Be Balanced: Pivot, Pivot, Pivot!
A little over a year ago, my husband Dave and I bought a fixer upper, and have been working diligently to make improvements to it ever since. In our first few months there, we renovated the kitchen, laundry room and powder room, replaced most of the flooring on the first floor, repainted several of the downstairs rooms, and had an unsafe stair railing replaced. Whew!
It was around the time the laundry room/powder room project wrapped up in mid-November that it started to hit me that we had an awful lot of big projects left to complete before Baby Keegan arrives in March. The foyer and office needed some fairly extensive drywall repair, and both needed to be painted – no small feat considering the foyer is two stories and the office has a vaulted ceiling. The stair railing needed to be stained, the carpet upstairs needed to be replaced, and the nursery needed to be painted and set up.
True to form, I frantically made to do lists and a timeline, blocking off weekends in our shared Google calendar, while my husband insisted that there was no need to worry and that we would get everything done. If this sounds like a classic depiction of Type A and Type B personalities, that’s because it is. Although trying to understand my husband’s approach can be frustrating, I am sure God knew what he was doing when he paired me with someone who is considerably more chill than I am!
Progress on the house was made – albeit not exactly on my aggressive schedule. The nursery was painted, with Dave and my dad pitching in when I realized climbing up and down a ladder at 28 weeks pregnant was neither easy nor safe. A coat of stain was applied to the railing (have I mentioned dads are the best?), and we hired someone to take care of the painting and patching in the foyer and living room when we realized it was a bigger job than we could reasonably complete ourselves.
Everything was going smoothly… until we noticed the water.
I was in the nursery taking the Christmas candles out of the windows when I realized the carpet underneath the window was damp. A few days and another big, gusty rainstorm later, I noticed that the freshly painted baseboard was discolored. Not long after that – and again, following another big storm – we noticed water spots on the dining room ceiling, which is right below the nursery. Dave started poking around, peeling back carpet and looking in our attic crawl space for the source of the water. At first, we thought it was just an issue with the window, but when Dave began to peel back the siding in preparation for fixing the window, he found water damage that was extensive enough to warrant a call to our homeowner’s insurance.
The verdict so far? The carpet project will have to be put on hold, and the nursery will likely still be under construction when Baby Keegan arrives. Fortunately, babies don’t sleep in their nurseries for several months, but my vision for a fixer upper that is at a good stopping point when the baby arrives – that is, not under construction – is quickly fading into the rearview mirror.
As with so many things in life, there is a balance between effort and ease when trying to accomplish a goal. My natural tendency is to run myself ragged in pursuit of what I want, obsessively organizing it and planning it, only to realize that there are not enough hours in the day – nor do I have the willpower – to keep up with the demanding schedule I’ve created for myself. In doing so, I set myself up for disappointment, and I set myself up to feel bad about myself.
Dave, on the other hand, believes things will get done when they get done. Not that he’s not a hard worker – he is, but he doesn’t push himself if there’s no true deadline in place. He is able to relax even when there is work to be done, confident that it will be completed by the time it needs to be completed. (The way around this, I’ve learned, is to plan a party whenever you really want something to get done. Or have a baby. That works too.)
I think we can learn something from each other’s styles, and move toward an approach to our house (and many other aspects of our lives, I’m sure) that keeps us both sane. Maybe I don’t have to schedule every little thing, or somehow continue to expect that we’ll finish painting an entire room in a weekend when that has literally never happened. Maybe my husband will get a little better about planning (e.g., “This weekend, I am finishing this project. Next weekend, I will finish that one. Here’s what I have to do to make that happen.”).
A happy home isn’t a finished home or a perfect one. It’s a real one, one that is loved and cared for, and one where the people who live there try to be their best selves and work together to achieve common goals. As with so many other things in life, there is a balance between forward momentum and taking the time to appreciate and enjoy all that has been done. In the last few weeks before Baby Keegan arrives, I will be doing my best to kick up my feet and appreciate all of our hard work – even if the nursery is under construction!
P.S. If you’ve never seen the “Pivot, pivot, pivot!” scene from Friends that inspired the title for this blog, do yourself a favor and watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjdB6EeHajY&feature=youtu.be. Gets me every time!