For the past few (or…five) winters, my husband and I have talked about making the improvements to our house in order to put it on the market. We have a considerable amount of projects to start before we can even think about breaking even on this deal. (Yay economy!) The sheer thought of where to start is overwhelming and neither of us does overwhelming very well. Our refrain has been, “As soon as spring comes and our schedule calms down, we’ll get started on the kitchen.” Or bathroom. Or other bathroom. Or roof…

It’s safe to say that spring has arrived. Only this time, we are actually making forward progress. Motivated by plummeting housing prices in our area and a school system going down the drain, we started demolishing our kitchen in pieces a few weeks ago.

ACK! Those cabinets!  Those counters!  Call 9-11! Or HGTV!

ACK! Those cabinets! Those counters! Call 9-1-1! Or HGTV!

I’m not writing this to give you the play by play of our home renovations, or how we’re addicted to and jealous of all the HGTV shows.  I’m writing to tell you that for these two working parents, this renovation shit is hard. Sure, it’s grueling on both of our middle-aged bodies and killer on the checkbook, but the one who’s really suffering is my daughter.

We are weekend warriors. We come home every weeknight from work, exhausted, to tackle the evening routine of dinner, homework, bed. Then it’s crash time for Mom and Dad. So the only stretches of time to get any of the Do-It-Yourself stuff done (and it’s ALL Do-It-Yourself) is from sunrise on Saturday to sunset on Sunday.

As any working parent can tell you, the weekend is when all the fun is supposed to happen. It’s the time you use to ease your guilt spend quality time with your kid. It’s when the trips to the park or the hikes in the woods happen. The swimming lessons and the art projects involving paint and glitter only go down on weekends, amiright??

Take a break! Take a hike! Photo: K. Stevenson

Take a break! Take a hike!
Photo: K. Stevenson

There are stretches of time on any given Saturday or Sunday that my kid is stuck inside playing by herself while Mom and Dad work on something in the garage. It’s heartbreaking, but what can you do? These are the times when, at bedtime, she gets melancholy and tells me she wishes she had a “sibling” and why didn’t we have another kid for her to play with? If you need a knife, here, let me pull this one out of my heart for you.

I wish I could tell her to just be a little more patient for just a little while longer. It won’t always be like this. Well, I could tell her that, but she wouldn’t understand. Telling her it’s for the “greater good” isn’t gonna fly with an almost 7-year old.   The plan is for us to fix this place, sell it and make some money, and move to a better school system where she will get a great education, make lots of friends, get into an Ivy League school and have a wonderfully successful and happy life.

And all that hinges on these house projects.
talkinh about greater good

As the mom, I’m trying to hold it all together. To keep both sides of this “house project/weekend fun” scale balanced. That means I’m running between the garage, the kitchen, and living room to play with my daughter (or at least checking to make sure she’s not setting anything on fire). I’m not “strong like bull” like my husband. He gets the job done, even if the job sucks. I’m a hard worker, as long as I know what the work is. But I am on-call for any Zoey emergencies, such as the Jessie she was watching On Demand is over.  All my projects get interrupted a thousand times by the sound of my name being called.  “MA-OM!!” It’s probably safer if I do the little stuff that my husband doesn’t have time for, like painting trim and installing cabinet organizers. It all has to get done.

So for the foreseeable future, this is our life. Trying to find the balance, flip this house and not lose our sanity in the process. I’ll be trying to squeeze the fun in when I can. And hopefully, when we get to the other side, we’ll all reap the benefits; that we’ve done what we could for the “greater good.”