As I move into middle age (the middle ages?) I know myself. More and more over time, I have come to learn about my level of tolerance. I could tell you that I have a fairly low tolerance for things like gin, gluten and perhaps even sugar. Alternatively, I have a fairly high level of tolerance for pain, tequila and a person’s right to marry who they love. There are some things in life where my tolerance has improved – say with wine or long haul air travel (arguably, the latter probably due to the proliferation of frequent flyer upgrade certificates). But its clear overtime, that my threshold for stupidity, arrogance and poor service is at an all time low.
We’re mid-renovation… can you tell?
Honestly. What is so hard about taking on a job and finishing it… correctly… and on time… and leaving the place in the same (or better) condition as when you found it? Seems like the basic tenets of home renovation work, doesn’t it? Except that my friends, is a rarity. Imagine hiring a contractor who delivered the job on time, on budget and as promised without a thousand things to be corrected/ fixed/ repaired. Sounds like heaven right? Well its about as common as a Snowman in the Sahara.
You don’t need the gory details. Trust me, its as boring for me as it would be for you, so I’ll save you that tsouris. Its just that I’m done, the kids are done, J is done. Its been 5 weeks and its going to be 5 more at some undetermined date in the future and its nothing but heartache (and back ache from all the packing and unpacking and cleaning and scrubbing). We want our house back and we want to get back to normal, whatever that is. It might be fun if we were getting a spanking new whatever at the end – but we’re fixing something that was broken so the big pay off will be to have it look exactly as it did when they started. The drag is that in the meantime, the house is taking a beating and so is everything and everyone in it…
So that’s my new understanding about myself. I have a very low threshold for contractors and missed deadlines and shoddy workmanship. Maybe my tolerance for gin will increase after this?
I need order. I crave it. I go crazy when I don’t have it. I am a professional organizer. I put order to chaos every day for a living. I love it. Its probably a bit of a control thing – the need to prepare myself (or anyone around me) for any potentiality is my religion. I pray to the god of listmaking. I thrive on tools to further organize my world. I’m 43 years old and I know this about myself. I’m a planner, a preparer, an organizer. Want to make me crazy? Then put me in a place where I can’t organize my way out of it.
And that my dear friends is precisely where I am right now. Mid-renovation on an insurance claim. I’m beholden to the schedule of several contractors (and we all know how reliable they can be) and an insurance company (enough said, right?). My house is upside down with boxes all over the place, dust in every crevice and appliances spread willy-nilly throughout my living room. The past month has been a series of plans, then amendments, then cancellations, then new plans, then someone dropping the ball, then disappointment, then freaking out, then yet another new set of plans and so on and so on. It has been a constant re-calibration and its making me crazy.
So much right now is so far out of my control. Add to that the madness that is back to school and the usual September shenanigans as we all clamber back into the swing of non-vacation life. And all I want to do is cry. It probably started with the white chalk debacle of 2015, moved swiftly into summer travel busy-ness and then this piece of sh*t reno situation. The real drag is that we’re not even getting something new and exciting. We’re repairing something that went wrong and its in the whole house, so we’re upside down in every single room.
And here I am, trying to wrestle back some semblance of order and control over what feels like a runaway situation. I can’t seem to get a schedule from anyone or a clear answer on what still has to be done. So all I can do is try and re-establish some organization. If that means scrubbing the toilets to do it, then that’s where I’m at. Cleaning. Scouring away any hint of a manicure while I curse the misogynistic world of construction and quietly try to rinse away any of the bad vibes these dudes have left in my home. As I climbed the counter top to wash the walls and ceilings, wondering what these jokers have in store for us next I realized how smart it would have been to invest in a good pair of rubber gloves.
The cathartic nature of a good solid cleaning session, coupled with a mantra to accept what comes my way is where I’m trying to be. But in the meantime I’ll make sure I have the name of a good lawyer in my back pocket just in case… and a manicure booked for good measure. Wish me luck.
Its back to school week. Time to get those little brains back in gear and for us parent types to get back to work. But school’s proving to be a bit of a tease. Shorty #1 for instance, was engaged for a solid 30 minutes for her first day at school today. 30-freaking-minutes. It was barely worth picking out a great outfit for that. Why did we rush back from holidays? Really! I remember getting homework on the first day when I was a kid!
Tomorrow, Shorty #2 is embarking on the first days of her educational career in this little game that the schools like to call “Gradual Entry”. It helps them acclimate to their new surroundings, a new routine and ease them through separation anxiety I suppose. But for parents it completely SUCKS. For the next three weeks, we get to tell our employers how we’ll be late for work while we follow our little ones into a new childcare scenario. Preschools, daycares, kindergartens – in this town, every last one insists on a program of gradual entry. So that means for the last 8 years of our parenting careers, through various caregiving and new educational ventures avec les petites, we’ve had to scramble around for the first few weeks until we can get into a regular routine over and over again.
I’m sure for some kids, this is a necessary step. But for mine, they’re kissing us goodbye before we can even shed a tear. “Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out Mom, I wanna go check out carpet time sans parents if you know what I mean.” Its like playtime-interruptus when we come back a mere 60 minutes later to collect them. You can see the look in their eyes and all they want to say is; “Really? That’s it. I didn’t even get a friggin’ snack.” They just want to roll. Full time, lets go! But no, we follow along with the rules and wait patiently (with toes tapping and phones on silent) while the Shorty learns the ropes.
Don’t get me wrong. I like spending time with my kids. I want to see them in their new school environment, watch them flourish, be part of their education career. That’s all good. Its just tough when you also have a full time job in an office with people counting on you to be there for that conference call or 10am meeting. But tomorrow, I will rise with the sun and put a smile on my face while I sit in an extraordinarily small chair for one hour watching my kid make new friends and figure out where the tiny little toilet is. I’ll smile and cheer her on as she ventures into the next stage of her life… gradually.