Stress can make any problem, no matter how small, seem like the biggest tragedy in the history of tragedies. There have been several points during our kitchen remodel where I went from extremely positive about the process, to a state of total despair in a days time. My expectations are often idealistic when it comes to something I am personally pursuing. If someone else is in charge of a project, I become more realistic (or pessimistic, really) with my expectations. It’s easier to trust yourself than to trust someone else with something you care about. So when our kitchen renovation started, other people messed up my timeline and my carefully thought out plans. But when dealing with others, miscommunication, over-promising and the eventual state of disappointment happen. I am feeling a little deflated, even though I know there’s
not much nothing I can do about it. And there were a good several days, nay weeks, of emotional upheaval due to my dashed expectations.
It was a Saturday evening. The hubs and I just spent the entire day cleaning the house, running errands to get more renovation materials and organizing our food and stuffs to be more accessible in the future weeks of our remodel. We’d picked up everything on our list earlier that day, from paint brushes to a trusty ceiling scraper, and we left Home Depot with a satisfied smile and pockets no lighter than when we’d entered.* Little did we know, after we got home, things would begin to unravel. First, Lowe’s and Home Depot notified us that instead of the usual 2-3 week wait for the install of our counter tops, it would be 4-6 weeks due to this being the “busy season” and their “lack of staff.” This wait was just for the install and did not include having someone come out and measure. For the measuring (or “templating” as the pros would say) that would add another week of overall wait time, making it a lovely 5-7 weeks before we would get our counter tops.
Suddenly, our little home project that we’d hoped to complete by late July quickly catapulted into August.
Then, our tape and texture guy (who had previously fixed a downstairs wall in our house for cheap cheap cheap!) let us know that he couldn’t help us like he’d planned. He’s no longer in the drywall business as he drives truck now, so he’s hardly ever in town. However, he said he’d probably be available for us over the fourth of July weekend. We were psyched and planned everything around having the house ready for him to tape and texture that weekend. About a week out from when he said he’d be in town, he let us know that he wasn’t going to have the time to do the job like he thought he would. Now we needed to find another drywall guy and in the middle of “busy season.”
Mr. Fi discovered that scraping our popcorn ceiling wasn’t as simple in execution as in concept. While many of the sites he read explained how easy it is removing the popcorn, they often left out that many of the ceilings done before 1985 contain asbestos. Though many contractors or DIYers said “who cares? If the popcorn is wet enough when you scrape, no asbestos should release,” there were plenty of others that said, “It’s a bad idea. DO.NOT.DO.IT.” So we read and read and decided that although we hate this particular popcorn, there’s a good chance this isn’t our “forever home,” so better to not risk future health issues for current, cosmetic gratification.
Over the next few weeks more things would go wrong. Our Ready-to-Assemble cabinets continually gave us problems due to bad instructions, lack of carpentry ability and the worst painting experience to date. Our flooring purchase would turn into a bigger miscommunication than we could ever imagine. The sub-floor would show it’s unevenness and our attempts to smooth it would only slightly hide the problem. Russell would get all kinds of sick. A cabinet being built resembled a closet and not a cabinet and would be torn down as quickly as it went up. Our electrical maze continues because our contractor is extremely busy, and we are a side project in his insane schedule.
The list goes on, and I will go into more detail on these mishaps later. For now, all you need to know is this: Home renovation is exhausting, unpredictable, patience-testing, and revealing – not only showing the inside of your home, but the inside of who you are and how you react to stressful situations.
Mr. Fi and I have learned a lot about remodeling, fixing things and negotiating with people over the last few weeks. Beyond that, we’ve also learned about ourselves and our marriage. We’ve learned patience is not something we’re inherently good at. And when to bring up a problem and how based on how the other person’s personality will process that information.
We’ve learned to share duties and make time for us, even if it means not hitting our ideal deadlines. But most importantly, we know to lean on each other, no matter how angry or tired or downright frustrated this remodel makes us. Yes, even if we’re in the middle of a fight about why one of us isn’t washing the dishes now that we have no dishwasher while the other one is still cooking…not naming any names…could be anyone…
While my brain is still fighting with idealism and learning to cope with the setbacks and let-downs of others, I’m glad I have someone here to help me through it all. Stress is manageable when you have someone else pulling you back up and bringing you back to reality. A kitchen remodel isn’t the be-all, end-all of our existence. In case where we’re both stressing out, and neither of us feels like being the “beacon of positivity,” there’s always solace in knowing that someone else is right where you are. Deep in that dark pit of self-deprecation that stems from a botched project (here’s lookin’ at you, Gen Y Finance Guy). Misery loves company, right? Luckily, I love the company of my husband.
How do you fight idealism in your life? Any advice for keeping priorities straight and stress at bay?
*We used our handy-dandy, tax-refund gift card that we received from H&R block to buy our supplies. There was a special going on at the time that we did our taxes where you could get an extra 10% back if you got a portion of your return on a gift card. Since we knew we would be doing the remodel, it was a no-brainer to get some extra mullah while designating part of the return to future purchases at The Home Depot.