The Mom Without a House :: When Enough Doesn’t Feel Like Enough

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Before I got married, I felt like the oddball because I was the mom without a husband. No matter which way you swing it, it mattered, and I never quite fit in. Now I’m the mom without a house and quite frankly, it feels the same way.

Someone in our playgroup asked me, “Hey, why are you guys still in an apartment anyway?”

Rude much?

Well, let’s see. We’re not in a financial position to buy a house; and quite frankly, I haven’t decided if I want that kind of commitment. If we owned a house and something were to break… Hey! We can’t afford to fix it!

I prefer not to get in over my head, so until we’re in a financial position to buy the house we want and to deal with life’s annoyances (leaky roof anyone?), this is where we will be.

I love my pretty Christmas tree, and my (somewhat) nicely decorated living room (hey, we’re balling on a budget over here), but that nagging feeling at the back of my head keeps saying, “It’s not enough.”

I’d love to host a play date here because we have more than enough space, but I can’t get the thought out of my mind: What will all those other moms with their gorgeous homes will think of my meager little two-bedroom, two-bath apartment? Will they care about all those stupid dirt stains that were there on the carpet before we even moved in? What about our kids having to share a room because we can’t afford a three-bedroom place? (Not that our six-year-old sleeps in there anyway.)

I feel like the second they walk in, we’d be seen as having less. As being less.

There’s no yard to put the kids’ Power Wheels in. The Cozy Coupe takes up far too much space in the living room. No yard to let the animals out in when they’re driving me nuts in the house. No yard to let the kids outside to play in. No yard to put up a nice playset. All those playsets I see acquaintances posting on the for-sale sites? I can’t buy them.

I would love nothing more than to be able to take my kids out into the yard so they can run around. I hate having to go to the park if we want to get out of the house. I hate having to lug everyone down the steps, into the car, and into their carseats.

I’d love pictures of my kids running around a nicely groomed lawn. My husband would have a ball with a lawn. I’d have a little garden section where I could plant some gorgeous wisteria that will bloom in the spring. And a trampoline! We would LOVE a trampoline! We had a small one in the living room, but it is currently taken apart under the couch because we had to make room for the Christmas tree.

I’ve gone to great lengths to make this apartment our home, a place that feels welcoming and cozy. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a pang of jealousy when I go to some of my fellow moms’ neighborhoods and they have these $300,000 or $500,000 houses. Yes, I wish I had that too! I wish we had front steps, and an upstairs, and a garage too!

I walk into my home and I try to imagine what it would be like, having that life. As cozy as it is in here, it isn’t always fun living in a place that feels like a shoebox at times.

But just as people come in different shapes and sizes, so do homes. We are not less just because our space is less. There’s no yard, no nice banister for me to wrap garland around, but this is still our home. As long as we’re here, and our things, and our pets, this is in fact our home. No matter how big it is.

Can you relate? Do you wish you had more?

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Simone Praylow is wife and bestest friend in the world to Otis (better known as Odor) and mom to football and soccer loving Grayson 12, competitive cheerleader Elind, 7 and tantrum expert Ozzy Voltaire, 2. She is a native of New Jersey but relocated to Key West and later Columbia. As an overachiever, she believes learning is the best gift she can give her children and spends much of her time teaching her children at home (Grayson attends school, but the learning doesn't end when he leaves the classroom). Simone finds motherhood and family life are most easily managed by having a system in place for homelife, kids' schedules (including learning, screen time and reading) and meal planning. She is an avid reader who finds books are one of the best ways to unwind at the end of the day. She spends a lot of time boxing and at Pure Barre getting her burn on. You'll often find her buried in a book or on Pinterest getting ideas for her next project or yummy meals for the family menu.

16 COMMENTS

  1. I NEVER have people over. NEVER. We have a house, but every stick of furniture in it is secondhand. It’s not decorated. And it’s pretty cluttered. Clean, but cluttered.

    It’s also small, two bed two bath, so there’s no playroom and my son’s bedroom is constantly a disaster, so I’d be mortified if other kids had to play in there.

    It hasn’t been redecorated since 1985. No exaggeration. We’re rocking a lot of mauve and country blue on the walls. And don’t even get me started on the kitchen. Granite countertops wouldn’t dream of going into my kitchen.

    I definitely feel ya. While we do have a yard, I’m way too embarrassed to ever let other kids (or their 2500sq ft living, nicely decorated, new furniture having mamas) come over to use it.

    • See I think the apartment is decorated…. But the carpet is just God awful! It was so nice when we moved in but now every stain that was here before us has reared its ugly head. I want to kick the floor more times than you can imagine.

  2. ouch…. I am the mom without a husband and I feel very less specially during holiday season.
    I lived in an apartment complex for a year and a half and had my baby shower in my apartment. yeah, even my best friends made jokes about my neighborhood, some said they were concerned about me because it was a dangerous area. I looked for houses to rent because I wanted to start an in home daycare and realized I could rent for 100 more than the apartment rent…. Oh well… I didn’t have that 100 more. During the winter I decided to transfer from my 2 bedroom to a 1 bedroom so I would spend less to keep me and baby warm. By then I had 2 of my aunts visiting me…and for 20 days we all shared a one bedroom one bath apartment stuffed with a bunch of extra stuff since I didn’t want to pay storage. I know the feeling but please do not get discouraged when you least expect the days of apartment living will be over and you will have the beautiful lawn and the kids will be playing in the backyard. Hugs!

