There was always plastic in the bathtub.
For as long as I can remember, my dad fought a battle with the bathroom tiles that made the father vs. the furnace in A Christmas Story look like child’s play. There was always something dripping into the basement- always a bucket of grout, a tarp, and the blue waterproof tape at the ready.
It drove me CRAZY. I hated seeing the boxy blue eyesore of taped off tiles every time I stepped into the bathroom. I loathed brushing up against the wet, slimy tarp while I was trying to shampoo.
I made sure the shower curtain was closed before I had friends over, and had nightmares about one of them asking to use the shower (because teenagers always randomly ask to use each other’s showers while hanging out after school).
Why couldn’t he just fix it?!
And then….we bought a house.
And it started….leaking.
I walked into the basement a few months ago and saw the tiniest, cutest little puddle directly under the bathroom. My chest tightened. I had flashbacks of soap scum-streaked plastic getting stuck to my legs and a bucket of grout claiming its own place at the dining room table. I saw tiles falling and blue tape fraying at the edges….
Nope. I was not going to be that person. I went out the next day and bought a bucket of grout, tools, tape and plastic. I watched youtube videos. I was going to fix this the RIGHT way, the FIRST time.
I was NOT going to live in the house with the plastic all over the tub.
And damnit, I didn’t!
Do anything, that is. I didn’t do anything about it.
Sure, I wiped up the puddle every few days, stared at the cracked grout in that one little line of tiles and gave it my best, “Oh I’m gonna fix you, alright. I’m gonna fix you GOOD,” stare.
And then I continued to do nothing.
Well that’s not entirely true.
I got the kids up every morning, got them dressed, fed them, put toothpaste on their toothbrushes, walked the dogs, loaded the dishwasher, folded the laundry, got everyone in the car, went back into the house for all the stuff we forgot, got back in the car, and drove over an hour to work every day.
I brought the kids to their dr/dentist/hair appointments, cleaned bedrooms, read bedtime stories, picked up dog poop from the yard, set the table, cleared the table, folded more laundry, reloaded the dishwasher, pulled toys out of one dog’s mouth and got the other dog unstuck from inside our water cooler stand.
I worked on my freelance writing, listened to stories about everyone’s days, bandaged boo-boos, shoveled snow, put air in that one tire that keeps leaking to 22psi, picked play doh out from the white carpet under the dining room table (not my smartest purchase), and tweezed my eyebrows whenever I had the chance.
And after all of that was done, all I had left was enough energy to wipe up the puddle, glare at the tiles, and call it a day.
And that, I suppose, is why my father couldn’t “just fix it” all those years.
That was why I tangoed with the plastic every time I stepped into the shower.
Because he was too busy focusing his attention where it was needed- to us.
So last night, as I trudged wearily to the basement fridge with today’s packed lunchboxes, and my foot stepped on something wet…I knew.
It was time.
I walked into the bathroom, dried the wall, let out a few choice words, and asked Gracie to hold the plastic still. And I taped it.
That’s right, I taped the tiles, because I don’t have the time to re-grout them.
I am that house.
And I’m ok with that.
I’m tired of trying to be something I’m not, ok?
I’m tired of turning down Coheed & Cambria as I drive up to my house so I don’t seem off-putting to the new, young couple across the street.
I’m tired of pretending it wasn’t me who screamed, “Keep it down, PEOPLE ARE SLEEPING!” at 7:25am a few weeks ago when the kids were playing in the yard instead of getting in the damn car.
I’m tired of moving laundry baskets out of the camera frame when I’m capturing moments.
I’m tired of putting on a bra to walk the dogs so I don’t scare anyone! (Ok, that one might still be necessary).
And I’m tired of cleaning puddles in the basement, so I taped the shower.
That’s right, this is me! I’m raising my “I’m a mess flag” and I’m flying it!
I only pick up the dog poop once a week; I yell at my kids because their ears seem to be missing the sensors that enable people to hear a normal octave; my house is overrun with laundry and smells like wet dog; I never make my bed (because, as I often argue to my husband, we’re just going to get back into it); I ate an entire family-size bag of popcorn while watching Mrs. Maisel the other night; and I have plastic taped onto my bathroom wall.
You know what I don’t have?
A puddle on my basement floor.
And so, my friends, fly those disheveled flags. Fly them high and fly them proud.
We are all keeping the clothes clean, getting the kids where they need to be, and wiping up the puddles.
That’s it. That’s all we can do.
Oh, and thank you, Dad, for teaching me what needs my attention…and what can wait.