Hitting the wall

If more home renovation products were catered I think things would go much more smoothly. Why is it that in the pursuit of better living — or at least working plumbing — we first have to live in squalor?

In the past week we have been tearing up our bathroom (and everything even remotely connected to it) we have spent an inordinate amount of time eating out of a pizza box balanced atop a paint bucket. I have never understood how renovating one room in our home takes down the whole house, porch and yard and, if we don’t remain vigilant, portions of the neighboring properties too (with apologies to the neighbors).

The bathroom fixtures that we are keeping are currently parked in the upstairs hall. The ones we are not are on the porch (classy!) Tarps line the stairs, tools appear in the strangest places (a pipe wrench in the closet?) and no one can find a pencil — ever.

Project dust coats everything

I showed up at church today looking as if I’d come in from a snowstorm. I hadn’t. It was cellulose insulation dust.

Agreement

There is a long-standing agreement between me and Mr. Wonderful that he is the mastermind of a renovation project and I am, at best, an assistant. Not even a particularly capable one. I’m like a monkey assistant. Opposable thumbs, but otherwise just as useless.

This is not to say I don’t have some construction skills. I can paint, I can lift things and I am eerily proficient at locating tools lost among the rubble (I credit motherhood with that one. I am a human low-jack on most of the personal belongings of my loved one). Mr. Wonderful will be elbow deep in plumber’s putty and PVC pipe and need only say “skill saw” and I leap to attention.

I’m also good at locating screwdrivers but I can only differentiate two kinds — Phillips and regular. If you get into the weird hexagonal (octagonal?) shapes and metric, I’m out.

Mostly I stand around holding something or standing on something. Ladies let me assure you, the first time your beloved asks you to stand on something because you are heavy enough to hold it down while he works on the other end is romance. Good times.

Hardship

A few days ago I hit a wall — figuratively and literally. I was done with the dirt and the dust and the constant chaos. I was beyond exhausted and swore I could not take one more moment of the mess that somehow invaded every space.

Bedrooms were in disarray, the kids had to walk the plank, literally — 2x4s spanning the hallway blocked access to their bedrooms. Outside, visitors had to traverse stacks of plywood to reach the porch. I was dirty, tired and frankly feeling pretty sorry for myself.

Then I turned on the television and saw the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Nothing snaps me out of a self-involved rant quite like seeing people living in the cold while surveying the ruins on their homes. That is hardship. Plywood shavings in your cereal are not. Suddenly, hitting a road block on a tub drain or picking out the perfect floor tile pale in comparison.

If all goes well, this Thanksgiving we will gather together, perhaps around a shower strategically stashed in the dining room — for now. We will blow the plaster dust off the table, replace the tarp with a tablecloth, and enjoy our meal in a warm, dry and in a somewhat plumbed but never quite plumb home.

It’s trite but true

I have a home. It needs work but it’s warm, (mostly) dry, and we are blessed to be able to do what needs done — even if it doesn’t happen on the impossible timetable I impose.

The mess comes from the clothing and the meals (and the soccer balls) and the pet toys and the people toys and the myriad ways we fill this house with clutter — and love. For this we are thankful today and every day.

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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