Don’t Encourage Me!

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.

home improvement pantry cupboard

Mid-project, puttying and sanding the holes

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.

home improvement pantry cupboard

The finished product

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!

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  1. When we moved into our home almost 6 years ago, Steve told me that he would have our unfinsihed basement finished before Christmas. Six years later and we are almost there. In the past few months we have installed new floors, mudded and taped the entire basement, finsihed the ceiling, installed insulation, moved walls. Yet to come is installing a new fireplace, tiling the bathroonm floor, and putting the finishing touches on all our new living space.

    It’s been a long time coming, but I really enjoy seeing the progress and I know I am going to really love when the snow is falling and we have a warm fireplace to lay infront of.
    Heather’s last post … Girl TimeMy Profile

    • It sounds like you have a better approach to home improvement than I do. I don’t enjoy it AT ALL – it just stresses me out! I do enjoy the finished product, though.

  2. I like to break things down to the smallest task possible and take a break when I’ve reached my “goal”. Clean a drawer, have a snack. Clean the next drawer, take a step outside. And whatever timeline I have in mind, double, no, triple it. Nothing is ever done on time!

  3. Wow, parallel lives! This week I have undertaken a garden project – a renovation if you will. Of course I chose a very hot day to start. Of course I knew very little of what I was doing. There I was, sitting on the ground, sweat literally dripping off my nose, sobbing because things weren’t coming together the way I saw them in my head. My oldest daughter came out at that moment, put her arm around me and said, “You’re doing a good job Mum. This is starting to look really good. You’re a good gardener,” (which of course made me cry harder). I realized I needed to take a break and rethink things. After a two hour nap on the couch, and then lying awake in the middle of the night thinking about it, I figured things out. I’m happy to say that after three long days my project is finished and I am very proud of what I did (even if it doesn’t look 100% like it did in my head).
    christy’s last post … Time for a Tune UpMy Profile

  4. Our home reno, which involved exterior painting, a new first floor (for our coo-owneres to livein), a new kitchen from studs to finished product (all done by us) and a two bathrooms nearly put me over the edge. We had to live at my father-in-law’s for 4 months. Most stressful thing we’ve ever done.

    Know that it could be worse!
    harriet Fancott’s last post … Vignette: BlindsidedMy Profile

    • Oh, I do know that it could be worse. I also know that this will get worse. I’m going to be out of my bedroom for some length of time, so there’s darker days ahead. Still, none of that compares to my friend who’s been living through years of ongoing renovation on her East Van heritage home. It’s a wonder she hasn’t run away screaming, in my books.

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