Survival Mode

KathyWell, here we are in Week 5 of our bathroom renovation project. Five weeks of workers in and out of the house, of pounding and drills and dust. Last month, I optimistically put “Bathrooms Done!” on the calendar for next Monday. A couple weeks ago I changed it to “Bathrooms Done?” Now I’m thinking of updating it to “HAHAHAHA Yeah Right.”

Remodeling projects, it turns out, are yet another chance for me to practice being flexible, to remember that nothing ever really goes as planned. Of course they’ve gotten behind schedule. Of course the electrician says he’ll come at 8 AM and then never shows up. Of course the water gets shut off right when you arrive home with a tired kiddo who really needs lunch.

As I sat in the family room (AKA my makeshift office) trying to work but listening with one ear for the sound of a van pulling up out front, I had a flashback to Doodlebug’s baby days. Back then, I never knew when my focus would be broken either, if naptime would last three hours or forty minutes. I never knew if I had a nice chunk of writing time coming to me or an afternoon of soothing a tired girl who’d woken up before she was ready.

And I realized that, during this renovation, I’ve been drawing on some of the same strategies I used back then. For a couple of years I was lucky enough to have my mom come and stay with Doodlebug one day a week. I would head to the library with my laptop and enjoy the peace, quiet, and chunks of uninterrupted time. I’ve been doing the same thing off and on for the past month, at the same library, while iDad holds down the fort at home. It’s not my usual routine, but I remember it well enough, and that feels good.

One of my mantras these days is “Just get your two hours.” Two hours of work a day seems to be the bare minimum I need to feel like I’m moving forward, and I’ve been trying to stick to that. If I get more time, fantastic. But if not I’m trying not to beat myself up about it. This also takes me back to the little kid days when I would use Doodlebug’s preschool time for writing. It only ever ended up being about two hours in one go, but it was something. And something is better than nothing.

And, as I keep reminding myself, not writing does not = nothing. It’s just . . . something else. I spent most of Bathroom Week 2 wrangling Doodlebug during spring break, and then Week 3 was spent planning her birthday party. Did I get much writing done? No. Did I get other important family stuff done? Yes. I had that constant struggle for balance when she was younger, too.

Maybe the most important thing about this experience, though, is that it’s reminded me that those days are gone. The days of the baby monitor and nap schedules and preschool mornings—that’s not my life anymore.

Things DO change. That’s so hard to remember when you’re in survival mode, but it’s true. I’m not going to promise that things will get better, because with parenting there always seems to be some new challenge just when you least expect it. But nothing lasts forever.

Even bathroom renovations. I hope.

— Kathy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.