Currently, my husband of 13 years and I are on the precipice of something we haven’t had any interest in until now. Homeownership. We have two children, one six and one nearly four. We have rented our entire relationship before children and we have rented this far on the journey with our children. And you know what? If we had the choice of renting a three bedroom apartment in the development we are currently in, we would continue to rent indefinitely.
I love renting.
I love the fact that our heat is included in the monthly rent. The cost never fluctuates. I love that if something breaks, we don’t have to pay for it and we aren’t responsible for fixing it. I love that someone else maintains the building, the lawn, and trash/snow removal. I love that all of those things are taken care of and will be taken care so that my husband and I can focus on what we need to focus on right now: keeping our heads above water while taking care of the two amazing beings we’ve been entrusted with.
My husband and I are a one income family. We might be able to make a mortgage work with the money that we have, but I tend to be a very nervous person. If I have a dentist appointment, the thought of going into that appointment will keep me up at night for days leading up to it. So, a crazy nervous person. I can worry myself into anemia thinking about all of the possible outcomes of situations and how we as a family will get through them. Why did a person like me even think about having children? The jury is still out on that one. But one way I can sleep a little better at night is remembering that right now, we’re renting. Thank God, we’re renting.
During this parenting journey, we’ve been bogged down with a myriad of people warning us that we’re, “Throwing our money away” on rent.
Those people assume that we are constantly worrying about missing out on a great investment. We’re not throwing our money away. We’re getting a great living situation which affords all of us more peace of mind. Simply because we don’t own the windows we wash doesn’t make us any less happy as a family.
I remember growing up and having friends that lived in big houses, small houses, trailers, double-wides, and cabins. I don’t remember thinking twice about where we all lived. My family rented until I was eight years old and then bought a home. I don’t remember being any less happy or happier as a child in the rented house than in the house we owned.
It was just a house.
For a year, as an adult, I got the incredible opportunity to volunteer at one of the COTS family shelters, working with the kids of displaced families. It was remarkable to see how happy these children were despite losing their homes and being moved into a single room at the shelter with the remainder of their family. I saw that they were happy because they had a roof over their heads and their family was still surrounding them.
The most stable and important part of any family is not the boards and panes of glass surrounding it but the anchoring presence of the caregivers. If those anchors are adrift or not tethered at all, you could live in a 12 bedroom mansion (rented or not!) and the family would suffer.
Some people choose not to have children or get married and for us, so far, we choose not to purchase a home. It’s important for people to realize that there is no shame in not owning a home. Just as there is no shame in working or not working after having children, being married or not getting married, or having children or not having children. There is no shame in living your truth and trying to create stability in your life no matter what kind of roof, paid for or on loan, you have over your head.
Don’t buy into the idea that there is only one correct path to success in this life journey you and your family are on.
Don’t buy into the idea that if your family chooses a different set of goals you are less successful or less stable as a family. Your children don’t care if you pay a mortgage or a rent check, they care that you are mentally present with them, that’s it. We all know that being mentally present with our children is a feat no matter where you’re living. In all of the push and shove of life and societal pressure, we forget what a house used to be, just mortar and a few walls and a roof to keep your family safe and warm. Is your house doing that for your family? Then congratulations, you are doing great! You’re doing better than most of the people in the world.
Never forget the old cliche that a house is just walls and a roof, and a home is what happens inside that structure.
It’s cheesy, but as my husband and I have found, it’s very true.
As for us, we will continue to rent until the time comes when our housing path takes another turn, but no matter when or if that happens, I’m not going to worry about what other people think about how my living situation might reflect on the success of our family.
Because really what they think is none of my business.