Three adults, one adult-in-training, two dogs and two cats share this 1,000 sq ft space that we call home. It takes a lot of flexibility, compromise, ability to turn the other cheek and 'not sweat the small stuff' as well as a willingness to talk to make this work.
I must admit that owning the title on the mortgage has probably bought me a fair little bit of leeway around the house. I don't think that I wield this power over anyone's head but I do believe in the credo by which I raised my children: "Respect community space and leave it in the state that you found it".
This one simple 'rule' seems to be understood by all (the dogs and cats excluded - they have a horrible habit of leaving hair wherever they may go and don't even let me get started about their 'bathroom facilities') and for the most part, I would say that things run pretty smoothly when everyone simply cleans up after themselves.
It is still tricky because one person doesn't see what another one does when it comes to that-which-is-not-high-priority-to-you. One person's definition of quiet is different than another and the acoustics of the house differ depending on where you spend the majority of your time.
There are many benefits of pooling resources to tending to that-which-needs-to-be-tended. Especially when it comes to yard maintenance. I have reaped many, many benefits as lawn mowing, snow shovelling and cleaning the garage has all but vanished from my eternal to-do-list.
We have unspoken rules when it comes to groceries. Each 'family' takes care of their own food supply and I seem to cover off some of the basics (like milk and margarine, salt and pepper and the like). The benefit of a second grocery supply is that 'the other guy' may have something in stock, which can be utilized in case of emergency.
We all partake in this convenience from time to time and generally the stock is replenished without ever realizing there was a lack. Except once. It was "The Case of the Missing Eggs". The only thing is ... I was the only one in the house who made a case out of something that really didn't matter.
Little things were starting to add up in my mind. Things that didn't matter.
I have found myself living with a handyman. This is a dream come true for me! There is a flip side to all that is good about this.
When one person takes over the reins and putters around with general maintenance (big and small) on a regular basis, there is a tipping point. The point where one feels like they are being taken for granted. The point where they feel they have done what they are willing and capable of doing and there is an underlying expectation or belief that this will continue without end.
The other danger lies in going above and beyond the call of duty, doing your best on a continual basis and then getting the feeling that your best is not good enough.
There are cases where an impartial third party should be hired to take care of that-which-is-beyond-a-handyman-status. If things go wrong, it is nice to be dealing with someone you don't know so that you can question, scrutinize and withhold payment if the job is not what you expected.
We had such a 'case' this past summer. There was a residual feeling of unrest left in its wake. Words that hadn't been spoken. A sense of tension in the air. A little of the walking-on-eggshells kind of feeling.
So when eggs went missing ... I finally said something. I let it be all about the eggs for the moment. I believe that we all recognized that it had little to nothing to do with the eggs, but more to do with the need to clear the air and discuss life-at-hand and get rid of the clutter of unspoken words.
You cannot force a conversation like that. Well, maybe you can. It's called an argument. We don't seem to roll like that within our very full household. We 'complain about missing eggs' and wait.
The conversation came. It was good. The 'head' of each household sat down over a few cups of coffee Saturday morning and tentatively stepped out of the comfort zone of saying nothing ... and said 'something'.
We tested the water and got used to the temperature before we waded in too deep. But it was good. It was very good.
I have been single and independent far longer than I have been a part of any marriage or sustaining relationship. I question my ability to adapt to the idea of ever letting someone into my life because I have become so set in my ways. I was quite proud of the fact that things were going so well, so long after my adult son moved back home.
Then 'this' happened. It happened at the same time I was in the process of finding out their move-out-date has been postponed. I was starting to count down the months ... and then I learned that we still have two or three more seasons to endure. It was 'then' that I realized that maybe forever is never in my future. I can't even live with my son (and his girlfriend and their two dogs) for over five years. What is wrong with me?!?!
Then we cleared the air.
There was no arguing. No harsh words were exchanged. The tones of our voices remained calm, cool and collected. Each of us is more than willing to look at, understand and feel the other guy's side. We resolved an inner conflict simply by sitting down with a cup of coffee on a leisurely Saturday morning.
We are now laughing about the eggs. But I am grateful to have the sensation of walking on eggshells behind me.
The Case of the Missing Eggs was so much more than it appeared. I'm grateful they went missing because it gave us a very safe place to start.