I wrote this article after I'd gotten way over my head doing yet another back aching, nail breaking project around my house. By coincidence, a friend of mine who has five children, Mary, was re-tiling her shower enclosure (in her spare time). We moaned to each other, "why do we do it?" This article tries to explain the craziness.
Women who fix things
There are women in this country causing a lot of distress to their families and loved ones. Youíll see them lurking in hardware stores - on the paint aisles, in the lumber yard. They may look like your average gal-next-door, but beware! Theyíre Women Who Fix Things, and most of them are more than a half a bubble off of plumb.
Why? Because women who fix things canít leave well enough alone. Theyíre addicted to home improvement. Other people, such as their husbands, are able to go days and even years with leaky faucets or scratched up tables. But women who fix things hear voices all around the house that whisper: "Fix me, patch me, paint me, remodel me." The only way to escape the voices is to drown Ďem out with a noisy tool, like an electric sander or power drill.
A handy addiction?
You might think a woman with this particular addiction would be handy to have around the house, but think again. Most of these women donít know the first thing about furniture refinishing, plumbing, carpentry, plumb bobs or T-squares -- and a whole lot of other stuff. All we know is that we want to see some improvement, and thereís no way itís going to get done unless we do it ourselves.
Okay, I admit Iím a woman who fixes things. Big time. But out of necessity, not choice. When I see something that needs doing, I approach my husband, and without one iota of consideration, he mumbles, "Itís fine the way it is." Translated, that means he doesnít think thereís any problem, and even if there is a problem, which there isnít, heís not going to fix it under any circumstances, and heís not going to hire someone else to do it, either.
Itís so bad around my house, if I want something done, even if Iím willing to do it myself, I still have to sneak around. Thatís because my husband is always against me doing projects, no matter what they are. He knows from experience that soon there will be tools, dust, broken pieces of plumbing and chunks of sheetrock strewn all over the place. Conversely, the dishes, laundry, vacuuming and any late night activities after the kids are in bed will be neglected. A home cooked meal is out of the question.
Bringin' down the house...
I guess he may have reason to be skeptical. My projects do tend to backfire, Iíll admit. Like the time I decided to sheetrock the garage and turn it into a bonus room. Do you know what it's like to sand sheetrock on a ten foot ceiling? Of course you don't, because you're smart enough to never attempt such a thing. I was covered from head to toe in white dust. I looked the Pillsbury dough boy except where my goggles had been. There was so much dust in the air the fire alarm kept going off. After the fire truck appeared on our dead-end, no-turn-around street for the second time and had to slowly back down to the main road (and fined us $50 for another false alarm), I can't blame my husband for being perturbed. But I start new projects anyway. Thatís what women who fix things do. We delude ourselves into thinking things will be a piece of cake when we ought to know better.
Don't start what you can't finish...
How many times have I said to my husband, "If Iíd known it was going to be this much work, I wouldnít have started it in the first place?" Itís a disguised plea for help. Like maybe heíd roll up his sleeves and pitch in, or if nothing else, hire someone who knew what the heck they were doing to finish the job. But my poor husband, who has begged me never to start another project, snarls back, "You started it, you finish it."
So why do we torture ourselves this way? This sounds nuts, but itís fun to visualize a shiny new countertop, or a refinished kitchen table. What a high! The problem, like with all addictions, is the side effects -- the blackened toe where you dropped the hammer, the fingers with so many little cuts they hurt too much to grip a screwdriver, the headaches and marital conflicts and despair when you realize youíre in way over your head and thereís nothing you can do but keep going because your husband isnít exactly speaking to you anymore and your children have quit asking you to tuck them in because youíre sweaty and cranky and covered in sheetrock mud.
After each project I say Iíll never start another one. Never, ever. But right now our dreary old garage could use painting and that means someone ought to patch the cracks in the sheetrock, and it would be nice to add a couple of new shelves. A piece of cake. All Iíd need to do is buy paint and a little sheetrock mud and then...
Shhh! Donít tell my husband!