Home ownership was not a glorious experience for my husband and I, especially at first. We bought a 100-year old home with lots of “character.” We were not as handy as we thought we were and discovered we were horrendous at working on projects together. We’re both eldest children, always right, and stubborn. Worse yet, our philosophies were oh, so different. I prefer to set aside a certain amount of time to say, paint a room. I will work my arse off (seriously, I will skip meals and bathroom breaks to finish) doing my best to scrape and patch holes but yes, sacrificing some quality to finish up in the allotted time. I hate the mess. I want the project DONE and life to move on. My better half on the other hand, is fine with projects dangling the wind for months under the guise of perfection. This my friends, is a recipe for home-repair hell.
After months of frustration and disillusionment with each other, we finally decided the only way to work was either alone – as in I’ll do my projects and you shut up about them (unless the patio turns out to be laid at a 30 degree incline) or assign one boss.
So, time for husband project number 99. But alas, the weeks went by with little progress. The husband proclaimed there was no time (though oddly there was always time for football or car racing ). He was digging in this time and I would make no headway. He couldn’t be budged. The project would drag on like the 2000 election. I would gladly have done it myself but it involved power tools – not a good fit with my limited skill set. It was over and I had lost.
But the thing was, I was still mad. I hate being mad. I don’t know what to do with it, plus we still had to, you know, live together and speak occasionally. I can’t do martyr and extroverts can’t stick to the silent treatment for very long.
That night I was in our scary basement folding laundry and spied the cat box. But rather than holding smelly cat waste, it suddenly looked different to me. That poop looked like hope. Hope tucked in a plastic box of Fresh Step. I smiled and scooped up a couple of prime lumps and dumped them into my husband’s work boot. My smile grew. A weight was lifted. Angels sang. I had no way of knowing when he would next wear these (judging from recent events, not for a while) but it didn’t matter. I had taken action and I realized then and there, that no matter what conflicts would transpire, there would always be something I could do, even if I couldn’t coerce an apology or action out of the man I love.
He did step in it, so to speak. It was not dramatic and was so far past the incident that it hardly mattered. Of course, that wasn’t the point. I told him what I had done and being the mellow fellow he is, laughed (I wish you could hear his laugh) at my nuttiness. He is not afraid of my antics and I’ve only ever sunk to this level one other time, with the also genius, dish soap in beer glass gag. Prove it wasn’t an accident buddy, prove it.
While admittedly childish, symbolically, it helped me realize that whatever the situation I can always take some action at home or at work rather than accepting things as they are. As I shared this story with my gal pals as a metaphor for taking control it sprouted legs and became a legend. “What?” we’d say to the uniformed, “You don’t know about the cat poop in the shoe?” and shake our heads.