Let me be perfectly honest with you: I haven’t thought about real estate in weeks. Instead, my mind has been focused on home life because, by the time you read this, we will have welcomed a new little Braatz into the family.
That is, if our new little girl cooperates and comes out on time. I expect her to be early. After all, I have stressed over and over to her the importance of being prompt and never, ever falling into the trap of procrastination.
Like most expectant mothers, I have noticed myself becoming more and more restless as the days pass, with the phenomenon known as "nesting" taking over my every waking moment.
I should be resting. Sleeping even! Instead, I find myself making endless lists of what MUST BE DONE immediately to make the house ready for Unborn. Things like, "Paint the wall. Buy a new duvet cover. Invest in a new rice cooker. Get a gas grill."
I’m not sure how any of these things help prepare my home for our second child, but they seem absolute and imperative the moment I write them down. Thus, I found myself at Lowe’s yesterday (full-term and waddling, plus a toddler) inspecting light fixtures (Couldn’t my bedroom use a new lamp? Maybe even a pendant?) and comparing paint swatches for a splash of color behind the TV.
My mind was racing: If I worked really fast, I could paint the wall before my husband came home and then he couldn’t tell me, "No!" Plus, I could pick any shade of yellow that I wanted and bypass any derisive comments about girlie living rooms.
Well, I forgot how much stuff you need to paint a wall. Even a little one. I bought a gallon of Dandelion Field before I thought about the roller, the pan, the primer and the special blue tape. Already buckled in the car there was no going back inside, so I noted the additional needs on the back of an envelope for tomorrow’s "must do’s" and moved on to Target, where I discovered mops, sponges and wood furniture soap. I’m not saying that I will ever use these things, but maybe my husband will. Hint, hint.
After Target was Costco; cross "rice cooker" off the list! And Pottery Barn supplied the duvet cover, thank you very much.
When I arrived home with all my new earthly treasures stuffed into the back of the car, my husband sat me down at the kitchen table. He made me watch as he erased my list of "must haves" from the white board. All of them.
Then he asked an important question: "Why can’t you just relax?"
The first answer that came to my head was, "I don’t know, I’m just an overachiever! I like to get things done. Accomplish things! Cross things off a list. I’m Type A!"
But that’s not really the whole story.
After additional reflection, I believe external, cultural influences help create a restlessness and dissatisfaction that goes much deeper than the nesting drive of a soon-to-be mother.
This is especially clear to me in our profession of real estate. Have you ever closed a deal without waking up the next morning thinking, "OK! Now what?"
Or overheard a homebuying conversation at a restaurant, and had to be physically restrained from jumping over the back of the booth to introduce yourself? There is never enough success in our profession. We’ve never closed too many deals, never worked enough schmooze-fests, never landed too big a fish.
I’m not bragging on it either! Success in real estate truly is what you make of it. And I wholeheartedly congratulate every multimillion-dollar club member out there!
But my husband had a point. If there was ever a time to relax, now would be it. While my 19-month-old naps, shouldn’t I be napping, too? Sleeplessness will come. Any minute.
And, as with any list, most if not all of the "must haves" I wrote down were nothing more than really unimportant distractions. My Dearest pointed out that the new duvet cover was gorgeous, but added nothing of true value to my life.
I agreed, but pointed out that not every purchase was useless — the rice cooker could save him from starvation in the next few weeks.
He countered with a compliment about my choice of paint color, along with the observation that it’s been weeks since I could bend over or reach all the way over my head without getting dizzy. Oh, and that he would not be opening the paint can for me. Ever.
I’m still a list-maker, an overachiever and big goal-setter. Still Type A. Nothing will change that.
But I’m listening, and trying to add balance to both my family and work life.
With that in mind, I cautiously suggest that all of us self-employed wall-climbers go home and read a book.
Sit at the kitchen table and draw red balloons with your toddler. Listen to your teenager talk about fashion. Put your feet up. Compliment your mate. Heck, hug your partner!
The big fish will still be there tomorrow. Your list can grow again another day. We are missing the moments between closings. Don’t you agree? We get so busy thinking about how to drop our card over the back of the booth, that we don’t even taste the steak in front of us.
I am going to go take that nap now. Deep down, I know I need it. While I really thought I wanted to paint that wall, the truth is, I’d probably start the project and then beg my husband to finish it. Besides, he hid the paint can.
Alisha Alway Braatz is a buyer’s broker for Coldwell Banker Advantage One Properties in Eugene, Ore., and a real estate humorist.
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