Traditional Love

We Need A Kid-Free Zone

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Mom surrounded by kids
Are your kids taking over your space and is it hurting your marriage?

Before meeting with our architect, my husband Matt and I drove around Minneapolis snapping pictures of homes we liked. "What about that one?" he asked, pointing to a Tudor. I liked the sense of permanence and stability it gave, but its dark brick felt impenetrable to me. And I think first impressions count; they shape our expectations. While I didn’t want our home to define us, I did want it to reflect who we were. And we’re definitely open door people.Building A New Home And A New Marriage

As we drove, I sort of laughed over who I’d become. Because this wasn’t the life I’d mapped out for myself. Not too long ago I lived in a friend’s furnished attic. It was all I could afford, as, like most recent grads, I was strapped for cash. Then I married Matt and my surroundings shifted dramatically. Most of the time I felt lucky. But occasionally, slightly disoriented.

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The sun brightened and I flipped my visor down. "Will you put that up?" Matt asked.

"Then I can’t see," I said, squinting

"I can’t see the houses when it’s down," he said impatiently, and inside I fumed. It wasn’t the visor, but that he, as a first born, often assumes he’s right. And I, as a second born, struggle to know when I am right.

A few days later, we met with Jean Rehkamp Larson, our architect, and I was still unnerved from our fight. How could we build a home together if we couldn’t agree on how to position a sun visor? Jean flipped through our photographs, and asked each of us what we felt was important in a home.

"Sunshine," I said, envisioning oversized windows pulling in the light and view, so we could enjoy the tranquility brought on by our natural surroundings.

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"I want a way to close off the mess," Matt said. And I became aggitated. Because frankly I’m not the best housekeeper. We all crave a safe place, and a place isn’t always safe when another inhabits it. It’s the small things that can unnerve you after a hectic day: Where did he move my car keys? Why did she leave her shoes where I can trip? But creating a safe space with three children underfoot is like pushing a rock up a hill. At some point, you run out of energy.

But I couldn’t unleash how I felt in front of our architect, so, as I sat stewing, I listened. "We’d like a screened in porch where we can sit at night," Matt said. And as he continued, I realized he wasn’t asking for space from me, but space for us to come together as adults. Because when we spend so much of our energies on our children, we miss our opportunities to connect elsewhere. Why I Love My Kid More Than My Husband

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