The Unfinished Basement is Not Worth Examining

So I’m just emptying the dishwasher this morning and number one son runs out the the kitchen and says:

“Mom! I just saw this guy on TV! He says he can finish your basement!”

“Oh yeah?”

My mind is spinning. I start to do the math. Local news is on. Commercial jingles ring. TiVo has made my children Commercial-illiterate.  (good) Son thinks man on remodel commercial is talking to him!

“Yeah!” he says excited, but matter-of-fact. “He can put in walls and floors and toys and even a tree!”

“A tree!?”

“Not the big kind, Mom. Just the plant kind.”

It’s easy to cast your eyes away from so-called “failures” when you live with them everyday.Kids are great at reminding us of them in so many hilarious ways.

OK, so yes, I suppose we have some excuses for not getting our projects done around here…oh yeah, like having four new people coming to live with us and having to rearrange every part of our life to make room for them.

The hardest part of that is seeing the death of our “free” time. This year we did in fact get the garden put in again (more on that next post), but our house is literally backlog of unfinished projects that make living here an often less-than-fulfilling experience for Colin and I. Take a walk around and you can see where the time dried up.

The regret at this unfinished life has its own happy countenance.

Yes, of course we love running around with the family to soccer and swimming lessons, to grocery stores and baseball. But as a result, Colin can’t spend a full day installing drywall or skylights. And, of course sitting together with our feet in the sandbox is exactly what is needed right now… it just means one or even two less pairs of hands to clear out the mess at the back of the garage,  to tend to the overgrowth around the pine trees, or to finish the half-done basement.

And, yes, we do get the kids involved in some of the work. They helped me get the garden in this year. But nail guns aren’t quite their speed yet.

Suffice to say, the kids don’t go into the magical mystery basement— it’s just the doorway that mom and dad disappear into occasionally to bring up laundry or tools. But they know about it. They can peek down there and see the workbench mess and the half-completed walls. And while we keep most things under control in the rest of the house, it’s telling that behind this door (and one upstairs too!) Colin and I stash and hide our piles of messy unfinished business.

It reflects the diabolical impact their arrival had on our lives 14 months ago.  But it also reminds me, too, of all the things we are willing to put aside to just spend an hour, a day, a week, a year with them. Doing whatever.

(Overheard)

Daughter 2: What can the man build down there???

Son: Yeah, even a pool, and couches, and windows, and a tank!

  4 comments for “The Unfinished Basement is Not Worth Examining

  1. J, Connecticut
    May 26, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Oooooh, this made me laugh! We had one of those basements too. It was only because a falling tree sent us into the abyss during a hailstorm, scaring the crap out of the twins, that we ever found the time (and the remodel man) to fix the basement. But the rest of the house . . . oh, well. I like my kids more than housework any day. Well, almost, except when I hide in plain sight doing the dishes.

  2. Colin
    May 26, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    I keep trying to convince myself that if I just do an hour of work a day on the basement I could get so much done. When the time for that hour comes (usually after 9pm on a weekday), I have *absolutely* no desire to hang drywall. Sigh.

  3. May 26, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    We have a Silence of the Lambs basement. Dirt floor and all. Really creepy. And of course your blog post resonated with me for various other reasons as well. Every single closet in the house (okay, there are only about three) is stuffed to the brim and threatening to burst forth like something out of a cartoon. I also have a stack of empty photo albums, but the pictures are still on my hard drive. Yes, I am available for baseball and soccer and hikes, and since school let out I have been baking bread and granola again, but the weight of unfinished projects grows heavier. And a dirty bathroom awaits. . . .

  4. May 27, 2010 at 8:46 am

    I think it’s great how you and Colin put your personal lives aside, in some ways, to input into four young lives. I’m sure the benefits are mutual – though many days it must not feel that way.

    Many times it’s still hard, even after almost 17 years of being a parent. But there are great joys.

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