Last Thursday was Thanksgiving. It began in a very non-traditional way. Usually we have a delicious breakfast and relaxing morning. This year we moved our table outside into the yard and every other object out of the two downstairs rooms. It’s been on the list to refinish the floors for a very long time, and the time worked out to begin.
Thankfully we were able to enjoy some family time at Matt’s brother’s house that evening.
The rest of the week has been spent sanding, staining, and polyurethane the living room and dining room floors. It’s been a puzzle, figuring out the timing of when to be home and when to be out. One morning, the oldest two went to school and Matthew finished the second coat of poly, while I stayed upstairs with the short crowd. We didn’t have a ton of food, because I didn’t think it through very well, but we survived until the floor was dry enough for us to venture downstairs and leave the house.
Every Thursday the street cleaners clean our side of the street where we live, and we have to move our van from 10-noon. I remember getting a ticket when I was 9 months pregnant with Betty. Matthew was in Haiti, and I drove my pregnant self over to the police station to beg forgiveness, because we were that broke, and twenty bucks was almost at tank of gas. Ever since then, I’ve been pretty vigilant about Thursdays.
Today, as I moved the van to the other side of the street, I glanced down to see an eighth of a burrito in a piece of foil on the floor of the van. I grabbed it and went to the bathroom to get my shower. I’m sure no one else has pulled this trick. I hunkered down in the bathroom to “take a shower”, when in reality I just sat on the footstool with the five bites of burrito. It was delicious, by the way. Reminiscent of my hurried date with Matthew the day before, when I delivered a tool to him at work and brought him a better-than-chipotle-salad from our favorite Mexican joint.
I finally did shower, and by the time I was finished, Harry was awake. This is kind of when things started spiraling rather quickly. It might have been the clean laundry spilling onto the floor from the overflowing baskets (who’s idea is it to do laundry during a renovation??) or maybe the cans of polyurethane, or the broom handles, crumbs, coats, and papers which all acted like they had magnets built into them… the floor being their greatest attraction. There was probably one more question asked, one more whine, voicing what was welling up inside my own spirit all day long. I don’t even remember. But I yelled: “Mommy needs a timeout!” and ran to my room. After throwing some of the aforementioned clean towels around, I sat down and started to fold them. I cried and complained about living in such chaos. Then a quiet little knock on my door. A kiss from Jack. A smile from Harry. A note from Betty. A freshly baked cookie from Elsie. Tears were dried, apologies were spoken, forgiveness was given. We set out for a coffee shop to soothe the cabin fever which felt smothering to us all. Because acknowledging the problem is ok and helpful. But staying there is not.
We’re all definitely ready to get the piano out of the kitchen (sounds cute, I know, but definitely not practical for our house, unless it doubles up as a bar stool for the island). We’re ready to sit down together at the table again. To have our couch back inside and not go to bed with the smell of fresh poly wafting up the stairs. Will all this chaos and mess be worth it? Absolutely! If I’ve been reminded of one thing, it’s been this: every difficult thing we go through produces something beautiful. If we let it. Some of the most beautiful things we enjoy have been forged through fire, heat, friction, water, repetition, monotony, blood, sweat, tears, and time. And if I may add: sandpaper and polyurethane.