Sunday, March 30, 2008 it ever so Humble

Author's Note: This is an older piece that never oddly enough, found a home. I hope you enjoy it. --Sherry

We lived in a middle aged home from the time we were a family of six to our most recent child. There were at least 15 projects we could do, caulking, the hole in the kids’ room from that “it wasn’t a fight” incident and replacing the roof of 20 years would be amongst my first of the honey we need to do list. The plaid wall paper I meant to tear down the day I moved in, kept getting put off for that unknown time when we’d have more time. Faulty wiring in the kitchen ceiling made the lights flicker whenever someone upstairs jumped. The bathroom desperately needed some newer color than Colonel Mustard yellow. Given unlimited time and money, I would have worked to make our first home more hip and hospitable, but merely beginning the process often lead to unpleasant discoveries of how much more remained to be done.

We were planning to transform the garage into a master bedroom, surrendering the upstairs to the children. We had a contractor come in to look at the possibilities but discovered the garage had no foundation or footers. It was four walls held up by a roof and no small amount of faith in the seismic stability of Maryland. To do our plan, we’d have to knock down the garage, pour a foundation and add a sizable 50K to our budget.

The bathroom was also on the short list for revising when we discovered the tub was substandard and there was no actual room to use to put in a normal tub unless we wanted to surrender a toilet. The avocado green shrinky dink tub stayed.

When we got serious about repainting the upstairs, we decided to do it ourselves. For the boy’s room, we had chosen white paint with a dark blue trim. My husband and I had been working on the boys’ room for two days when our oldest, then eleven asked if he could help. We agreed and he happily went upstairs without us. Half an hour later, I heard a scream. The scream was one of pure agony from an adult at something unthinkable. Our son had reversed the colors and as such, there was a wide 6 foot large ameoba shaped blue swath across a once white wall, with no small amount of blue speckled on the floor. I took the children out to McDonald’s while my husband did damage control.

We had needed to replace the carpet anyway so this just accelerated the process.

Replacing the yellow smoke filled carpet with hard woods, I discovered that “new stuff” in an old home doesn’t seem to cope well. I never worried about spilt juice with the old carpet, or about mud or much of anything, it was so sad and old it had become useful in that one couldn’t hurt it.

Staring at the pretty white planks of freshly cut wood, I barked at the kids to remove their shoes and made them use sippy cups even if they were over the age of 4. I swept and dust mopped it every day. I was married to the new floor for as long as it screamed “I’m new!” at everything else. Normally, my children provide sufficient abuse to any object to erase that “new” smell within a week. In this case, they showed great restraint and it took over three months. Relief came finally when my two-year-old daughter who loves to draw, found the one permanent marker in the house and used it to play tic-tac-toe on the floors. It stunned me how little I cried. I put away the marker up high and put a coffee table over it, but not before showing her how to draw the line through the three X’s. I didn’t sweep that night. Now I could relax, the floor was part of the family.

As we struggled to maintain homeostasis in our old home we told ourselves, “Our next house will be new.” When we started looking for a bigger home, viewing those gleaming walls and bare rooms in the suped-up McMansions and the soaring prices made me nervous like I was a kid who had entered an antique store. The homes looked like the HOA would fine you if your blinds need dusting.

We finally settled on a gorgeous house that looked as though it had never experienced a stray crayola mark. For a pristine place to become ours it would have to accept the possibility of crayons and fingerprints everywhere. I suddenly felt at least grateful for our old broken-in home that held layers of memories in addition to all the coats of paint and do it yourself wall patches. For all its flaws, that old home could take on my family and my family was equally unafraid of taking on it. Still, we needed to move.

Our new home with it’s brass and crystal chandilliers and Tuscan colors I think sometimes winces as the toddler plays the piano with her bottom or the eight year old sends parachutes down from the second floor and floats homemade spaceships with balloons to the cathedral high ceiling. I hope as it comes to cope with the many sized hand prints that grace it’s walls, it feels more than the grime and residue of my children’s latest snacks, it feels like less of a show pony and more of a home.

No comments:

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!