Day 39

It’s been quite a week.

 

  • We picked out cabinets.
  • The contractors demolished an old chimney.
  • Plumbing in the kitchen is done.
  • The kitchen radiator got lifted up today, so we can finish the floor.
  • We can see where the lights are going.
  • The electrical is going in this week.
  • The laundry room floor is being rebuilt this week.

So things are moving and that’s an encouragement. Emotionally we’re still doing okay as well, though…

  • My son just learned the word “hate,” and thus I got my first “I hate you” from him, and it was because I wouldn’t give him a juice box. (When I pointed out that saying that over a juice box was a waste he recanted pretty fast.)
  • My husband and I had our first fight about the remodel (though it was more about cleaning responsibilities than the actual remodel).

On the other side of this past week I’m still hopeful and thankful. It’s October, the best month of the year! We might not have an oven, but we’re not going hungry. My husband and I aren’t perfect at loving each other, but we DO love each other. My kids aren’t angels, but they’re growing and learning. And I’m not tired, I’m happy.

That’s a big deal.

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Day 2

I know I’m going to adore our new kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom, but I have to admit it, I’m really enjoying having a smaller house for a time.

In order to remodel we had to downsize by about 30%, and it was actually the 30% that we spent most of our time in. The back half of our house includes a large kitchen, a large laundry room and an enclosed sunporch, which my husband uses as an office. All the kids’ toys were in the laundry room since it’s so big (and we could close the door at the end of the day if we didn’t want to clean it up). And I often did my graphic design work from the kitchen table so as to be close when the kids started yelling about something, as kids do.

So now that all of that is quarantined, we find ourselves in much closer quarters elsewhere. The dining room table starts out as classy breakfast space and then, quickly cleaned, turns into the kids’ new toy playground. Yesterday afternoon my husband and daughter played with her ponies on the couch while he also watched the Penn State game on mute and I read a magazine, all in the same room.  Last night our whole family was in the bathroom for 45 minutes, kids playing in the bath while my husband and I did dishes, our clothes-drying rack housing both swimsuits and plates (I knew there was a reason that bathroom is too big).

And with all of this what I’m noticing is not the heated jostle for space that I expected but a kindness, a consideration, even a rise in cuddliness and connection amongst our family (especially the guys).

My son, August, has never been the cuddly sort. Not even as a baby. But I have noticed in the past that he has a lot more patience with himself and is prone to laugh a lot more when he’s gotten some physical affection (hugs and kisses, hair ruffles and smiles) from me. He never initiates it like my daughter does, but, man, does he respond. And in close quarters, those things are happening much more.

I also suspect that without a third of our house to clean and travel through to get from one place to another we’re actually getting more time back, which is kind of funny to think about. If you have a bigger house you have to walk a lot more. It takes 15 steps to put something away instead of 3. Right now I can break down recycling boxes, boil water for tea, get juice from the fridge, and use the microwave by taking only one step in any direction. I’m saving so much time!

So, again, I look forward to the new stuff (a kitchen floor that’s not sinking into the ground, cabinets that aren’t falling apart, walls that don’t leak heat in the winter, and another toilet, THANK GOD for another toilet!) but I’m also enjoying the hidden blessings of togetherness amongst the mess.

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Day 1

I’m curious what my grandmothers would think of me standing over a makeshift sink washing dishes by hand in the bathroom, enjoying every second of this almost-forgotten, ancient, stereotypically-female task. My grandmothers, long gone now, did this every day, probably 3-6 times a day, while in my family unit my husband usually handles it. And, now that he and I have an agreed-upon system (he empties the dishwasher in the morning, I fill it back up throughout the day, he does the final touches at night), I can look back over almost a decade of being together and laugh at us; experts say that the #1 cause of fighting amongst couples is finances, but for us it’s been dishes.

I’m doing dishes in the bathroom because as of this week we are remodeling our kitchen, and laundry room, and adding a second bathroom, which means that our current bathroom is the only room in the house with running water. The remodel is projected to take a month, but I’m telling myself to expect a finished product by Christmas, just in case.

And I should say we “had” the agreed upon system for dishes. Now, without a dishwasher, it’s possible that we’re starting over at square 1. Or square -2. It’s possible that we are plunging back a couple generations, back to my grandmother’s time of being without the handy dandy machines that make it so possible to do chores quickly,  and it does make me wonder whether I’ll end up doing all the dishes myself (along with putting the kids to bed and other supposedly matronly tasks) or whether we’ll deviate from older gender roles and come up with our own system, tailor made to fit the new needs of now. Either way, I’m also curious whether I’ll enjoy it or chafe against it. Because one thing’s for certain: if the dishes are going to take longer then we’re going to have to slow down on everything else.

If someone has to spend an hour doing dishes every night, then maybe my husband and I will cut out our tv time and listen to music instead. Maybe I’ll wash and he’ll dry or we’ll take turns, and we’ll just shoot the breeze all fall, dreaming of things to come and reminiscing about what has passed. Maybe we’ll rock-paper-scissors for who gets dishes and who gets quiet time, but regardless of what we do, I imagine my grandmothers will be smiling if we continue to learn how to do it together.

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