Monday, August 19, 2013

A Caregiving Story

We have lived in our house for 16 years and have raised three kids and countless animals in it.  It is a modest-size home but seemed gigantic to us when we first moved here because we were coming from an apartment.  An apartment which had the girls (who were pretty little at the time) crammed into a room together, literally having to walk on top of their beds to get to the other side of the room.

Walls by Caty and Chris
Once we moved into our own home, we took advantage of being able to paint!

The kids each had their own bedroom but shared a bathroom (which was really fun when they were teenagers). 

Things weren’t perfect but the house was filled with love, laughter, animals and noisy arguments (I told you – things weren’t perfect.)

At some point, the kids wanted to paint the bathroom but couldn’t come to a consensus on a color.  The girls wanted to help paint (Christopher, not so much) so we let them pick a wall and their own color and design.

Wall by Rachel
It was important to me for them to develop their independence as well as their creativity and to   know that hard work gets them what they want. 

The girls got creative: Rach picked a bright orange and then painted green palm trees on her wall; Caty chose a midnight blue with gold stars and the moon sprinkled throughout. Christopher chose a very dark lime green and wanted it simple – no design. He also wanted the smallest wall so he wouldn’t have to paint much.

Christopher obviously didn’t get the memo about hard work.

We had a great time creating the bathroom and it stayed in this hodge-podge of bright colors, not exactly matching, for several years.

The kids are now all in their twenties and have moved out and I finally admitted things can’t stay the same forever.

I did try to keep the bathroom the same and kept finding ways to justify it:

“It makes me happy to remember the kids when they were little.”
“It looks fine to me.”
“I’m not a fan of change.”
“I don’t know if I can tackle the challenge of repainting right now.”

I finally realized things seemed a little off in the bathroom.  It wasn’t as clean as I thought it was. The paint was showing its age. I was starting to wrap my head around the idea of needing a change. I broached the subject with the kids.

They had no qualms about us repainting.  They even seemed to welcome the idea. 

It took a while to make the final decision to repaint and when I did, I told myself I wouldn’t do it all at once. I could take my time to paint – I didn’t want to rush into anything or take on more than I could handle.

My first step was to prepare for the job.  I knew preparation was one of the keys to success.  Before starting, I thought about it for a long time. Is this really what I want to do?  Is Richard able to help even though he has his back problems?

Once I made the decision to repaint and Richard was on board, I dove into it. I decided on the color (Richard had a little bit of input) and I started preparing the room.

I was still determined to take my time and finish the bathroom over several weekends.  I didn’t want to overdo it. I didn’t even know if I could do it all at once.

I set these self-doubts aside and prepped the room with tape.  I created a list of supplies we needed and one Saturday we visited the hardware store. We got everything we needed to do the job. Primer (lots of it!), paint (“Cool as Cucumber”), brushes, pans, and more brushes.

Keeping costs down was important to me since, well, we’re not independently wealthy. I needed to repaint the room without going broke.

Adding accessories
Once I had the paint in my possession, my plan to move slowly with the process was out the window. I wanted to get this room done! My gut was telling me that it would work out and that I was up to the challenge.

I hauled ladders upstairs to the bathroom. I set up a standing fan because I knew I would get hot painting the enclosed room in the middle of summer.  I remembered my water because I knew it was important to take care of my needs while painting. 

Putting on the primer was the most time-consuming but it was worth the effort. While I climbed onto the ladder and stepped onto the counter I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I’m not as young as the last time I painted nor am I in very good shape but I can still maneuver my way to the far reaches of the bathroom ceiling corners.

I was extra cautious though because I knew I couldn’t afford to hurt myself. Who would finish the job if I couldn’t? 

Of course, things never go as planned so there were times I was cranky because I was doing too much or being critical of myself of how I was painting. 

Thankfully, I had Richard to help me.
Happy with the "new" room

He gave me advice (when I asked for it), ran back to the store for more brushes and helped take care of the other things around the house I was neglecting.

There were plenty of things I didn’t have time for while painting and never really felt like I was giving one hundred percent to anything while tackling the bathroom. Even while painting, I thought my attention should be elsewhere.

But I was driven to finish the job.

I wanted this bathroom to look the best it possibly could. I didn’t want to look back and have any regrets about how I recreated this small space of our home into what I had envisioned and hoped for.

I wanted to make this bathroom the best it could be.

When I finished painting, I had great fun putting the finishing touches on the room: pulling shelving and artwork from other parts of the house to both save costs and to make the most of what we already had.

Once I was finished, I saw there were touch-ups that needed to be made and a few imperfections in my work but I knew I had the tools to fix these problems and tried to not let these color my overall positive view of my painting experience.

I may have my moments of frustration while painting but am thrilled with the end result and am confident I made the right decision to paint. The bathroom looks wonderful and I know that underneath the new paint are years of memories of the kids when they were little. 

Those memories will always be a part of the bathroom and of me - no matter how much primer I had to use! 


Anonymous said...

It always feels good to see the finish product. Especially on something that is such a labor of love. Bravo! Love the color, too. Very calming color.

bccmee said...

How interesting to hear your thought processes. I love this bit: "underneath the new paint are years of memories of the kids when they were little." Your bathroom turned out great!