I write about the delights of co-housing and those are mostly what I experience. But of course nothing is all easy and this story isn't going to feel real if we don't get the hard parts into it. For me there are really just two hard aspects so far. The first I expected. I worry about co-housing with one daughter overshadowing my closeness with the other daughter and her family. I fear getting to know Liam so much better than Andrea just because of proximity and access. In fact, this problem was so in my consciousness that I asked Joanna her feelings about Ruth and Chris moving in even before I talked to Bob about it. So far so good with this. I've helped Joanna with her move the last three Mondays and spent some other times with her - went out to a fun dinner with her and Ruth without babies. It was great. There is a tension in me to create balance in all family relationships and the co-housing provides an imbalance, and I think it takes maturity on all our parts to manage that.
The other tough area snuck up on me entirely. I knew Ruth made a beautiful home, really is a skilled aesthetic decorator, and that she has definite tastes and that the way the house looks and the space is used REALLY matters to her. We talked about this early and talked about the need to declutter and I told her I wanted her to take the lead in decorating decisions. In the beginning that was great as she cleared up cluttered areas and got the kitchen cabinets closing properly for the first time ever. She has been very inclusive in color decisions and I love her results. I expected to get rid of lots of stuff, and welcomed that. But I didn't realize how deep her desire for change would go. There are bookshelves I designed and had built into the house that she rightly believes don't fit our needs now, and I find myself defensive, not wanting something I'm proud of to be changed, removed. I have trouble accepting that anything isn't forever. Also, some of the antiques I love (would I love them if I didn't know their stories and hadn't been conditioned to like furniture with history?) don't really fit Ruth's aesthetic and I wince every time I see her not love pieces I adore. Last week I felt edgey and defensive about the decorating and about needing to part with more furniture. That feeling has passed for now, but I know it will crop up again.