Tuesday, October 11, 2005

our "small" house

We live in a small house. A mobile home, to be more precise. A 1973 single-wide Marlette mobile home with two additions on it. A total of 900 square feet for six people.

By most American's standards it isn't nearly enough space. But by most of the rest of the world's standards, our house is huge.

There are times we are content living here. There are also times we're convinced we need more space - times where our contentedness is a conscious choice and not made easily. But it helps to remember the things we like about owning a small house:

  1. As Christians we know that "this world is not our home, we're just passing through." Owning a small, aging mobile home reinforces this concept. We're glad that this is not our permanent home, even if we do spend our remaining 50-or-so years on earth in this aluminum box. It makes us yearn for heaven, which is a good thing.

  2. Less floors to vacuum. Less windows to wash. Fewer knick-knacks to dust. Smaller tub to clean... need I say more?

  3. I can hear what everyone is doing from anyplace in the house, without monitors. I know if one child is picking on another, or if a baby wakes up from his nap, or if the washing machine is done.... or if everything is suspiciously quiet and I need to go investigate. At night I can hear when a child turns over, or cries, or is developing a bad cough... or gets up for the third time to see if the clock in the front room also says it's too early to get up.

  4. Fewer lightbulbs to change, less vacuuming, fewer rooms to heat. It's better for the environment -- and better for our utility bills.

  5. Because we made the choice to live within our means (in part by not buying a larger house), I can stay home with our children and not have the stress of finding and keeping a paying job and good childcare, taking time off work when the kids are sick, etc.

  6. We have to kiss a lot of "stuff" goodbye, because all our stuff does not fit in our small house. For a dyed-in-the-wool packrat, this is a good thing. It helps me not form too many attachments to mere "things" and frees me to be creatively generous with my extra possessions.

  7. We have to keep the house somewhat tidy just to survive. If the computer table is full, there is no other place for our papers to go without being eaten by a pair of one-year-old teething boys. Since I have no natural tendency to clean, it's good to have external motivation. This also keeps the piles from getting so large that I don't know where to start. (At least most of the time it does!)

  8. It brings our family together. Quite literally. And when we need more elbow room, we go outside and enjoy nature - something we have in abundance here. Something we might otherwise forget to enjoy.

Don't we want a bigger house? Sure, sometimes we do. But meanwhile, we're content. Sometimes it's an act of will to be content, and sometimes it is a genuine joy to live here.

And it also helps to remember that for most of the planet, our house is a luxurious mansion: Indoor plumbing! Three separate bedrooms! A room just for sitting in! Our very own washer and dryer! And even space to store hundreds of books, and craft supplies, and a computer and printer!? Who in sub-saharan Africa or rural Asia wouldn't trade houses with us -- provided they even have a house to trade?

These luxuries are all gifts that we take for granted far too often -- but they are that: gifts. Excellent, wonderful gifts that we don't deserve -- but are really glad to have.


Anonymous kim said...

good post. Great perspective. Although on the tail of my last entry, it makes me think of physically downsizing; if yours is a mansion, globally, than what is my 'worst on the block in a really nice neighborhood' ? I try not to get caught up in 2nd guessing ... should we have stayed in our old house? Found a smaller home? Maybe someday we will still downsize. A large part of me wants to. A selfish past does not. My dreams of living a decluttered, simple life would have more pressure, more substance, in a small home .... but it's easy to make excuses, with our big clan ... and I think Dale might send me to the nut house if I suggest moving, he didn't like that part ....

10/11/2005 12:54 PM  

<< Home