The Real World: when does it stop feeling like playing house?

February 26, 2011 § 17 Comments

You could say that as a kid I had a wild imagination. I didn’t just play house with my sister. No, no. She and I were sisters who had been married to army men who were both in the same platoon and had been recently deployed after we each gave birth to twins. Oh yeah. We didn’t play house. We rocked house. We imitated super-long-distance telephone calls from an “imaginary” place called Kuwait (it was the Gulf War, after all). We received heartbreaking letters detailing how our wonderful husbands had lost their lives serving their country. And then, we two sisters were alone in the world, against all odds…with our four babies.

Imagine my surprise when, after I got married to Robert, I came to realize that my childhood play failed to prepare me for what real marriage is like.

I mentioned on Valentine’s Day that Robert and I were saving our money to get a breakfast room table. Last Friday, we visited a good number of furniture stores in search of the best table. Saturday we bought it. It’s gorgeous, has a table leaf so that it can open up to an impressive 54 inches on all four sides, and we purchased two additional chairs for a total of six. Extravagant? Not so. When my parents come to town, we often have to eat in separate groups–four at our little teensy banquet table that we have now and two on the couch on top of (very nice) TV trays. When our new table is delivered a week from today, we will be able to seat eight people comfortably around the table. (We didn’t get four additional chairs for a total of eight because we couldn’t quite afford that.) I cannot wait until we receive our table and can finally entertain on it!

Today…today, we took a road trip around our little town and grabbed a bunch of brochures…on local houses. Our eyes were opened as to the expensive areas, the expensive floor plans, and the expensive amenities that we originally thought we just had to have. (I so want a two-car garage!)

After we returned home, our heads swimming, I realized we were going about this absolutely backwards. This isn’t like shopping for shoes or couches. You can’t just go browse around town and compare prices at each location. This is a situation where you have to know the amount of money you have in your pocket and select a house that fits that budget. (Although I trust most of my readers aren’t condescending, please allow me to remind everyone that I have never owned a home nor looked into owning a home. I’m a renter, through and through. This is my first foray. Be gentle in mocking comments. ;)) So, we’ll need to make a trip to the bank and speak to someone about home loans.

There’s some work to be done before we do that, but at least in the meantime I came to realize that Robert and I are on similar pages in regards to size and type of house we’d like to settle into (at least as our starter home). One of the things we have to accomplish before we sit down with someone at the bank is a salaried job for Amanda. That’s going to be part of my project over Spring Break in a couple of weeks–look for work after graduation. (I’ve already offered before, but seriously…anyone want to pay me about $30,000/year to read Shakespeare to you in your living room? I do voices and funny arms and everything!)

But here’s my greatest curiosity. Robert and I will celebrate our second anniversary in May, but I can’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that we’re grown-ups. Sometimes, most of the time, I still feel like we’re playing house. It doesn’t feel real. These past few weeks, looking at grown-up furniture to put in grown-up houses, I somehow felt like an even younger version of myself than I am. Is this our lives, really? Are we really talking about furniture and houses and cars and…babies? While it’s exciting and thrilling, it’s also surreal.

When does it stop feeling like we’re just kids playing house?

(P.S. I finished and e-mailed off my introduction this morning around 10 a.m. I’m actually…fond…of it. That’s an unusual thing for me to feel about a piece of academic writing, but I can’t deny it. These next two weeks are really crunch time while I work on drafting the next chapter. If I can meet this goal, then by Spring Break, March 12th, I will have a half of my dissertation drafted.)

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§ 17 Responses to The Real World: when does it stop feeling like playing house?

  • Lauren says:

    I’m glad you found a lovely dining room table πŸ™‚ That will make dinners with you even more fun!

    I think I missed a beat somewhere or perhaps my brain emptied this factoid (as it can tend to do lately)… you’re settling down in A—–!? Wow! πŸ™‚ That’s cool.

    My advice on the home hunt is that, after you go to the bank, your next best step is a trusted, low-pressure family realtor. I think they are worth it and can explain some of the finer points of the home acquisition process (which relieves quite a bit of stress, confusion, and frustration). Of course, it may be more fun to just look on your own at least for now, just the two of you πŸ™‚ I think house hunting sounds romantic, lol. Does that make me weird?

    Crazy! Grown-up indeed!

    We need to see each other sometime. I wanted to call you today because I’m hoping to maybe get together soon (maybe next Sunday?), if you guys have time. Haven’t seen you in a while!

    • Mrs. H. says:

      I can’t wait for you guys to come have dinner with us at our “fancy” new table! πŸ™‚ It’ll be so much fun. Give me a call sometime so we can work out our schedules! We miss you guys.

      And yeah, we have come to the decision to hang out here…I can’t remember if I made a general announcement about that or not, lol. So you probably didn’t miss a beat. We just figure that Robert’s got a great job, so why toss it away to go back to grad school? He’s going to put the PhD plans on hold for now while we build up some financial stability and while he also builds up some great work experience. By the time he does apply for the PhD, he’ll be a shoo-in! πŸ˜‰

      And I agree with you about the realtor. While we were driving around and grabbing info sheets from houses on sale, I felt a little overwhelmed. (“What the hell is a LR and a DR?” I asked Robert. “Living room and dining room,” he replied. Yeah…I’m in over my head, lol.) I’ll ask Mom and Dad about their realtor, see if Robert’s folks have any recommendations, and ask my friends who’ve recently moved too. I definitely don’t want us to make this decision without any guidance. πŸ™‚ (House-hunting IS romantic! Especially when you’re not on a deadline to move, like us. I think it gets stressful when you have only so much time to find a house, so you have to find it right away.)

