Kids and dogs make home improvement so laborious. In the last ten years, our small-but-perfectly formed little house has … well, declined. You know the kind of thing. The scuff marks by the front door – the kind of marks that would’ve sent me hurling into a cycle of shame and embarrassment pre-motherhood – now get darker and darker, until the hallway looks more like a railway tunnel than the entrance to a (mostly) habitable home. The lounge carpet – originally only tolerated until we could lay oak flooring, darling – today looks less endless sky blue, and more cesspool blue.
There was a time I cared about all this stuff.
That time is not now.
We made some in-roads a couple of months back – painted the hall, stairs and landing, sanded and repainted skirting boards, that sort of thing – but we lost focus, and our efforts tailed off. M, as incredible as he is, hates DIY. I ask for help with something, and he’ll usually respond by throwing his arms around a bit and declaring in clipped tones that he’ll DEFINITELY fuck it up – usually before he’s even lifted a screwdriver. I wonder sometimes if he deliberately does things half-assed in the vain hope that I’ll stop asking.
Note to husband: I WON’T STOP ASKING.
Anyway, internally I do much of the painting; I’m faster, neater and kind of enjoy the slow, steady repetition of painting walls. This time, however, M’s uncharacteristically enthusiastic (he says turning 40 has propelled him, kicking and screaming, into being a Grown Up), so we’re tidying up the front lawn – well, the front of house, to be precise. So far, I’ve sanded and repainting our (pitiful) front door and frame, whereas M did the same for the downstairs windows (yes, we have wooden frames. Thankfully they’re still in reasonable condition, but probably need to be replaced soon). We’ve also repainted the garage door, chopped down the bulk of the (dead) palm to reinvigorate the healthy shoots at it’s foot, laid new gravel – the path membrane was poking through in places – and painted the outside lantern.
I know; we don’t have much money. But it’s taken elbow grease, sunburned shoulders and less than £100 to uplift everything, including the new gravel, and the house looks so much better as a result. And I feel better. I like to think that I’m good at lying around the house channel-hopping, but truth is, I like having things to do. It’s good for me – my bones, my brain, my soul.
STOP PRESS: William and Kate have had a baby boy! I have little-to-no time for the royal family as a general rule, but I have to admit: I’m not immune to happy baby news. An eight pounder, too. Ouch.