Redefining Home During a Pandemic, During a Childless Life…

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of green front door with sign "Sorry, we're closed" next to it on "Redefining Home During a Pandemic, During a Childless Life..." on Not So Mommy..., an infertility & childless not by choice blog

Despite that I love blogging…  That I normally have no trouble sitting down and writing a post…  And that I know I need to write because it helps calm my nerves…  Despite all this, I am struggling with where to begin this post about redefining home.

Trying to plan…

You see, I like to stay ahead at Not So Mommy…  That means, I write blogs about a week in advance (sometimes even a month or more, depending on what’s going on in my life).  In fact, I had my editorial calendar scheduled through May and simply needed to sit down and write out all the ideas swirling around in my head.

Amidst a pandemic

And then, Covid-19 made its way across the pond.  Life became even more uncertain.  And I truly couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do.  Continue as “normal?”  Try to “lighten the mood,” offering a distraction from the tumultuous times in which we find ourselves?  Talk about the pandemic, though social media seems to be overloaded with posts about coronavirus?

I tried it all.  And all of it seemed to be falling flat.  Facebook reach was down.  Instagram likes were low.  And views at Not So Mommy…  Well, there were fewer than ever before.

I was becoming more and more anxious, feeling out of control, feeling isolated.  The feelings I had for so many years during our infertility battle…

The Power of “Thank You”

But then, I opened my email to find a message entitled “Thank you.”  A fabulous one struggling with a childless life found my blog while searching for a place to belong.  She wanted to thank me for sharing my story.

And I realized once again that I do this for that one person.  That one person who needs to hear what I have to say that day.  That one person who God leads to Not So Mommy… at that perfect moment.

Committed to blogging…

So, I began on 27 March, trying to write this blog about redefining home, which will publish on 6 April.  While normally writing a blog a little over a week in advance isn’t a problem, we all know that life is so uncertain right now.  To be honest, my husband and I are anticipating a shelter-in-place directive.  (If our Governor will get realistic and do what needs to be done to ensure the safety of our state’s residents.  But I don’t want to get on a political tirade.)  Anyway, by the time this blog publishes, we might be on lockdown.  Or we might still be struggling through this business is closed, but this one isn’t.  And who knows if I’ll be able to find any toilet paper…

Well…  I’ve rambled on for a bit, trying to find my way…  And now that I’ve processed for a moment, I truly believe it is a more than appropriate time to discuss how we redefine home in the midst of a pandemic (which will end), in the midst of our childless lives (which will continue even after)…

So, while the seriousness of this pandemic is certainly in my thoughts today (and I’m sure it will still be a week from now, too), I’d like to allow my mind to take a break from this stress.  I’d like to take a moment to write the original blog that I’ve been mulling over for several months now…  The blog that is supposed to start a “Redefining Home” Series which will continue throughout 2020…

On Being Childless:  Redefining Home

In 2016, my husband and I bought a fixer-upper.  For the past four years, we have worked diligently to create a home for me, him, and Maddie (with a space for Bruna when she visits about once a year).  It’s not quite done, but it’s getting very, very close.

The craziest time of our remodel took place at the end of 2019.  During the months of September to December, our house was a construction zone.  We gutted the downstairs to the two-by-fours, completing rebuilding our kitchen and master bathroom.  Replacing hardwoods, hanging shiplap, laying tile, painting everything…  Dumpster and storage unit in the driveway, it was an exhausting four months.

But it was worth it.

Before I go into more detail about our newly remodeled (honestly, newly redefined) home, I want to tell you a story from the days of our infertility battle…

During Our Infertility Battle…

Trigger Warning:  Discussion of “p,” a baby shower, kids, and more…

NOT Kid-Friendly?!

About ten years ago, Dane and I were living in a high-rise condo with an incredible view of the Oklahoma Capitol Building.  My cousin’s wife was pregnant, and I offered to host a baby shower.  (Yes, that was back when I still went to those!)  As I discussed plans for the shower with her, she told me that she had let some of the invited guests know, “Dane and Brandi’s house is NOT kid-friendly!”  And yes, she really did emphasize the “NOT” that much.  Her statement deflated me.  In all honesty, it broke my heart.

I disagree…

Now, as I’ve stated, we lived in a two-bedroom, high-rise condo.  Not your typical “family home.”  But I did not view our home as NOT kid-friendly.  Our nieces had visited us there on several occasions, spending the night with us.  We had a toy box in the closet filled to the brim with items for the kiddos to play with, including coloring books.  I had purchased a special Hello Kitty plate, bowl, and cup, plus child-sized Hello Kitty spoon and fork.  There were kid movies in our DVD collection, and our pantry always had kid-friendly snacks and cereals.  Our condo didn’t have a fireplace, so no sharp edges on a hearth.  The floors were mainly carpet, with hardwoods in the kitchen and tile in the bathrooms.  Plus, we had a bathtub where the kids could bathe.  A huge comfy sofa with an ottoman (not a coffee table) decorated our living room.  And our dining table could easily accommodate six people.  We were still considering more fertility treatments, plus adoption.  So, we were planning to bring a kid home to this space that was being labeled “NOT kid-friendly!”

