When we visited our children in New Jersey at the end of August, we fulfilled our desire to live closer to them by making on offer on the house. The owner was very eager to sell and pushed us towards a very quick closing date. In order to be accommodating, we rushed home and packed up – rapidly! But it turns out there were roadblocks of the seller’s making that impeded our on-time closing. We packed our house, we moved across country – but our home is not ready. And perhaps more frustratingly, we have no idea when it will be.

We have been here two weeks, living with our children (a little role reversal) and waiting daily for an update on our housing situation. Be careful what you wish for because we got the update but it wasn’t what we hoped for. We now know it will be at least another month before we can think about our own residence. And there is nothing we can do to speed up the process.

My “likes order, hates the unknown” self nearly lost it this morning upon receipt of this news (my husband would disagree – there was nothing “nearly” about it!). How long was this going to last? How long would we be homeless? This is soooo frustrating!

Of course, I recognize the absurdity of my position. I am, thank God, nowhere near homeless. We have our own space in our daughter’s house. We have the option of family interaction or privacy as we choose. Although I miss cooking and my own kitchen, I can acknowledge that part of me appreciates the break and that we are both enjoying the hospitality of all of our children who not only invite us for dinner but let us pick the menu!

We should only grateful for our situation.

The house is only the tool that allows us to be near our children. And that goal is being achieved, even as we camp out in our daughter’s attic.

But even more. During my little hissy fit this morning, my husband pointed out to me that I had confused my priorities (I thought this was very helpful – not!). We didn’t come here for the house (although I am looking forward to the en suite bathroom that I have dreamed of for years). We came here for our children. The house is only the tool that allows us to be near them. And that goal is being achieved, even as we camp out in our daughter’s attic.

It’s true that I would like to host the kids. I’d like to give them a break and invite them to my home. I’d also like to be able to have a bunch of families over at once and I had a whole fantasy of what our Shabbos Hanukkah experience would be this year.

But the Almighty had other plans, certainly not bad ones, certainly not ones worth stomping my feet and crying like a baby over, just different ones. And I think He wanted me to keep my eye on the ball. I don’t just want a new house for a new house’s sake. I want it to do kindness for my kids and, post-COVID, to host friends please God.

But I can also get caught up in the less altruistic side of home ownership. Perhaps I was spending too much time thinking about custom closets and finished basements and invisible blinds. Perhaps my attention was too focused on what sofa would work in our bedroom and whether I should get a side by side or stackable washer and dryer. Perhaps I just need to regroup and remember.

So the Almighty is giving me the opportunity to remind myself that it’s not about the house; it’s about family. It’s about the kindnesses and mitzvot I can do with the house. It’s not about a page in Home and Gardens; it’s about family and meaning and togetherness and connection with the Almighty. It’s not that I forgot but maybe I got a little distracted. Maybe the house itself took on disproportionate importance. Maybe I need a little reorientation, some redirection.

And I appreciate the reminder. I recognize that the house is only a tool (although I would like it to be an attractive one). I’ve calmed down – partly after quiet reflection on my husband’s words (certainly not in the moment) and partly after a large helping of chocolate caramel crunch popcorn!

Not only did my perspective need to change but since I can’t do anything about it, I’m better off just accepting. I appreciate the lesson. And now that I’ve learned it, could the process be speeded up just a little?