love this area with respect to everything, scenic, walkable, many pubs and restaurants. Also, this is my American hometown. I moved here with parents from Europe and felt a connection and sense of belonging.
I knew several other women who were single and were homeowners. I can do it all….I can hire services to do things when things break. But do I really want to? Yes, so I bought a beautiful house, beautifully remodeled and was thrilled with my fenced yard (dogs), privacy and that homeowner pride. This was two years ago. I made this decision to be a house owner independent of any guy or relationship. I can do this on my own. And I did, but I learned a few things and it’s time to move on.
Sometimes I feel defeated, like I threw in the towel. Being a perfectionist, I have to achieve and excel at everything. I can’t do things half hearted. But is homeownership something I want to be an achiever in? Do I enjoy planting, painting and spending my weekends on the house? The answer for me, no not really.
The house really didn’t cause a lot of problems. It is in great shape with former owners doing a LOT of renovations. No basement floods, no fences falling down and again the house required less maintenance than my former much newer home in Illinois.
And here is where I will get the entire feminist backlash. I found that having this home was lot easier and stressful with a boyfriend, who was resourceful around the house. Yes, some men are just handier around the house than most women. Yes, it’s true, we are not created equal, we all have competitive edges, my natural talents and aptitude have nothing to do with fixing a lock. And more often than not, men are better at such things than women. Yes, it’s true.
Yes, I had a home warranty to minimize maintenance costs. There were a total of three incidents, which this home warranty covered. But hired help is not as good as someone taking a pride in the house.
Sump Pump -Had to replace a sump pump motor-this involved two visits, and my son and I critically spending an evening making sure that sump pump doesn’t overflow. The service came out, thawed out the pipe…motor worked for two days. Then, motor burnt out due to pipe freezing again. They did the minimal. Real solution: bf insulated the outside pipe during the fall in a couple of hours. He loved doing house stuff. Was an easy job and that was the real solution. Went through the entire winter – no frozen sump pump.
Lock – my house is old and retained the original character with original locks. The front door lock stopped working well so we took the side door. Locksmith said I will need to replace front door lock, thus killing the house character. Real solution: bf at time fixed the lock in 20 minutes; works fine.
Bathroom sink – I have Duravit European sink. The inspector said these sinks just drain slowly. After a few months it barely drained. I had a certified plumber come in and he did something. He said every so often this happens and I will need to call a plumber. It’s these European sinks. They just don’t drain well….sure. Real solution: bf at time fixed that – apparently there was broken glass in the drain and he cleaned it out…never a slow drain again, European or not.
There are other examples. I finally got a great magnifying mirror drilled into marble, an accordion door in the basement, and shelves in the kitchen pantry. A faucet handle broke; I just paid for the faucet. He removed some dangerous tree branches in my yard that were already loose and could have fallen on my head or the dogs in an ice storm. Minor fixes, but made a huge difference in my life. No time off from work and hundreds spent just to get partial solutions. When I was thrilled with these fixes, he would say with an accent, “I’m men, you are woman, you do other things, I take care all house things.” This may sound comical, but is it? What is wrong with me having some focus areas I’m good at and letting a man do what they are good at? Why is this anti feminist? Someone I used to know said, “this guy is a sexist to talk like that.” Why? He was clearly better at cutting tree branches with a chain saw than I would have been and he truly enjoyed it.
Why do we all have to be jack-of-all-trades and master of none? And why am I supposed to enjoy everything a man enjoys to be a woman of the new millennium? Yes, I’d rather spend an hour at Sephora checking out new lipstick colors or Nordstrom checking out the latest Chanel perfume than cutting limbs off a tree or insulating a sump pump. It reduces my stress to do such ‘mindless’ things. Yes, “typical gender roles”-no it’s not gender roles…it’s me, it’s what I like. Can we have some diversity in our population of how we like to spend our time? I am completely independent financially and never ask for help-isn’t that more of a feminist concept than cutting tree limbs or fixing an old lock? But this person who had issues with me succumbing to ‘gender roles’ said “you are falling into gender roles, you should do it all.’ Easy for this individual to say since she was not a homeowner and had a boyfriend to help her in other aspects of her life and a male friend for some other things. I have never used friends for free airplane tickets, lodging, etc. It was tempting to stay in this relationship, or maybe turn it down a few notches, but integrity is not a practical trait and didn’t want to ‘use him’. So I decided to break up with him (for other reasons) in spite of all these ‘home stuff’ benefits. I could have kept it going and maybe meet once a month to get ‘house stuff’ done; perfect long distance relationship. But again, integrity dictated otherwise. I learned a lot, adjusted and moved forward.
