Breaking Ground

Today is a ground-breaking day for our family. I mean that both literally and figuratively. We are literally breaking ground for the long-awaited addition on our house. See that excavator in the picture? That’s in our backyard and it’s digging the space for a new foundation RIGHT NOW. We’re also figuratively entering the next phase of our post-marriage life together—a life that feels ground-breaking, at least to us.


It’s been over three years since we split up; more than two years since we first envisioned how we might add on to our house so we could separate but both live with our kids; over a year-and-a-half since we started working with our architect; and more than six months since we first completed a loan application. This has been a long time coming.

It’s not the first time I’ve waited a really long time for something. In fact, I think it’s sort of a specialty of mine. For eight years I slogged through a PhD program. For another five I chased an MBA while working full-time. I’ve endured two very unpleasant pregnancies–both were slightly shorter than the usual length, but they felt like forever to me. I know about torturous waiting and about delayed gratification.

And I’m pretty sure the end of this particular wait is going to be just as sweet as the others.

People ask us all the time how we can live together after breaking up. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that it’s really not that hard—certainly not as hard as most people imagine it is. If I’m honest, it’s really quite nice in a lot of ways. And it’s a piece of cake compared to the start-and-stop, agonizing process of getting the loan for this addition. At the same time I think we’re ALL ready for a little bit more space, and separation, and privacy.

We’re also ready to finally halt what feels like the disintegration of every part of our house while we wait for construction to start. We haven’t wanted to spend a lot of money fixing anything that’s going to be replaced during the renovation, but the dishwasher has now been broken for six months and our bathtub is leaking through our kitchen ceiling. It’s time to stop the madness.

Despite how happy I am that they’re finally digging up our backyard, I also know that as far as waiting goes, the fun is really just beginning! We’re not only adding new construction but renovating some of the existing structure. There won’t be many parts of the house that will be completely untouched. And we’ll be living in the middle of it, with winter upon us. The kids will be constantly getting into things and the dog will bark unceasingly at the workers and we’re going to all be right on top of one another. I’ve heard enough horror stories about home construction and renovation to know that the next six to nine months will be challenging.

Right now I’m trying to keep my sights on the end result even as I’m wondering how I’ll survive all of this. I have sensory issues. I don’t like noise. And I mean I don’t like it more than most people don’t like it—it makes me crazy. And crabby. And it’s going to be noisy pretty much all the time. But maybe it will be more like purgatory than hell—just a temporary holding place on the way to heaven? Really, do you think that’s too much to hope for?

In any case, as we embark on this next phase I’ll be attempting to maintain a sense of humor and I’m counting on being able to access some deep well of patience that isn’t available to me during my usual day-to-day life. And I hope you’ll invite me over to your house for a couple of hours, or maybe a couple of weeks. I’d offer to bring you some baked goods as a thank you, but I don’t think I’ll have a working kitchen.


3 Comments to “Breaking Ground”

  1. All the best with the reno — that is NEVER fun! And yes, like everything else we now cherish, the rewards of “groundbreaking” come after some … let’s just call it discomfort. Although my getaway is a bit further away than you are currently considering, mi casa es su casa, always!

  2. Looking forward to following the journey- it will be worth it in the end and keep in mind it’s temporary even if it feels like forever.

  3. Very cool and good luck. The journey you and your ex are taking makes so much sense if possible when one has kids. I recently read an article by a therapist concerning a similar situation and advocating it as an alternative to all out divorce and complete separation when regardless of the love or no love between the two, you will always be parents to the children you created and stability is so important for them.

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