I am a firm believer that when a person experiences tragedy, loss or extreme trauma, it gives that person a more nuanced perspectives on priorities in life. When you experience larger life struggles, it makes other things in life seem more trivial.
Today, for example, I am very pissed off (pardon my language), about some of my neighbours. It seems that one or more have enough time to complain about our property and general maintenance that doesn’t meet their standards.
Now let me be clear here – we purchased our home as a fixer-upper and we made it clear to the neighbours that it needed work and we would be making messes in order to clean it up in the long term. We even pay a reasonable fee to a landscaper to mow our front lawn, to keep it pretty, so that we have some flexibility over our side and back yard mess, during on-going repairs. The side and back yard are not visible from the road. The only way a neighbour can see it is for those 1 or 2 specific neighbours who have a back-yard view of our property.
We’ve done our best to clean up the property, but I will admit that our standards are not as high as those of our neighbourhood. I was raised in the rural country side, in farming areas and my husband, although raised in the city, loves nature and would love to have a jungle in the back yard. For a while, I was telling my husband that his jungle is unreasonable and we have to do some yard work.
Now let me get back to my initial thought about priorities. In our daily lives, my husband and I work full 40+ hours per week or more in our growing business. We immigrated from Canada to the USA in 2008 during a down economy and re-started our business from scratch at a time when most businesses were going bankrupt. In the time since then, we’ve survived and thrived and grown from just us, to employing 3-5 other local employees. In addition to this, my husband has been working for 4 years on a side project that has now been approved by our state governor for a new state-collegiate backing of new tech start up businesses. And we had a child. And we still deal every other day with my grief and loss of my parents, while being so remote from our extended family network. Suffice to say, we have a lot going on.
On those days when we wake at 7am, bring the kiddo to daycare and still work a full work day…. On those days when one of us leaves work at 5pm to get the kiddo from daycare and the other may stay at work even longer…. On those days where we arrive home as late as 6pm or 7pm and still there are dishes to wash, food to cook, pets to care for, and random laundry loads to keep on top of…. Well the last thing I want to do is go outside and do another hour of yard work. I’ll be honest, I choose to spend the evening with my son and relax, so I don’t burn myself out trying to be Wonder Woman.
Yet still, despite the fact we explained this to the neighbours, at least one of them has still had time over the summer to complain about our property to the state home inspectors. Priorities.
Growing up without a dad, I knew I had to work hard in life. And each day, I put in full hours. Some nights, I don’t stop moving to eat until 8pm with all the chores inside the house.
Then, as a grown adult, I was the one who told the doctors to pull the plug and let mom pass in hospital. This changes your priorities. Suddenly, the yard doesn’t matter. The dishes don’t matter. Many things that were once important just don’t matter anymore. And yet, there are nosy neighbours with nothing better to do than worry about how much my “messy yard” will drive down property values. I’m sorry, but I just don’t care. I care enough to obey the law of the city but I will not change my priorities to make the view of my house “pretty” just because the neighbour wants it. I respect that they have different views, but don’t push your own views on me.
My priorities are very clear. I spend time on my growing business. I spend the little time in the evenings with my son and husband. I do the minimum of outside yard work, but my yard will never be the perfectly immaculate yard from the cover of a magazine.
I will respect your priorities and pretty yard if you respect me and my messy yard – just don’t force me into your way of being.
To the neighbours in question, if you are reading this….
When you are ready to have a civilized discussion about priorities and talk respectfully about different perspectives, please knock on my door. But if you only have time to get mad at my mess and report my home…. well I just feel sorry for you. When you have endured the pain and loss that I have or are willing to empathize, I am ready to talk. But until then, you might want to shift your priorities and just look at a different house.
Feel free to comment folks.