There comes a time in every girl’s life —
(or in my case, multiple times)
— when she just has to step away.
When she doesn’t step away, bad things tend to happen. Like irrational outbursts. Family abandonment. And a swift unraveling of the cerebral cortex, resulting in complete mental breakdown and subsequent self-induced lobotomy via overconsumption of petite sirah.
This certainly doesn’t apply to all women. There are those of a rare breed that understands how to keep its cool. And I’ve been trying to learn how to be that way. I have. In fact, I know I used to be one of them until that little thing called “home ownership” happened, and suddenly things like light fixtures and paint colors and, I don’t know, mortgages became this matter of life and death.
I knew I was probably getting close to step away time when Angie called me the other day. Angie is from Australia and therefore has a cool accent which therefore makes it okay for me to say “no worries” without sounding like a poser because I have an actual Australian friend and therefore am very cool and chill by association.
The whole Australian thing also makes her very direct. It’s something to which we Americans aren’t typically accustomed, and while many are easily put-off by hearing, I don’t know, the truth, I find it particularly refreshing.
So our phone conversation went something like —
Angie: How’s the kitchen remodel going?
Me: It’s not.
Angie: What’s up?
Me: Basically, it’s like wading across a football field-sized pool filled with maple syrup while wearing flippers and a weighted wetsuit.
Angie: That sucks.
Me: It’s okay. These things can’t bother me. I’m adopting a zen way of life.
Angie: Yeah, but —
Me: Sssshhh. I’m zen. I refuse to acknowledge the truth you’re about to divulge.
Angie: But Katie. That’s denial. Not zen. There’s a difference.
The truth about the kitchen:
As it stands, I currently have four walls and a ceiling and half of a floor, which is practically an entire room, and for that I should be thankful. It matters not that my home’s every crevasse is filled with a fine coat of white drywall powder. Or that the newly constructed “decorative” soffit overhangs the pantries with the massive forehead slope of an angry caveman.
And I can deal with the fact that what was once supposed to be a simple facelift — some new appliances and a few painted cabinets — has turned into the nearly-full gutting, re-wiring, and re-surfacing of an entire room due to shoddy mid-century electric work, the most stubborn wallpaper in the history of existence, and the possibility of asbestos-filled plaster and lead-filled paint and basically all of the terrifying and probably carcinogenic building materials those crazy Boomers seemed to unwittingly love so much.
So. For a few days, at least, I’m stepping away. I’m letting Justin deal with the contractors for a minute (they seem to respect him more for his adornment of male genitalia, anyway), while I’m in Durham, North Carolina helping Alaina with her two young kids while her husband’s away on business.
And by “helping,” I mean I’m mostly observing from a respectable distance on the sofa with a glass of wine, trying not to get in the way or use language inappropriate for impressionable young ears, and generally garnering an overall sense of respect for what stress looks like through the eyes of a stay-at-home mom.
And hey. At least I’m not feeding her daughter milk shots from Dixie cups.
I may have run away, but also I’ve come so far.
After all, maturity is a matter of knowing our limits and learning to respect them.
At least that’s what I keep telling myself.