"We are still cringing at the description . . . velcro glove stuck inside the tackler's helmet . . . snap. . . crackle . . . pop . . .YOWSAH!" came the concerned email from my friend, Donna, who had been at the game on Friday night. "How's Tris doing?" (Much better, thank you.)
I'll spare you the stomach-churning details of the evening, except to say that I had probably jinxed things earlier in the day when another mother had asked me about the football season in general, and specifically, my feelings, about watching my son play this highly risky sport? (In a word - conflicted.)
"It's their last game," I had happily responded, while waiting in line for my iced tea at Mulberry's, "I'm just hoping WE make it through intact!"
CUT TO: the ambulance and the Kaiser emergency room. Clearly, I had challenged fate . . ."Hang tough honey, you're going to be okay."
Actually, in spite of this rather unfortunate finish, it had been a pretty thrilling season, watching the Piedmont High School JV team dominate the majority of their games, with an ending record of 9 - 1 (that's 9 WINS, 1 loss). AND as a proud mother hen, it had been especially gratifying to see my own son, Tristan, emerge as a very dynamic player for this incredibly, talented team.
Even so, I would breath a small sigh of relief when it was all over. (Let's wrap up the season already!) Despite a mother's enduring love, I'm not nearly powerful enough to keep accidents from happening (although I truly wish I were) which means that the alternative to "fret and worry," requires a certain amount of "faith and trust!"
Such feigned nonchalance doesn't come easily mind you; it's a PRACTICE that's taken many years to develop and honestly was honed by my elder son, Case, who ultimately taught me much more than I taught him about "letting go" and divesting myself from a predetermined outcome. (Thank you, son.) Now if I could only apply these hard-earned lessons ALL THE TIME (think Thanksgiving Dinner) and to my professional life as well as to my personal one. Gee, what a concept . . . .
The truth is, it can be hard to "compartmentalize" the work one does as a REALTOR (or as a mother, or as a daughter, or as a wife . . .) OR to concede my inability to absolutely and unequivocally CONTROL THE UNIVERSE, especially when it serves our mutual interest so well. Unlike football, where I am frequently, blissfully, and gratefully ignorant, with Real Estate, I generally have a very good sense of what's at stake for my clients and the hopes they have placed in me.
With respect to Buyers, I know how long you have been looking for a house that meets your specific criteria . . . I know the near misses along the way . . . I know how difficult your journey has been . . . and I know the conflicts the struggle can sometimes create between partners. In short, buying or selling a home in our highly competitive and often, volitle marketplace is rarely easy.
With respect to Sellers, I know the expectations you carry and how critical the outcome can be. I know you are looking for assurances when I can't realistically "promise" more than my due diligence, best practices, and hard work. I know you are often dealing with a good deal of trepidation and fear (even when a move is incredibly joyful). And I know that what you really want is a crystal ball to see how it all plays out, prior to signing the listing agreement. (If I could deliver that, we'd both sleep more soundly.)
Given that a home typically represents one's single largest investment, it would be unconscionable of me to be nonchalant about the outcome of your transaction, and truth-be-told, I don't know very many GOOD agents who take such a stance. But even with the greatest of care, ALL agents have to make space for the fact that we can only control so much of the process; there are just too many other parties at play here, which requires a certain amount of faith and trust.
While skilled Realtors certainly make suggestions, help to mold the marketplace, give solicited (and unsolicited) advice, analyze the numbers, offer opinions, negotiate on your behalf, and guide you where we believe you have the best opportunity of meeting your goals and objectives, ultimately, we don't pay down your mortgage, OR live with the choices you make or the consequences they bring - you do.
Part Realtor, part therapist, part mother-hen . . . some habits die hard. (After all, I'm still cultivating the "Zen Master" part of the equation.) For now, my role includes a good deal of listening, and then thoroughly presenting your options in order to lay out a master plan that best aligns with your expectations . . . then I LET GO . . . trusting that you will make the best decision for your circumstances, whatever they may be.
Hang tough, you're going to be okay (and I'm going to be here to help you every step of the way - even when the journey is more "eventful" and full of surprises than we might have wished.)
How can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.