• The Piquant Storyteller

Becoming Your Parents

No one ever wants to become their parents. That's why in movies, people gasp in horror at the realization. "Ack! I've become my mother!" Cue foreboding music.

I grew up with two OCD parents. That's right. Both of my parents were completely neurotic in their own way. I didn't stand a chance. The perfectionism gene runs deep. My husband is a self-described "lazy perfectionist." He wants things to be perfect but when it comes down to it, he isn't always interested in perfecting mistakes. Good enough is his mantra. This causes my heart to race.

We live in a newly constructed spec home. This means the floor plan, lot, and finishes were chosen before it was put on the market. We were able to choose the kitchen island. I could have had breakfast bar seating at the expense of a cooktop range in the island. Or I could have a blank slate with no countertop overhang. I chose the blank slate. My only choice was a compromise.

As we paint and build to make the home our own, my perfectionism often gets in the way. My husband had built a floating cabinet in the bonus/media room. Unfortunately the cabinet came to be before we painted the walls. Contractor grade paint is the worst. I don't believe we are messy people as much as the paint scuffs if you look at it wrong.

Painting is like waving a magic wand over the discolored spots. Bibbidi bobbidi boo and the wall suddenly becomes new all with the roll of a fresh coat of paint. It's quite therapeutic actually. Well, like I mentioned, we had a floating cabinet in the room making painting underneath a bit of a challenge.

The cabinet floats about a foot or so off the floor. I was out of breath just taping the short sides. While I technically could fit underneath the cabinet, I had little mobility. Taping the baseboards proved to be an insurmountable task. I had no problem calling my 13 year old in to help. He has the best work ethic of my three kids and he seems the most appreciative of my inherited neurosis. It helps that he is skinny enough to fit in tight spots while having his own can-do attitude.

This is the kid who gets mad if his dad mows the lawn first. Over the summer we were securing our new gazebo onto the deck by bolting the baseplates through the deck into blocks of pressure treated wood underneath. We needed someone small enough and young enough to lay in the gravel underneath the deck while holding the blocks in place. The job also required some degree of hand-eye coordination, which is why I was standing around looking cute more than I was effectively pretending to look helpful.

In my defense, some of those corners were trickier than others. The back and forth between my husband and our son would start out calm before escalating into frustrated growling from below. We would offer to do it for him which only made him more upset. That boy has always been negative persistence in the flesh. You cannot tell him no or that he can't do something because he takes it as a personal challenge. It's a maddening trait in a toddler but quite commendable in older children.

Such was the case with the painting. He taped as best he could in the small space. Then he grabbed the paint roller and practiced rolling the inches of wall to see if it would fit. Satisfied, he was ready to roll with paint. I couldn't let him do it all though. He agreed to let me paint the small sections of wall under the sides of the cabinet. But given my middle aged motherly mass … it really did make more sense for my kid to do the back wall.

Bless his heart, he did his best. He suffers from the same dogged desire to achieve as I do. We both cursed the tight corners that required a paintbrush. And we both had to sigh and let it go since those tight corners that eluded paint were closest to the cabinet and not likely to be seen unless someone was lying on the floor gazing up at the underbelly of the cabinet.

It does sting a bit to hear both my husband and son independently say, "No one will notice the mistakes. The pets go underneath." I don't want to be grateful for a contingency plan. I know the stuffed pets live under the cabinet. I just want it to be perfect behind them.

My husband and I pulled the tape and the plastic and the wall doesn't look half bad for not being perfect. I helped him put the doors on the cabinet. It looks like we had a few too many Diet Cokes. It's okay. We know how to adjust the doors to appear more level. I still need to paint the doors. I was all excited about it until I learned they still require more sanding. That's when I make peace with the country chic look that is all the rage these days. There's always another day.

Sometimes you have to quit. I think even my parents eventually walked away from projects ready to strive for perfection another day. Becoming your parents isn't always a bad thing. That's what I plan on telling my kids when they realize I have rubbed off on them more than they thought!


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