My cousin’s wife never knew how much her assertion hurt me.  And the gathering at her shower was small because so many of the guests had wanted to bring their kids, but wouldn’t since our home was NOT kid-friendly…  Dane told me not to worry about what she thought.  But she was a mom, and her opinion mattered to me.  At least, it did at the time.

During Our CNBC Life…

Fast forward to 2020 and the remodel of our current home.  Honestly, at this point, I think I’d take it a compliment for someone to tell me that our home is NOT kid-friendly!  But I’m getting ahead of myself…


In February 2020, I posted a video on my personal Facebook page to show friends & family the progress that had been made on our home.  One of my closest friends told me how much she loved our cabin in the woods and commented that the interior was “edgy.”  Her description surprised me, as “edgy” is not an adjective I would have used to describe our space.  Her enthusiasm about our remodel, however, made me smile.  And I looked around our home through new eyes, trying to discover what she meant by “edgy.”

I agree…

Photo of our edgy bedroom on Not So Mommy..., an infertility & childless not by choice blogAs I really took in the details of each room, I realized what she was saying…  Dane and my personalities truly shine through the decorative decisions we made.  From dark stain to eclectic lights, we chose finishes that we love, without worrying about whether they fit anyone else’s idea about what “home” should look like.  As I looked at our Master Bedroom, the “edginess” became clear.  Dark stain on the log wall, a rich grey on the shiplap, an iron bed, metal lamps on the bedside tables, a wall of curtains, a trunk at the foot of the bed, animal print throw pillow at the head of the bed, light fixture / fan combo that is unique in itself, a family photo of me, Dane, & Maddie in an old, antiqued frame, and a Monet print on the wall that we picked up while on a trip with Bruna…  Our room shows the soft, hard, eclectic, non-traditional, childless, husband, wife, dog parents, edgy people we are!  And I love it!

Redefining Home: The 2020 Series…

I know life is chaotic right now.  And I know that you have many pressing issues to deal with at the moment.  So, you might not come over to Not So Mommy… as often for a little while.  But I’m going to keep blogging.  I promise I’ll be here whenever you visit.

Throughout 2020, I plan to tell you more about our remodel, more about how we are redefining home to create a space that is perfect for our non-traditional family, perfect for me & Dane.  When you’re ready, I hope you’ll give them a read.  And I hope that me allowing you into my home helps as you discover how to create a beautiful, redefined space for you and your what is…


If anything I wrote resonates with you, fabulous one, please tell us about it in the comments.
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Featured Photo:  Personal Photo taken by me; Edited using Canva

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Alice April 22, 2020 - 5:07 am

Hi, this is the first comment I’ve left on your blog, I’m normally a silent reader in the background but wanted to give you some encouragement for the great work you do. You truly are fabulous.

Your post resonated with me. We bought this house to be a ‘family home’, one street away from primary school, 2 excellent high schools, in a small village (so I would know who my little would be playing with and what they were up to), plenty of garden and a church with a large Sunday school. When we later found out that we would be CNBC, this house broke my heart. The rooms we had planned as a nursery or playroom, the school’s we have to pass everyday, the church we have since left – all taunt and pull at my soul.

Sitting here in my house today, working from home, in the nursery that never was. I can see the midwife visit my neighbor across the street. I can watch the children playing in the street and I see the parents ‘too stressed’ to not take their little for granted and just enjoy their company.

I think our houses are one of the longest lasting and continual knives in our hearts because you can never really make it into the ‘home’ it was meant to be.

Sorry to be a downer, as you know, there aren’t many places online (or in real life) where we can share these feelings honestly. Your blog and site is such a valuable and precious place, please don’t concern yourself with trying to lift the community mood or distract us from the pandemic. Please just continue to be your raw and honest self. It is the most precious thing of all.

Brandi Lytle April 22, 2020 - 12:38 pm

Oh, Alice! Your words overwhelmed me with emotion. Truly, I cannot express what your comments mean to me. Especially the last lines–“…please don’t concern yourself with trying to lift the community mood or distract us from the pandemic. Please just continue to be your raw and honest self. It is the most precious thing of all.” I so needed to hear those words, as I have struggled to know how best to support this beautiful Not So Mommy… community.

Also, thank you for being brave enough to be vulnerable, sharing your home with us. My heart breaks that your dreams are unrealized, that you will never get to create the “family home” your heart longed for… I wish I had some wise words I could give. I send you so many hugs and the knowledge that YOU made a difference in my life today. And for that, I am so, so grateful.

Mali April 7, 2020 - 12:33 am

It is amazing what some people describe as “edgy!” I would not describe your room like that – but it does look beautiful, and I love that it is very much your combined space. It sounds perfect.

(I also love interior decorating, so can’t wait to see what else you do in your house.)

Sherry April 6, 2020 - 5:35 pm

Edgy is good!! I wouldn’t have thought of that adjective either but love the analogy. Your home is truly and completely yours and Dane’s creation. What a blessing it is so close to being complete with the stay at home order being announced. Not too shabby to be stuck there!?


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