When my daughter was only four months old we were in the process of building a house. We had a contractor but did a lot of the work ourselves to save money. We would set up the pack-n-play in the room that we were painting or tiling; she would watch with delight and play with a few toys in her
cage–I mean pack-n-play–or just nap in her car seat snuggled in tight with blankets. It was long hours and hard work but worth it in the end. That was nine years ago.
We are currently in the process of finishing our basement into an apartment. It’s been a LONG process of blood, sweat and tears and many curse words along the way. We live in a 1923 bungalow, so just getting permits was a hassle. We hired a contractor, but once again are doing a lot of the work to save money. We figured it’s only 600 square feet, how hard can it be? But here’s the deal, we are no longer as young and energetic as we once were; we have two kids now who are on the go, and life is full. So what were we thinking to take on this large project?!
We are in the grueling last days of finishing this project and although I’ve never run a marathon, I wonder if it’s the same. You start out strong, you know it’s going to be a ton of work but you have what it takes to do it. And then mile 17 hits and you want to die, just crawl off to the side of the road, lie down and call it quits. Maybe if running isn’t striking a chord, think of sleep training or potty training. It NEVER goes according the the plan, it makes you want to pull your hair out, and it’s way messier than you ever imagined. It’s too hard; I’m too tired, and for the love of all that is sacred and holy my 5-year-old wants to help paint. Um, thanks for the sweet offer son, but we intend to rent this space out, so how about another episode of Star Wars instead?
House projects are a lot of work when you don’t have kids, but when you do it’s even crazier. My kids have had more than their fair share of Cup’o Noodle and more screen time than we normally allow in six months in the last month alone. I’m struggling with mommy guilt that many weekends have been full of work instead of play. I’ve been stressed because this project is now eight weeks overdue, and for crying out loud the holidays are upon us. The setbacks have been frustrating and disheartening for sure. I have had many moments where I thought I might lose my ever-loving mind, but the end is near (at least that’s what they keep telling me).
The paint will dry; the imperfections will add originality and charm; the hard work will be worth it, and we will laugh at the memories that were made…eventually. When this is done I will high five my husband because we have made it through another character building experience, and we will go on a real date that doesn’t include Lowe’s or Home Depot. I will hug my kids for being patient and then take them to OMSI to learn something so the brain cells they killed while watching hours upon hours of TV can regenerate. All will return to “normal” and we will hang out those Christmas lights and celebrate the many blessings that we have.
In my experience, building beautiful things–whether it be in ourselves, our children or in a home renovation–is never easy work but it’s always been worth it. Who knew such an ugly space could end up looking so fantastic? Hauling the dirt, carrying load after load of cement out of the basement, and all the sweat and tears actually did turn into something great.
What about you? Have you taken on home renovations with kids? How did you survive it?