One of the reasons that engineering was not the best fit for me, career-wise, is that I don’t handle adversity well. When I have a big task in front of me, or when things aren’t working the way that I think they should, it pushes all of my buttons. I become irritable and obsessive and just not that much fun to be around. When I was a programmer, dealing with big tasks and broken things was more or less my job description, which wasn’t always great for me or the people around me. Leaving that career behind didn’t remove adversity from my life, however. I still get triggered and become irrational – it just happens a little less often.
Now that we’re embarking on a home renovation journey again, I’m running into many adversity-filled situations. Situations like having to remove all the old drawers and shelves from my pantry cupboard, in order to make way for the new unit. Our old cupboard was one of the things we didn’t tackle when we moved in, and it’s been a constant aggravation. Some of the pull-out drawers refused to pull out. Others pulled out too well, spilling spices all over the lower drawers and floor. The door was constantly falling off its hinges, damaging the wall around it and just generally looking bad.Before I continue, let me own my privilege. Having a less-than-ideal pantry cupboard is very much a first world problem. I realize that there are countless people living far more serious circumstances than drawers that don’t work that well. Having too much food to fit into a suboptimal cupboard is actually not a problem at all, but a sign of affluence. I know that.
Knowing that I really am very lucky didn’t help me earlier this week when I found myself crawling on the floor, struggling to take apart one of the drawers that wouldn’t open. It was hot, the angle was difficult, I was inhaling dust and things weren’t going well. All of my adversity-related buttons were being pushed, and I was becoming irritable and angry. I was half-crying, but that only made it harder to see what I was doing. I knew that I would be glad once I had my new cupboard, but lying on that floor I was just not happy.My poor eight-year-old daughter came along at this moment, and made note of the progress I had made on the cupboard. An upbeat soul at heart, she tried to offer me something by saying, “You’re doing a really good job, Mom!” Hot, sweaty, with blurring vision and covered in dust, I was not in a place where I wanted to be cheered up. I was unhappy, I hated what I was doing, and the suggestion that things were going well just felt patronizing. This is why my less-than-graceful response was to growl, “Don’t encourage me! I don’t want to be encouraged!”
I am happy to report that the drawers and shelves were all removed. The holes in the pantry wall were puttied and sanded, and I gave the cupboard a thoroughly mediocre coat of paint. As of this morning, the new shelves and drawers (these ones actually open!) are installed, and the pretty new door is hung securely on its hinges. It is lovely, and I am very pleased with the result. However, I can also see that this home renovation journey is going to be a long process. I’m going to need to learn how to be a little more gracious the next time that one of my kids tries to tell me I’m good at painting.
Do you have any tips for getting through home improvement with your sanity intact? I could really use them!