On Letting Go—For Now


July 20 we listed our house. We had, we think, 35 showings. Knowing our house would take a particular buyer (someone OK with a 109-year-old home, one bathroom on the second floor, only two bedrooms, large yard, detached garage and stone foundation) we worked hard for those showings. When done right, it would take us a good four hours to clean and prep—not easy when one of us was tasked with the job alone, really not easy when Sophie wanted to “help,” and really, really not easy once I got pregnant.

We had two offers. We couldn’t help but but hopeful as we excitedly walked through other houses for sale, thinking of possibilities, thinking ourselves working there, playing there, living there. But both offers fell through.

Fearing our house would never sell, we took it off the market for a month, interviewing architects and contractors about adding on. We love our house—it’s simply too small. Adding on seemed like the perfect solution. But there are issues with adding on—it’s costly, messy and, in the end, we decided it wasn’t for us. Back on the market our house went.

More showings. Second showings. Open houses. Frustrating responses: “House shows excellently. Price right on. Buyer wants a ranch.” Why, why, why see a Dutch Colonial when you want a ranch?

Christmas came. Toys came. Our house grew smaller. My stomach grew bigger. We tried harder. We bought fresh flowers for each showing. I wrote a letter to include with our promotional materials, pointing out the time-worn banister and the crystal doorknobs and the carefully matched moulding around the new French doors. I talked about our apple trees and lilac bushes and mint and lavender and forsythia and mums and butterfly bushes and everything that’s within walking distance—an independent children’s bookstore, the YMCA, Tower Park, shops, restaurants, the school.

It’s been a long, cold winter. Our showings dropped. Our moods dropped. So, we talked about another option: renting. We’d find our dream house, and keep our current house as a rental. Not ideal, but doable.

But, it turns out, we’re picky. Very, very picky.


There was the five-bedroom Victorian with an excellent elementary school and a gorgeous curved staircase … but every room needed stripped, repainted, redone, including the kitchen and baths. We worried about the amount of work the house required while also taking care of a toddler and newborn infants.


There was the lovely four-bedroom bungalow in an excellent school district … but it was priced quite high considering there was standing water in the basement and hardly a yard.


There was the purple foursquare with a huge backyard that we thought for sure would be “it” based off the pictures online … but the exterior needed extensive work, there was no formal dining room and the main living space would have had to been on the third floor.


There was the stained-glass-filled Victorian (have you ever seen a prettier pocket door?) … but it was technically located in a business district and therefore priced so high that we couldn’t afford to buy it and do all the extensive work (think moldy basement) it required.


There was the house right down the street that we finally decided to look at despite its low price, thinking we could get an FHA 203K loan and totally redo it … but after having a contractor walk through it with us we realized we could never afford to buy it and do everything we’d need to do to make it liveable.

There were so many others—close to 50 others. There were newer houses in subdivisions that had everything we thought we needed—four bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, attached two-car garages, finished basements, large yards—but they also came with long commutes, little character and homeowner’s associations.

And then, less than two weeks ago, we walked through a Tudor and fell in love. We made an offer without even seeing it a second time. They countered. We countered. They countered firm. It was still too high. We walked.

The next day I broke down and had, what I’m pretty sure was, the second panic attack of my life.

And so we stopped. We stopped. We let go. We took our house off the market and decided to focus on something, I fear, we hadn’t been focusing enough on—the two babies growing inside of me who are going to make their appearance very, very soon.

You’d think it would have been an easy decision—an immediate weight off our shoulders. But Andy and I are both quite stubborn. And we had invested so much time. It kills me to think of the time we’ve spent looking, cleaning, prepping, hoping. But, I keep reminding myself, as we make room for a crib and changing table in our already-full bedroom, it’s temporary. I keep reminding myself, as we set up a changing table in our dining room and pack away our fine china, it’s only temporary. I keep reminding myself, as I use great restraint in not checking MLS listings online several times daily, it’s only temporary.

And some weight has been lifted. No longer am I putting off pulling out newborn onesies, wondering if I’ll simply need to repack them for a move. I can better imagine our lives when our family (greatly) grows in just a few short months. No longer am I finding myself cleaning like a madwoman for a showing I was told about only two hours before.

Maybe, once our babies come and we’re sleeping again (that will happen soon, right?) we can talk about buying again, renting again, moving to someplace bigger again. Maybe our house will sell. Maybe our beloved Tudor will still be available, at a lower price. Maybe something better will be available. And that’s the thing about letting go—for now. With letting go we still have hope. We’re not settling. We’re still dreaming and, as anyone who knows me well knows, that’s something I excel at.

“You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need.” —Rolling Stones