Now back to the stereotypes, why couldn’t I figure out all this on my own? My competitive edge is not home repair. Yes, I can learn. I watched 10 YouTube videos in my Illinois house to fix my washing machine lid cheap (just parts). I excel in many areas, but not that one and don’t aspire to. Hired help just didn’t do it right. But, NO, relationship choices should not be influenced by someone’s home maintenance skills. And if someone labels me as adhering to gender roles because I let a man fix things because he was good at it, then they need to reevaluate their own choices. Although my father had a master’s degree in engineering and had the aptitude for seeing mechanical problems, his passion was not to fix ‘house stuff” (and my mother did “woman things” as smart as she was, not home repairs). Was he bad husband because of that? No, in my opinion, one of the best husbands and fathers. Yes, he set the bar high, but that’s another blog. Of course, some would argue that my parents created all this because I fall into these gender roles. Please….I’m independent in every way…read the original concepts of feminism.
So this summer I thought about all this. How my life was so much easier as a homeowner with a guy doing “man stuff.” Should relationship choices be made on a man’s handy man skills? And if they do, aren’t there other things to do with your free time? My house became much better and I was less stressed. Do I really want to keep this house and now deal with all the stuff, unknown around it? I thought: I like the life of decadence, so maybe I just need to find a decadent place with good views, luxurious amenities, and great location and better sound insulation than before, and move on. Sunk costs are sunk costs. Late this summer such a place became available, so I listed my house. That transaction is going to be another blog entry because I managed to have the WORST home selling experience and I am in the process of switching agents and agency. I have sold many homes and this listing turned into a farce at my expense. So, now I have two homes. The stress is still high, but hopefully will resolve soon. But I know I made the right decision:
I will take that homeowner pride in other aspects of my life – my career, my activities and launching new businesses.
I will not have to assess a man’s handy man skills during a relationship- I don’t care. And even with such skills, there are more interesting things to do with limited free time than home improvement projects.
Do I miss my fenced wooded backyard? Not right now, I’m getting some great views being on a high floor and walking them in the neighborhood is more stimulating to them and it gets me off the sofa and helps stress. I also love my heated garage that I get to park my cars in. Not worrying about snow (except for having to drive in it) and sump pumps (I really hate basements) is a relief. Will I hate walking my dogs in sub zero temperatures? No, I have my Russian hats for all that.
So my journey continues. Will I ever buy a house again? James Bond (yes, I like Bond movies and James Bond, and I’m a successful independent woman) said, “never say never”….but not now.
Sure, single women are doing it all. But most of them have family (fathers, brothers or handy bfs) or just great male friends who live close by and who can help them keep up their house. And a few actually have a passion for home repair. Shakespeare said, “To thyself be true.” So gender roles or not…I am not going to be Tim Allen.
So for now, I’m enjoying the views and some luxury without worrying and I’ll take my pride from other activities and achievements in life.
UDATE 10/22 – and as I said never say never. In 2021 I did end up purchasing a house because I realized, for now, that multiple dwellings were not for me. Is a house a lot of work? Yes, but the benefits it brings outweigh the realities of apartment life. What I didn’t like about apartment life:
- lack of privacy – while I had a beautiful terrace / rooftop style place for solitude, there were other considerations that made for a lack of privacy:
- noise from neighbors – the first place I moved to was living hell. “Luxury living” with luxury prices but without the luxury. Upstairs neighbors were annoying and inconsiderate and horrible. It was a constant battle which allowed me to break my lease. Lesson learned, moved to a top floor in a much better construction and better management.
- hallways and things – there is just this forced politeness or lack of in hallways and mailrooms.
- Being at the mercy of the management – this can vary and is unstable. The second place was fairly well managed. I got along great with the property manager; she was awesome, but then she left. Gradual downhill after that. My parking situation became a nightmare after that and I left.
- the pandemic also shifted my views – again, being at the mercy of management. Hopefully we will never have another quarantine lock down again. But my choices for entertaining and seeing people were very limited. But if I had a house then, a firepit, or heat lamp in the backyard would have enabled these situations.
So, for now – back to homeownership. Is it perfect, no. But it was part of my journey to learn that nothing is perfect. Life is full of tradeoffs, and you chose what inconveniences you put up with in all aspects, including your living situation.