Getting our house ready to go on the market was something that took a couple of years to plan. We strategically timed it so that Thomas would be at the end of his elementary school years and Leah would be on the cusp of beginning kindergarten. About two years ago, we started making home improvements and last summer, we began to pack up some of the things we could live without for a while. Two years is a long time to plan but we wanted to take it slow. We never dreamed that once the house was on the market, things would seem to move at such a feverishly fast pace.
Within the first four days of our house being on the market, our realtor scheduled 11 showings. Although thankful for the incredible interest in our house, it was a lot more work than we originally anticipated. Through it all, the kids did incredibly well considering the stress, chaos and uncertainty of the situation. The one thing that got our family through the craziness of selling our home was our flexibility and a sense of humor. Trying to keep the house spotless for potential showings whilst living with two young children was, to say the least, an adventure. Most days my mind was racing with “to do” lists, pondering how long I might have to live like this.
How did those popcorn kernels get under the dining room table when I vacuumed yesterday and have not allowed the children to have popcorn in over a week because of this very reason?
How in God’s name can one tiny Pop tart create a million crumbs on the kitchen floor? I could feed the children breakfast on the back deck. Think about it, the birds and the squirrels would eat the crumbs leaving very little clean up for me. Brilliant! Does it really matter that it is only 25 degrees outside?
How is it possible that a brief 20 minute morning routine to get the children fed, dressed and out the door, can result in a house that looks as though a small tornado has struck?
How can there be 25 dirty dishes after dinner when there are only 4 people in our family and we ordered takeout so I would not have to clean the stupid kitchen for the fifteenth time in two days? I’m no mathematician but, seriously that just does not add up!
With my daily vacuuming routine why do I continue to suck up random microscopic Lego pieces?
Is it bad that I find myself eating with my head hanging over the sink because it’s just easier to clean up the mess?
Oy vey, I need to work out. I haven’t gone to the gym in days. Wait a minute, my fit bit says I reached my 10,000 steps today. Oh that’s right, it must be all the vacuuming, sweeping, scrubbing, polishing, painting and cleaning.
Where the heck is my hairbrush? I know I put it somewhere out of site so that no one would have to see the long clumps of hair tangled in it’s bristles because I have not have time to clean it. Wait, maybe Leah put it in her bedroom? No I don’t see it but, there is a Barbie comb in her toy box. Yes, that will do. Don’t judge me, this is survival!
The fourth day our house was on the market, we had 3 showings arranged, with the last one scheduled from 1:00-1:30. At that point, the stress had begun to affect all of us. Leah was fighting a cold, Thomas had trouble sleeping the night before, I wanted to lounge in my bed and watch movies, Mark was behind in his grading and it was snowing. It was one of those lazy Sundays where you just want to be home. We packed up the kids, went to the YMCA for a workout and decided to go out to lunch to kill some time. We finished lunch around 1:15 and decided to head back to the house, hopeful that the last showing appointment would be finished. We drove up to the house at 1:29 and noticed there was no cars out front. Sweet! We unloaded the kids and dragged our tired bodies inside. Mark pulled out his laptop to get some work done. Leah sat herself at the kitchen counter and began to finish up her lunch leftovers of french fries and ketchup. Thomas yanked off his socks and shoes, and bounced up to his room to retreat under his covers and play Minecraft. I settled into my warm cozy bed, thankful that we were done with the showings so I could enjoy a movie on HBO while the snow accumulated outside my bedroom window. I heard Leah walk into the downstairs bathroom to pee. For some reason, my children have a tendency to leave their pants on the bathroom floor after they use the potty. Usually, I gently, or not so gently, encourage them to re-dress themselves instead of just leaving their pants on the floor for someone to trip over (usually Mark or I). On this particular afternoon, I was just too exhausted to care so I let it slide.
I was just beginning to relax when I heard Mark say, “Somebody is here.”
“What?” I yelled from the bedroom.
“Somebody just pulled up. I’m pretty sure it’s a realtor and another couple coming to look at the house.”
I frantically looked at the time on my cell phone, “But it’s 1:40, the last showing was from 1:00-1:30.”
“Well, they are walking up the driveway so we need to get out as soon as we can.” He darted upstairs to Thomas’s room.
I jumped out of my bed, yanked the covers across the mattress, flattened out the wrinkles and fluffed the pillows. I ran out of the room and quickly glanced around, identifying what was out of place. I grabbed the toys that Leah had splayed across the living room floor and threw them into the toy chest.
“Leah honey, we need to get out of the house quickly. You need to put on your pants and shoes.”
I turned and ran into my closet to grab my snow boots. I could hear footsteps on the front porch and I started to sweat. I spotted Leah’s pants which were, of course, still on the bathroom floor so I picked them up and headed to the living room.
“Leah, we need to put on your……”
And it happened in slow motion. I saw the door knob begin to turn, because the realtor had located the key from the lock box. Leah was standing in front of the door when it swung open, revealing an attractive male realtor and a young couple standing behind him, peering over his shoulder.
“Hi.” said Leah, smiling from ear to ear, wearing just her shirt and panties.
