There’s a peculiar type of grief that comes with renovating a home and it has brought up a whole lot of feelings I was NOT expecting. People keep saying to me “how exciting, you must be so happy” but if I am honest, it’s almost the opposite and I really don’t know how to wrap my head around it. We have been planning this reno for years, I have so many pinterest boards filled with fabulous home reno ideas, I have spent countless hours researching finishes and lighting and tapware and flooring. I have daydreamed about where I will put my linen, how the sun will shine through the new windows and how I will have a party in my new house to celebrate when it’s all done. So why do I feel like crying? Why when everything I have been hoping for is finally happening, do I just want it all to stop and go back to the way it was?
The answers came when I was packing up a box of photos and I saw a photo of me with my sons when they were babies. We built this house 13 years ago when I was pregnant with my second son. This is the only home they remember. So now as they pull down the walls and rip up the floors, I am achingly reminded that these floors are where my son learned to crawl and walk, these walls carry the scars of raising two little boys who are not so little anymore. How has that time gone already! It’s such a cliché to say that it feels like yesterday I was neck deep in piles of washing, tripping over toys and living with a level of sleep deprivation reserved for the cruelest interrogation torture. But it’s really does feel like it has all gone in the blink of an eye.
My grandmother once said to me when I was complaining about the relentless nature of raising young children “The days are long, but the years are short”. I never understood it at the time, so deep in the trenches that the thought of personal space and a t-shirt free of snot, avocado, mud or blood was impossible to comprehend. But now, as I drop my kids off at one of the many and varied activities they arrange and participate in entirely independently of me, I can see what she meant and just how profound her insight was. Watching my boys grow into incredible, independent and capable young men is an exquisite type of pride and pain. My heart breaks in tiny little rips at each realisation that the beautiful little boys and their squishy little cuddles are gone now forever. And yet it is repaired every time they hug me with their big almost man arms or say “love you mum”.
I get to witness how amazing they are now. In all their messy, smelly teenager glory I am reminded that this period too is fleeting and my time with them in this home is steadily ticking away.
This experience has reminded me that we all live with grief in one way or another every day.
It doesn’t have to be big grief, you don’t have to have experienced a devastating loss to feel that sense of sorrow and longing or feel lonely or sad for things that are no longer in our lives. It's actually so common that it is known as Disenfranchised Grief. This is when you lose something or someone that is important to you, but the loss is not seen or valued by others. It’s confusing and subjective and can be terribly lonely because sometimes it’s just really hard to explain.
I’m also reminded that it is perfectly normal not to feel the way I expected I would or how others think I should, even when something I have looked forward to for so long is finally happening.
So, for now I am going to sit with my feelings of sorrow and grief and remind myself it’s ok to feel this way. I have realised this renovation for me is far more than simply refreshing and upgrading my family home. It’s the end of a huge, HUGE life chapter, the part where my babies grew up and that’s going to need some time to process.