I was rereading my post about the weekend before last and realized that it sounded very tranquil – full of slow moments of creativity and productivity, sprinkled with exercise and cold, bracing air. The best kind of weekend to have when you’re stuck with an early spring weekend that’s still acting like a midwinter one. True, there were some moments that sort of felt like that, but there was also this very clear undercurrent of tension in the house. M was starting to slide down that winter cold hole that made him stuffy and hard to understand and difficult to communicate with – except that it wasn’t a cold at all, it was this raging, nasty flu that led to an ear infection that took him out all week. The girls had fun playing outside in the snow for awhile, but the downstairs of our house is in this perpetual salt lick state already, and then there were beach towels all over the kitchen with wet drippy things on them for two days, and I just gave up. I gave up on the laundry as well because I’m realizing that I can either devote some serious time to this addition project or I can keep up with the house but I can’t do both, and that fact makes me sort of tired and grumpy. And F was majorly tired and grouchy before Frozen and before her Bumbershoot class, and I’m not sure what kind of weak parents we are to give into that behavior and reward it with fun things where she ends up looking darling and not demon possessed at all – until precisely the moment the fun has stopped.
We soldiered on through the week, but it really slid downhill from there. Work is busy, and got much busier for me last week. The weeknights seem to fill up fast, and juggling it all when healthy is tricky enough. The rest of us fought off the bug in our house, but nobody felt great. We barely ate together and fell asleep whenever and wherever we stopped moving – on chairs, on couches, in other’s beds. It’s hard for me to just throw in the towel sometimes and let the week be what it’s going to be. It takes effort to temper expectations – to realize the floor is just going to be filthy, the ingredients for dinner will keep in the refrigerator for a few more days, the house project will come to a screeching halt, and we might or might not manage to get out of town for the spring break that we all desperately need.
Which led me to thinking about what this house project really means (or should mean). I think it’s natural to think that renovating a house and adding onto a house is about gaining something new that we didn’t have before. That’s certainly one way to look at it, but it’s also about fixing problems that we currently have with the house. I find this push and pull rather fascinating as I’m working through the design of this thing – crafting something new that will interact with the existing house in ways that will make it better at the same time. While the girls were outside playing in the snow, I was sitting at the kitchen table working on the mud room design, practically giddy at the thought of it. When I schlepped a week’s worth of trash and recycling (including one entire trash bag full of kleenex, poor guy) through the thawing muck filled backyard on Saturday, M asked me if I was imagining a more civilized walk between the addition and the garage. (I was.) Even when I’m putting something away now, I’m trying to take the extra few minutes to clean up, clear out, and sort those places, with an eye towards lightening up the load inside the current house prior to the start of construction.
Ah, but here’s the danger, the slippery slope, if you will (current backyard conditions / pun intended). Fixing things virtually (in a model, in a drawing, in our minds) is really fun, and slightly intoxicating. But it can’t fix everything, and it’s important for us (for me!) to remember this as we go along. Kids will still cry over what’s for dinner even when it’s prepared on new countertops. A sun filled dining room will still feel gray and gloomy on a snowy March morning. There might be better spots for soggy boots and overstuffed backpacks to live in the new place, but their owners will still need four thousand reminders to put them there. And we’ll still occasionally get sick and grouchy and curl up in bed while the rest of the house goes to hell in a handbasket.
My biggest challenge to remember? Big things take time. Man, but I’m an impatient one, especially during these days of unfurling in spring.