Monday, April 27, 2009

Tried, Failed, Done Trying and Moving On

I'm still trying, unsuccessfully, to share my experience of having a family member move in. Unfortunately, it still sounds too much like I'm complaining.

And really, it wasn't that bad, but in a lot of ways, it kind of was.

What I've come to realize, however, is that I have no advice. As I was drafting my story, I realized that there was very little that I would have done differently.

For instance, my guests brought with them a dog, who wasn't housebroken (although I didn't know this little piece of fact) and who had fleas (to which my twelve year old chow-chow is highly allergic), and an unneutered male cat who found a spot he liked in every single room with carpeting and marked it ... every day (and I spent Easter Sunday shampooing the carpets while Deus Ex Machina took the girls over to his sister's house for dinner and an egg hunt).

The alternative would have been to have told them they could not bring their pets. But ...

... our animal shelters are currently overburdened with the number of surrendered animals from families who can no longer afford to keep them. I don't know that I could, even now, force my "guests" to give up their animals so that they could stay with me temporarily. Besides we have two dogs and have had cats in the past, but with all of my years of pet-ownership, I never anticipated how difficult adding a third dog and the very well hydrated cat would be.

Verde asked if I had reread Sharon's infamous Brother-in-law on the Couch post, and the answer is no, not while they were here.

But I had thought about it a lot. In fact, one of the options I'd seriously considered for keeping our house in the event of a loss of income would have been to take in a boarder, or two, and I had thought a great deal about how we could rearrange people and rooms to accommodate more people.

In short, in the event that our home became the "go to" place, I had a plan.

In retrospect, I think there are just experiences in our lives where we can plan all day long, but until we actually get into that situation, we're just sketching phantoms. I had all kinds of thoughts about what it would be like. Suffice it to say that my fantasy and my reality were very different.

There are things I could have done better, I'm sure. There are things my guests could have done better, too.

The good news is that I'm exploring other options for keeping my house, and that I didn't end up getting stuck with boarders on whom I was dependent, but who were making my life less wonderful than it is.

The bad news is that I'm much less inclined to open my home to those who might need my assistance in the future.

At least, not without drafting a written agreement, signed in blood ... and no pets allowed ... especially cats.


  1. Sounds like a pretty miserable experience. It's too bad about the pets. You are a MUCH better person than I. First time the cat marked its territory, I would have drop-kicked it right out the door. :)

  2. Some things can only be understood by doing, even having thought and planned and pondered for hours. I'm glad you all survived, and glad you got a chance to live the plan, and now revise it. And good job being a team player, even if it did require a lot of rug shampoo.

  3. you know how sometimes you read something that isn't quite there? Misread it? Well, I kept misreading the first sentence in this post as "moving on" and I thought someone had died and you were trying not to complain and, yes, that hit me as a bit funny. Background to my latest post is that I've thought about turning away people I actually love because they would be too much of a drag on how living this life has to operate. You can't complain or run the show, you have to work hard and be used to working hard (at least know what it is), and you have to eat everything.

    And no pets. Sorry. They are not your children.

  4. Hee hee, we use our pets as the ultimate excuse NOT to stay with relatives. We already have offers from SIL to stay with them until we find a place when and IF we ever move back up to AK. But oh, darn, her hubby is deathly allergic to cats. Shucks!

    Honestly though you can't take it all out on cats. Now male UNNEUTERED cats? Yes. Definately. Unfixed animals are the worst--dogs or cats male or female. My mother can vouch--she's dog sitting my brother's dog who always seems to go into heat when they leave town. Interesting how that happens.

    Ah family!

  5. Yeah, CG, even with this experience, I know the likelihood that I would tell my family that they couldn't stay with me is very slim.

    What you said about "eat[ing] everything" was kind of funny, because food was a big issue. I started to write about it, and the fact that our diet has changed very significantly over the past three years, but their diet is still very much processed food and fast-food, and the first time they brought a bottle of soda and put it in my refrigerator ... well, my reaction was pretty equivalent to if they'd shat in a bucket and stored it there.

    And there are other areas, too, where their lives are very different from the life we're leading. There's work to be done, and someone has to do it ... and what I mean by *someone* is *everyone*. There is no room for slackers, and even the littlest member of the family has to work occasionally. They did work - at their jobs, but when they came home, they decided their *work* was done. When we need food and heat, and have to work a little harder than turning a knob to get it, the *work* is never done.

    It was tough. In retrospect, I think we'd have to establish a baseline. Either they are guests, and are paying, or they are members of the family, and they are working ;).

  6. Kaye, their dog was unneutered, as well, and was a puppy, who liked to chew things - especially my beagle and their cat :).

    I think one of the biggest ironies about the whole situation is that they really didn't want to stay with us, but they couldn't puzzle out how to manage the move without this transition housing, as they had to find jobs, then, pack and clean their house up north, and then, find a place to live. It had to be in steps. Unfortuntely, while they have other family in the area, we were the only ones who could (or would) accommodate them. And the two months of living here for free allowed them to save up for their rental deposits ... and stuff.

    I think there are probably things they'd do differently, if given the choice.

    About cats: I really have nothing against them, and have had a pet cat most of my adult life, but when our last one passed, I decided no more, because *I* didn't want to deal with a litter box - ever again.

  7. rach:) - I'm not sure I was a very good team player.

    I was like the Prima Donna, you know the one who's really talented, and knows it, and when the mediocre players don't perform as well, causing the team to lose ground, I grumbled ... a lot. I felt like I was giving 100%, 100% of the time, but some of the other "members" of the team weren't, and it was irritating.

    I'm not good at not expressing how I feel, which caused a bit of tension ;).

    If I had to do it all over again, I'd try very hard to hold my tongue and think of a solution rather than just complain about the situation.

  8. Sue - you have no idea how much I wanted to do just that.

  9. Oy. Was this a case of people in need, or were they just visiting? Because if they were just visiting and they brought an un-trained and flea-ridden dog and a cat who loves to pee everywhere, that's just rude!

  10. HausFrau, they were moving back to this area and needed a place to stay while they found jobs and a place to live. Of course, in their defense, their cat was just reaching his adolescence when they got here, which is when they start "marking", and I don't think they realized the dog had fleas. Anyway, it was really just poor timing, but not malicious in any way ;).

  11. You are a better woman than I.

    But I wonder if it was more difficult because it was family? Mere friends might be more inclined to be on their "best behavior". Nevertheless, I'm pretty sure nobody would want to live with me because I'm a "my house: my rules" kinda person.

  12. Meadowlark, I'm the same way - "my house, my rules", which is why there was a problem in the first place. I didn't want to remember that I was dealing with adults who'd been on their own, and having someone telling them what to do was a bit insulting, I think.

    As I mentioned to Kaye, I don't think they wanted to live with me. It was just their only option ;).

    And I guess that's what Sharon kind of says in her BIL on the Couch post. In the kind of world she thinks we're headed toward, the kind of experience I had will probably be the norm rather than the exception - people who MUST depend on relatives, but who really don't want to be there.

    It was tough for everyone. I think they did well to still be talking to me ;).

  13. Ahh shucks! I was just gonna tell ya we are coming to visit with our dog, cat, 2 sheep, 2 pigs, 2 ducks and 20 chickens.

  14. Bayberry - the sheep, pigs, ducks, and chickens, you and your two girls are definitely more than welcome, but I'll have to think about the dog and cat ;).

  15. Yep, a better person then I am. I don't even allow MY animals in the house. The first time the cat pee'd on the carpet it would have been outside. I'd suggest a kennel/cage in your yard for "visiting" pets. You are such a nice person.