Our house is in shambles.
Walls have been knocked down, studs revealed, old wiring uncovered. The mysterious pipe in the pantry, well, turns out that is a gas line. “We wondered about that,” I laugh with my contractors as we pivot to deal with the house’s secrets now laid bare.
We are renovating and adding on, squeezing our family of five (plus two pets) into an even smaller footprint for a time. A little over a year ago, we lounged in 2500 square feet; now, we are getting along just fine in about 1000. Though I’ll admit, I am quite grateful for in-person learning and my husband’s special dispensation to work in the office. Still, I marvel at the ability of humans to adapt. Perhaps we don’t need all that we think we need?
Our refrigerator is within reach of the person seated at the end of the dining table. “Pass the butter” has taken on a whole new meaning. Our main walkway involves squeezing between people hunched over their plastic bowls and spoons and the piano that is wedged under the window. Our cat thinks the new construction is his personal playground. Our dog has made friends with all of the specialty subcontractors, from the electricians to the framing crew.
All this discomfort, inconvenience, and mess makes me oddly excited. You see, I know what is coming in a few months. A more spacious, comfortable, well-planned home for our family, where we can welcome friends and neighbors. I find it shockingly easy to smile and laugh at the chaos and noise because I know what lies ahead.
Our children are surrounded by inconvenience. Their possessions are in storage. Two are sharing a room. No one, including myself, really knows where anything is right now. Plastic tarps are hanging everywhere, so we “zipper” through from one space to the next. We are crowded, cramped, crazy. Our life is under construction, and at times, it is difficult. Nothing is easy. But my husband and I continually remind them of the end goal—a new, shining, spacious home.
We are giving them hope. Reconstruction and demolition and rebuilding and renovation are hard work. None of those are comfortable to live through. I know…that’s what I’m living through now. This past year has been full of destruction and chaos, and it is impossible to see some shining goal at the end of all of this. But our home renovation has given my husband and me the opportunity to show our children that something good and lovely can come out of chaos.
There has been much talk of our children being “resilient” after this year. Perhaps. If we mean that they will be able to understand that life is hard. It is full of suffering and pain and the unpredictable. If we mean that we are not in control like we tend to think we are. If we mean that our choices still matter, that beauty can emerge from ashes, that there is hope.