  3. Girl… Host. A. Playdate. I’m telling you, it ain’t no thang. There are plenty of us in apartments and so many of us who’d applaud you’re frugality!! There is a lot to be said for living within your means. I think you should just take the plunge and invite some kids over. I think you’ll find that it’s not as bad as you are fearing it will be. Start small. I host only 5 moms at a time at my apartment and, once you add in the kiddos, that’s about all my place can handle. God love all my guests that have to hike up to the third story to visit us. I always try to remember to offer everyone a tall glass of ice water when they arrive. 😉

    • Thanks for the support Angela! The last two times I tried to host (in another group) everyone cancelled so now I’m host shy

      • The key to getting people to start attending playdates in your home, I’ve found, is to find some kind of “schtick.” Make a craft! Build your own pizza! Pajama party! Think of some kind of theme that people won’t want to miss out on. You can even ask for a few dollars per person so it doesn’t burden you as the host. 😉 Then, once you become more comfortable and your guests feel comfortable at your place, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem with cancellations. 😉

  4. We recently bought a brand new double wide- a home that I’ve looked forward to for a very long time! We went from a 2 bedroom 2 bath (with 5 of us)- to a big, nice 4 bedroom, 2 bath. However shortly after we moved in, I realized that I was ashamed of saying “we live in a double wide”- and I find myself worried that my kids friends parents, with huge houses in nice neighborhoods, will think less of us if they were to come over for a play date or sleepover. We live out in the country, no subdivision, no neighbor kids that are within walking distance. Just us and a dirt road. I’ve never lived in anything but a double wide, I don’t know why it’s such an issue for me- but it has been.

    • I have that same fear. There have been no sleepovers or friends over from school because i just don’t know what people will think because it’s not a nice house. Just a nice apartment.

  5. I could have written this. I’m a divorced then remarried mom and we (all 6 of us) live in a town home that is half the size of the house I lived in before I got divorced. It’s small and cluttered and I just feel like it isn’t enough. That I’m not enough. I think that I’ll be too old to move when we have a financial situation that allows us to do so. It’s nice to hear I’m not alone

  6. This hit home for me! My husband and I bought a house before I had my daughter. It was a money pit. It ended up needing a new roof, new pipes ($14,000 to get replaced, which we had to pay due to the water backing up in our kitchen sink and dishwasher causing a foul odor), and the back yard flooded every time it rained. Our credit was negatively affected because, like you said, we didn’t have the money to fix what was broken. We sold it with little profit and moved into an apartment. It took me a long time to realize that we’re an apartment family and our home is home because we all live here safe and happy.

  7. Dear One,
    Your article touched my heart so much I had to send my very fist reply on the internet . You are so smart not living above your means like most people these days and I really admire you for being a full time mom. My daughter will be 21 soon and it’s true that time flies! Each day with your children is a blessing- and an investment in them. Guess what? If anyone moms you so sweetly invited over thought less of you in a neat, clean apt. Then they wouldn’t ever be real friends. You’re young and just starting out. Many people don’t think of the inevitable expensive repAirs, etc and the stress is hard to handle.

    I remember being embarrassed about having a party in our first fixer upper since we couldn’t afford to replace the ugly, wore out carpet. My husband rented a shampoo machine at the grocery store and for 8 hours mud ran down the driveway from the machine house . But, little by little year by year we worked on it and I wished I had a nicer home in a nicer neighborhood.

    Yes, we moved a couple more times and did the same improvements but you know what? Nicer home …snobby neighbors, bigger home…jealous mean neighbors.

    My sweet mom used to say “if you have one true friend in life you’re lucky”. Jesus didn’t even have a home and he created the world.

    Go ahead and have people over with their children. How kind of you to extend hospitality in a selfish world. Over time, God will show you who is sincere and nice.

    While living in SF before the recession, there were millions of people over extending themselves and buying bigger and bigger homes. They were impressed with themselves. Then the bubble burst and they were left with debt! Leased cars, credit cards maxed out and even lost businesses. They were the people who wouldn’t come to my home that was a lot less expensive. And. We prospered, slowly.

    If I were near you, I’d like to visit and the love in your home would be the most beautiful part I’d see.

  8. Hanks for writing this! I think we all have to remember that everyone feels this way! People with big homes may feel like they don’t fit in because they can’t spend as much time with their kids because they need to work to pay for the home! Comparing to others always makes us feel inadequate, but we have no idea what is going on in their lives! That being said, our generation is constantly trying to have more and beat the Jones’. IRS a real struggle, but in the end none of it says anything about our personal value or worth!

  9. Awesome Post. Sometimes you think that it’s just “you” but realize many of us are in the same boat. We just have to remember to always let wisdom prevail and remember to pass these good values (not living beyond our means, self worth doesn’t could from things, etc) to our kids. We are the examples that model most. Thanks for sharing and reminding me to be grateful.

  10. where is your husband parents if u don’t mine me asking and I feel u there plenty of time I wish my kids could’ve met mi and my husband parent but that will never happen and u can always get a house just keep striving I just bought one last year 4bedroom and 2 bath even my dogs have there own room lol but it get better just strive

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