      • Lauren says:

        The realtor we used was Martha Watson at First Realty (the one off of East University, near your vet). She was quirky but it worked out well πŸ™‚ Definitely see if Robert’s ‘rents have some ideas too! It’s good to have some different perspectives, so it might not hurt to be shown around by a couple different realtors (if that’s feasible for you).

  • V. Dub says:

    Hilarious! I don’t think it ever stops feeling like playing house. It was strange getting our cell phone plans and bank accounts merged before we got married (although, we do still keep separate bank accounts aside from the joined account). If we eat at a nice restaurant while on vacation or for an anniversary, I feel as if we’re playing tea party and that the “real” adults at the other tables recognize it as so. Heck, even when we bought our house, we couldn’t help but think of it as staying at a vacation rental and that the owners were going to come to the door demanding their house back. There was no way that we–Michael and Vikki, Married Couple–could have possibly grown up enough to buy a real house with a real yard and a real mailbox, right?

    In all honesty, though, I think it’s rather healthy to view these milestones with the “when did I grow up?” attitude. It means you’re not taking a single thing for granted, and every grown-up decision makes you that much more prepared for the next big decision. Life is a process, not a giant leap from childhood to adulthood.

    And while each decision feels like a big deal, it’s OK to giggle through the entire process like you’re 12. It helps to ease the anxiety. πŸ™‚

    • Mrs. H. says:

      I think you’re right–we have to take pleasure out of these moments, right? πŸ™‚ I love the image of you and Michael having dinner at a restaurant but you’re actually playing tea party! Haha. So, when did it stop feeling like the real owners of the house were going to come evict you?

  • Lisa says:

    I don’t think it ever stops feeling like playing house. I definitely have those days when I think, wait a second when did I become grown up. I want my Mommy.

    Anyway, congrats on the writing. Be proud.


    • Mrs. H. says:

      Haha, I especially have those days when bills’ due dates come around!

      And thanks for the congrats. πŸ™‚ I think I’m feeling pride. I’m experiencing an emotion that I’m not sure I’ve ever had before, so I don’t really know how to describe it, lol. I think I’m hesitating to feel too thrilled with my progress because there’s still so much to do–I’m going to try to get a whole chapter drafted from the beginning by March 11th. I think I can do it–I’m like the Little Engine that Could! Lol.

  • AMo says:

    I don’t know that I’m the best person to be responding to this, but in my one and only marriage, it didn’t feel like we were really ‘adults’ not just ‘playing house’ until we experienced a real crisis- medical and financial simultaneously. Reality can hit pretty hard sometimes, with both fists. One of the reasons I rather like my current reality much better. πŸ˜‰

    • Mrs. H. says:

      Oh yeah, I hear you on that. Robert and I had a conversation the other night about how a number of these big changes are kind of scary, but I reminded him that we’ve been together through our single-most frightening experiences (our individual surgeries), and that if we can get through that, we can get through everything. I think that it’s all about finding out two things: 1. that you yourself can survive life’s crises by your own personal strength and 2. that with the right person by your side, you don’t have to survive life’s crises by your own personal strength. πŸ™‚

  • I’m afraid I’ll be no help with this one Amanda, as I’m 48 and it still feels like Sara and I are playing house. But then again, we don’t have the right to marry, so that could be part of the problem.

    Also, sounds like your sister and you did indeed ROCK at playing house. I was serious into playing school, myself.

    Take care, my friend. Hope you and Robert have a great Sunday.

    Hugs from Haiti,

    • Mrs. H. says:

      Well, as far as the Hab. household is concerned, we’re pulling for your rights–it’s a tough battle, but I’m thrilled we’ve already accomplished the repeal of DADT. Frankly, I don’t understand why you can’t be married to Sara…you two have been together and committed to each other longer than Robert and I have. Just by that fact alone it seems like you should be the ones already married. Sigh. So, we still fight.

      And thank you for the well wishes–I think on this lazy Sunday, Robert and I are planning on going grocery shopping. And grading papers. Whee! Life in the fast lane! πŸ˜‰ I hope you and Sara have a beautiful Sunday as well!

  • For years, even after I was married and had three kids, I would stop occasionally, look around and wonder who this person was with this grown up life. And why I was pretending to be her.

    • Mrs. H. says:

      Haha! “Why I was pretending to be her.” Ah, that statement is SO loaded!

      You know, there’s this behavior that it’s extraordinarily common in graduate students called “Impostor Syndrome.” I was a long-time sufferer of it, actually–it wasn’t until recently (like, say, the past six months) that I finally embraced the fact that I’m an advanced PhD student for some reason. But Impostor Syndrome, if you’re not already familiar with it, is the belief that you are not good at your job and that other people will discover you for who you really are any day. Sometimes I feel like an impostor on my personal life–one day, everyone will realize that I’m not really a grown-up, and they’ll chase me out of my home and back into the college dorms where I belong! Lol.

  • This is my first visit to your blog and I already know I’m going to love it. I still kinda feel like I’m playing house. It doesn’t seem like I’m old enough for my life to be real.

    • Mrs. H. says:

      Well, welcome! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it so far, and I hope I can live up to your sweet compliment! πŸ™‚

      Part of me thinks that no matter how old I get, I’ll still feel like I’m actually just pretending, too!

  • […] really feel like we’re making our move toward becoming grown-ups. Maybe it’s more like a state-of-mind thing. Robert and I will probably always feel like our […]

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