A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.
-General George S. Patton
A quote like that can only mean one thing is afoot Chez Harlot, and that thing, my stalwart friends, is my old nemesis… home renovation. I’ve spoken before about the fact that my house has, to be rather frank – some problems. It’s a tiny Victorian semi, 120 years old, so some things about it are a given, and It’s about a thousand times better than when we came to live in it, when there was a hole in the kitchen wall that went to the outside and allowed every single raccoon in the neighbourhood to use this building as their local whorehouse/crackden -but it wouldn’t be very hard to upgrade a family home past that, if you know what I mean. An eviction notice to any mammals who weren’t us – coupled with a piece of plywood and a few nails made us feel like we were living like royalty. We’ve got new walls and some of that fancy “insulation” in most of the house now, the kitchen was redone 8 years ago, the piece of crap lean-to on the back of the house became my office, we redid our bedroom, laid new floors in the downstairs… It’s very slow going, but we get there.
Now, this wee house is only a 3 bedroom and they aren’t big bedrooms, so Meg and Sam have shared for years, and Amanda had her own room. Amanda moved out recently (months ago, actually, but I didn’t want to mention it in case she wanted to come home – I didn’t want her to have to ‘fess up to the blog that she had changed her mind) she’s happy, 19, in her second year of college and doing just fine, and as much as sometimes I wish she would come back… I don’t think she’s going to.
I know I should be happy about that, motherhood is, after all – about putting yourself out of business and creating functioning humans who do leave you if you do it right, and most days I am thrilled that she’s moving along properly, because we were totally starting to drive each other crazy, and she’s not quite out in the big bad world, since she’s moved in with my mother – who is closer to the college and work, and is making for an excellent intermediate step towards total and complete independence. (It has taken me a while to wrap my head around the idea that moving in with my mother is a step towards independence – since for me it was moving away from the same woman.. but I’m learning. My mother is a very different grandmother than she was a parent – the proof of this being that she has given my children cream soda floats, which when I was growing up were treated as the nutritional equivalent of heroin and turned up with about the same frequency.. but I digress.)
In any case, Amanda moved out and I just let her room sit there. I moved nothing. I didn’t even close the door. Her room sat there (since March, if you must know) and her sisters (still crowded into their one wee space) eyed this room with the focus of vultures circling a carcass – and they had absolutely no regard for my emotional process. They argued and dreamed continually about the day that they would no longer share a room, and the room taunted them. I couldn’t commit. I don’t know why it was hard for me, but it felt unfaithful to Amanda, who was understandably hesitant to see her room in our home wiped from the earth – and so the room still sat there.
Eventually, Amanda took most of her stuff out, and Megan started talking about just taking the room. A guerilla move. Just waltzing in there and installing her things like a squatter and that would be that.. and while she was talking about usurping property right out from under me, that’s when I woke up and smelled the coffee. Our house was too tiny to have a room unused, and Meg should be using it. It wasn’t reasonable to hold a room for the possibility that an adult child who was totally old enough to be out of it would want to come back, and waiting for it to feel right, or for it to be perfect just wasn’t going to happen. Amanda was absolutely not going to say “Yeah man, give my sister my room, I don’t need a safety net, I’m sure I’ll never, ever need my mother again.” (or at least she was never going to say it like she meant it.) I was never going to feel like I should close that door on her. I was never going to want to paint over the yellow daisies I painted on the walls for Amanda when she was 14. I was never going to want to see the loft bed torn down, even though there isn’t anybody in this house who’s short enough to sleep in it anymore. It was never going to be perfect. It was never going to feel right…
but it is time, and now while the room is empty is the right time to rip down the loft bed, paint and tidy up the room and make it Meg’s. Time marches, and we renovate in it’s wake.
So that’s what we’re doing.