How to Decorate without Divorce

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It started with the stairs. Well, really it started with cat urine on the stairs. Seems sweet Molly, our otherwise perfect tortoiseshell, had chosen the landing of our split stair case as an alternate litter box and no amount of scrubbing or enzymes was diminishing the smell. One morning, early this year, I couldn’t stand it for another second and ripped out the carpet with no plan for what would come next.

And so it began–this journey to reclaim my home. It’s been a rough year culminating in the departure of Sailor Boy quickly followed by a sucker punch from a corrupt CPS Worker who filed false accusations against us after her own bad behavior blew up in her face. She got butt hurt after she withheld vital information about the behavior and issues of a teen that she placed with us, said issues became threats in my home, resulting in her facing corrective action. She lied and an investigation was launched. Her claims were all dismissed, but I was injured none the less. Call me crazy, but vindictive malice hurts my feelings. It had already been battling a downward slide, but that’s where I completely lost my footing.

The dark color scheme and big heavy furniture that once felt warm and homey to me, had begun to feel stale and depressing. I’d already begun the process to bring cheer back into our home with brighter colors inspired by the beautiful Mother’s Day drawing Little Guy had given me, but the mission suddenly became more desperate. We had been talking for some time about selling and starting over somewhere else, but switched gears early this year and decided to remake this home–To bloom where we were planted.

Little Guys's Mother's Day gift 2014 that inspired our new decor.

Little Guys’s Mother’s Day gift 2014 that inspired our new decor.


Not long after I tore out the carpet, we built garden boxes and a cute little picket fence. I started painting everything. I’ve been walking around with glue and paint in my hair for months. I began living on Pinterest and started to believe we could do anything, would grow closer in the process, and restore harmony to our home. What I didn’t know in the beginning is that those Pinterest bitches lie.

“Work together following these six easy steps to a flawless result to anything and you and your mate will feel so accomplished and closer as a couple that you’ll immediately retreat to the bedroom for a night of passionate lovemaking,” they imply with their smiling mouths full of perfect teeth.

Here’s how it really goes and what you need to do to save your marriage.

You’re going to scour the Internet for months until you land upon the perfect project, pair it with your own creative nuances, study the complete step by step instructions, and jump in. If you are like me and your construction experience is limited to second grade Popsicle stick picture frames, you are going have to jump back out and go find him hiding in the garage or bathroom compiling a list of reasons why this can’t be done.

It’s okay, you are persuasive and your blind confidence will balance his pessimism and you will be begin. You’ll go to Home Depot together. It will be kind of like a date because you’ll get the older kids to watch the younger kids with fast food bribes. But it’s gonna be a bad date.

You’ll know exactly what you want and need, but he will have completely different ideas and disregard your months of research. You will argue. You’ll begin to question who this man really is. You’ll leave the store without making any purchases and not speak to each other the entire ride home.

Do not lose hope. You want this and you have a secret weapon. Two words:
Power Tools.
He wants them even if he doesn’t know to use them.

You are going to go home and cool down. You are going to show him plans and pictures and you will venture out together again and come home with the needed supplies…except one. You’ll send him back for a miter box (a simple device used for cutting angles and needed for cutting baseboards and the like which can be purchased for under $20.) You are going to tell him exactly which one you want, make and model number, and location on the store shelf as you learned from the 700 YouTube tutorial videos you watched prior to commencement of this project. You are not going to get that one.

He’s going to call from the store and tell you about the power miter saw that he thinks will make this project so much easier and (here it comes) be so great for future projects. He just committed. You must agree to this purchase even if you have to take out a loan.

Now here’s where you really need to prepare. He’s going to be pretty excited about this saw. He is not going to know how to use this saw. You should send the young children away during the learning process. He will not read the instructions and there is going to be a lot of swearing. A. Lot. Of. Swearing.

Afraid this one is a do over.

Afraid this one is a do over.

There are also going to be a lot of mistakes. There may be some blood. And here my friends is where divorce proceedings do or do not begin. He’s going to be frustrated and angry because in his heart of hearts, he wants you to be happy. He knows his work is less than perfect and he’s disappointed. You have to know and share with him that it doesn’t matter. Wood filler cures a lot of ills and its kinda fun–like sandy super soft play-doh. But it doesn’t cure them all so there are going to have to be some do overs. If you were wondering how I was going to bring this back to parenting, here it is.

In the greater scheme of things, perfect baseboards are not going to change our lives, but how we handle the mistakes will have lasting consequences. With our kids, with our spouses, with everyone, it’s all the same. Empathy, forgiveness, seeking improvement not perfection are the keys. Trying again. Getting better. That’s all I want. That’s all we need. Tight square corners and flawless paint jobs would be nice as would life without struggles, but I’m really coming to appreciate the imperfections and growing from the challenges. I ultimately decided not to correct the imperfections of another project because they grew on me as exclusively our own and we’re pretty awesome. I came to see them as having character–our character.

It’s important to me that we continue working together even if the final product isn’t pin worthy. Perfection is not the goal. We must grow, build, try, fail, connect, and accomplish even if we have to throw down some expletives along the way. Ours is not an easy journey. Raising special needs kids is an arduous task ( hell, sometimes just walking this earth is an arduous task) and many a couple crumble under the pressure. We just celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary and continue to believe the best is yet to come. We’re good. We’re marching on. We’re in this together. But I haven’t told him yet that the replacement door that he so proudly bought last week is the wrong size.