So blog lovers, its time for a recap. We are now three Christmases into our French Home project and each year the tree gets bigger. This year we have plans for a Poseidon Adventure style tree that we’ll tip upside down at midnight and climb up the middle like Shelley Winters and Gene Hackman (younger blog readers – ask your parents!)
But what’s really going on with the house? How do we feel about it now? Now that the days of peeing in a bucket and not showering for days are over has it been worth it?
Truthfully the jury is still out. Sometimes when we’re in France and we’re cycling around in the sunshine it seems totally worth it. And just the idea that we actually OWN a lovely big house in France is so bonkers it makes me happy. But there are lots of days when I would like a)the money we’ve sunk into this project and b)the opportunity to visit other places. When friends regale us with tales of luxury resorts where they stick their kids in clubs where they learn to water ski or do macrame workshops I wonder if that’s what I should be doing. And it also means that I never truly relax. Like never. I work five days a week, I do housework at home in England in a house we’re renovating and as I live with three men/boys it is never clean. I barely keep on top of the kids increasingly busy lives and then when I go on holiday I’m cooking and cleaning there. We have no nannies to help with childcare (Peter and I do it all ourselves around our jobs), I have no parents nearby to babysit or do emergency pick ups and then I go on holiday where aside from the Landauers coming in to clean (and its about time to note that this is the beginning of our eventual breakdown in relations with the Landauers… more on this in a further blog) I’m then running a household of guests and families in France. In short – I’m exhausted. Brutally. Every fibre of my being is spent and emotionally it has started to take a toll.
But is this the fault of the house in France? Would a two week sunshine break alleviate all the above? If we lived in a wipe clean tiny new house in London would I still find week old pants under a bed and have to pick them up and move them to an overbulging wash basket? And if we had a nanny to give my children nutritious meals that involved some sort of green vegetable would Sebastian still refer to everyone he meets as ‘poo poo head’?
Can I really ‘blame’ my french house for all of the above? Who knows? So perhaps this is a good opportunity to really focus on the stuff that is great about having a house in France – especially as it is now fully habitable and we have in a sense realised ‘our dream’. The sense of achievement in that is second to none. Just the idea that you could go from this
Is such a major achievement I am metaphorically patting myself and Peter on the back on a daily basis. And I think, importantly as you grow older and your marriage becomes more mundane (sorry Pete but you know, I mean this with affection!) you need something that binds the two of you. For some that’s playing tennis together, for us, it’s talking about our French house. Planning our next bit of the project, sitting opposite each other at the dining table on our respective lap tops, me googling designer furniture sites, him sourcing broken tractor parts on eBay! And I am convinced that this sense of joint achievement and the fact that when we are in France we are able to experience a sense of actually living in a foreign country as opposed to ‘just visiting’ is a truly worthwhile experience. Sitting in our kitchen playing scrabble as a massive fire burns is a very gratifying feeling.
You just don’t get that if you’ve just done two weeks in Santorini do you?