“Hello?” says the realtor, turning several shades of red.
I bounced on one foot balancing myself against the wall as I struggled to put on my second snow boot. “So Sorry, we thought the showing was over. We are heading out the door. Just give us a second.”
At this point, Mark and Thomas were rushing downstairs, my son with a look of panic across his face.
“I’m so confused. I don’t understand what is happening.” said Thomas. My sweet boy’s anxiety was through the roof and he was nervous.
“Buddy, I’ll explain more in the car.” I told him
“But I can’t find my socks.” he said, tears in his eyes, panic just under the surface.
“Don’t worry about your socks, just grab your shoes and get in the car.”I told him.
“Yay this is fun. Where are we going now, Mom?” said Leah clapping her hands. Could my two children be any more different?
Mark goes to the front door and tells the realtor “We are heading out now, make yourself at home.” He heads to the back door and makes one more desperate attempt to wipe up any melted snow from the kitchen floor with a paper towel.
I scoop Leah into her pants and boots, reach for my coat and realize that her leftover fries and ketchup are still on the kitchen counter. In a panic, I grab the plate and the car keys and we all make it out the back door, running full speed to the car, as snow accumulates on the driveway.
All four of us begin talking at once.
“What is happening? Why do we have to leave again?” asks Thomas.
“Are these people going to buy our house? Can we see our new house now?” asks Leah, thrilled at the adventure and excitement of the day
“I think I wiped up all the snow.” Mark says, the wet paper towel still in his hand.
“My heart is racing. That was nuts.” I say as I back down the driveway, steering with my right hand as I balance the plate of fries and ketchup in my left hand.
We ease Thomas’s fears and explain to him what has happened. Mark cracks a few jokes and soon we are all giggling at the craziness of the day. I take a deep breath and realize I am still holding the stupid french fries so I place them on the dashboard. We decide to drive to the grocery store to pick up a few items.
Halfway to the store Leah says “Guys, you forgot to strap me in.”
“Oh my God!” I yell as I pull the car over to the side of the road and jump out to strap my daughter into her car seat. I quickly hop back into the driver’s seat.
“Mom, my feet are freezing.” says Thomas.
I turn to look at him in the backseat and I realize his feet are bare and bright red.
“Buddy, where are your shoes?” I ask and notice that he is clutching his shoes with a death grip. Suddenly I realize what happened. In the panic of trying to leave the house, he did exactly as he was instructed. He grabbed his shoes, ran barefoot through the snow and finally hurled himself into the car. I made a quick note to myself, I should be more specific in the future. I will remind him to put on his shoes and get in the car. My bad!
“Mom, my feet are stinging!” he says again.
I glance around, and toss him his winter coat. “Shove your feet into the arms of this coat Buddy. It will keep your feet warm.” and he does just that.
We make it to the grocery store and as we find a parking spot Mark says, “Well, at least we know that in the event this happens again, we can make two beds, mop the floor, grab our coats and shoes and get out the door in 30 seconds.”
We all laugh and suddenly the tension of the day has subsided and it’s just the four of us, hanging out in the middle of the grocery store parking lot, half dressed as the snow continues to fall. I suddenly realize how lucky we are to have so many people interested in our house. This wonderful home has kept the four of us warm and cozy on lots of snowy days. It’s not too much to ask us to leave it for a short while so that another couple might come to the conclusion that this house could keep them warm and cozy on a snowy Sunday.
Eventually, we head back to the house, knowing that we really can relax this time because it was the last showing of the day. We all settle back into our routines and just as I settle into my movie, the phone rings and it is our realtor. He tells us that we have two offers on the house!
“Are you serious?” I ask him and he laughs.
After only four days on the market, we were officially under contract. He informs us that the buyers, a newlywed couple with a baby on the way, absolutely love the house. And just like that, I realize it was all worth while. All of the painting, cleaning, dusting, polishing, vacuuming, and worrying was worth it and I begin to cry tears of happiness. Happy that we have received an offer so quickly, happy that the offer was more than we expected, happy that the couple loves the house so much and happy that my family pulled together and everyone did their part.
Mark and I gather the kids on Leah’s bed and share the news. Leah claps her hands and Thomas bounces on the bed with nervous excitement, happy because mom and dad are happy but also anxious because he is not certain what this means for him.
I start to cry again and Thomas tells me “Just let it out mom. It’s okay.” as he gently rubs my back, my sweet sensitive boy.
We explain to the kids that our next step is to find a new house for our family. We caution that it might take a while and prepare them for the possibility of renting an apartment for a short time. Thomas asks about whether or not he will have to change schools and we assure him that will not happen. He will be able to finish his fifth grade year at his current elementary school. I ask Leah to draw a picture of what she hopes our new house will look like. She wants her house to be big with trees and flowers in the yard and a back yard for the dog, that we have promised to get this summer.
The day slips by and Mark and I settle into our beds that evening, a little less stressed than we were the night before. We are not sure what tomorrow holds but we know that we are one big step closer in this Leap of Faith and it feels fantastic.