Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Half Done Half Bath

Nearly three years ago when our realtor walked us through the main floor of this house, we knew two things. One, that this house was the right one for us. And two, that the half bathroom off the kitchen would need a complete overhaul. The tile floor was broken, the sink stained, and the toilet was rusted in places. The wallpaper had been freshly removed, but much of the glue had remained and the medicine cabinet and light fixtures were old; not charming, just old.

After we bought the house, however, we learned a few more things. We found that the attic needed to be insulated and the heating system needed to be replaced or supplemented. These new findings took priority and sapped all our energies and resources, and so the bathroom had to wait. I made it usable by covering the broken tile with a throw carpet, putting a half shelf over the toilet, and curtains in the window. It was just that, usable. It would buy us time.

But carpet in a bathroom used mostly by little boys is not a good thing, especially when that bathroom is just off the kitchen. I washed that carpet over and over again and yet I was never able to kick the smell completely. It was a gnawing frustration for me, but our attentions never seemed able to focus on it. After completing the insulation and heating jobs, we found other, seemingly more important, home improvement projects that demanded our attention.

So one day recently, when I went to clean that bathroom I just couldn't do it. I couldn't bring myself to wash that carpet or mop that floor one more time. "This floor doesn't need to be cleaned," I thought to myself, "It needs to be smashed up and hauled out of here." And so I went and got a hammer and a crow bar and began ripping it up. I didn't really have a plan for when or how we would fix it up. I just tore it out. Later, Jeremy finished the job, removing both the toilet and the sink. And so it is right at this moment.

Although I did not have any immediate plans for remodeling the bathroom, it felt good just to have gutted it. It went from being a project that needed to be done to a project that was begun, and that felt good. It was a small accomplishment, but I have learned to appreciate every accomplishment. It was a small step, and one without the promise of near future steps, but it was in the right direction. I was satisfied.

If I have learned anything from living always with just a little less than I think our family needs, it is that satisfaction is a choice. It is not something that we should be chasing after. It is right here and it is now. It is the choice to turn away from envy and jealousy and greed. It is the choice to look around and wonder at all that we have been given. It is the choice to be grateful for every good, however small.

That night, as I stood staring through the doorway at the newly gutted bathroom and wondering how best to redesign it and where we'd find the time and money, Jacob came up beside me and wrapped his arm around my hips. "MMmmm..." He said admiringly, "I like it. Are you happy with the new bathroom, Mama?"

"Yes, Jacob," I answered honestly, "Yes I am."


C.M.W. said...

My mom would be asking me, "Are you sure you aren't pregnant?" since pregnancy seems to inspire home demolition urges for me. Good luck with the project ahead!

Mom to Almost Four said...

What a great reminder that contentment is a choice and that doing with, we can still choose contentment.

Kristen said...

So true. Time and time again, I discover the people I know who are happiest and have the most peace in life are those who have less, but are content with what they have.

LYL said...

It was a small accomplishment, but I have learned to appreciate every accomplishment.