Thursday, September 22, 2011

Things fall apart

I haven't had enough sleep lately, and I've had a cold, and we've had a lot to do. And then there are kids going through rough spots and a husband who is unemployed and depressed and there are worries about budget and health care coverage and such.Toss in a touch of PMS and yesterday -- not surprisingly -- was one of those rare times when life threatened to overwhelm me.

I took the kids down to our homeschool co-op for the first day of classes. I headed up to the co-op moms' meeting, where there were a dozen or so wonderful friends I hadn't seen all summer. And I thought I was going to cry. You know how it is when you're feeling fragile and find yourself in a situation where people would gladly offer a shoulder to cry on, but you're feeling too sad to fall apart because if you did you'd have to talk? That's where I was.

There are days when articulating anything is more work than it's worth. So I was as sociable as I could manage (which involved a lot of joking, because laughing is so close to crying), and pre-empted inquiries into my life by asking how others were doing. And then periodically I zoned off into the sad space that surged up within me. People either didn't notice, or were gracious enough to realize that I'd talk when I was ready. I love those ladies.

After co-op was over the kids wanted to head down to the playground with everyone else. Sigh. Okay. More social time. I briefly considered going for a walk to be alone, but talked to two moms about high school applications (it's an ordeal here in the city). I talked to another about her mother-in-law, who is showing signs of short-term memory loss (my father-in-law suffered from dementia, and lived with us the first year we were married). Sometimes the best thing to do when you're feeling low is to help someone else. It gives you something constructive to focus on.

We got home at about 3:45. The clean laundry was still sorted in piles on the living room floor, waiting for kids to fold it. There was no milk in the house, so I couldn't have coffee. We had plenty of veggies but no protein to make for supper.

I headed out to the grocery store. When I returned ten minutes later, Andrew was pacing in the building lobby, talking on his cell phone. That was weird; we don't leave the little kids alone with Big Guy. Andrew covered the mouthpiece and said, "The bathroom ceiling fell down."

Even *my* kids don't make this big a mess!
Oh. Of course. There'd been a water stain and we'd had the building manager come look at it and they were going to replace the 1933-era drain pipe in the upstairs apartment. Which they'd apparently done that day. But in the banging to loosen the plaster upstairs they'd apparently loosened the plaster in our ceiling (it's the real stuff, with sheetrock on the outer layer) and it came down with a roar.

I went upstairs and looked. It wasn't the whole ceiling, but it was a big enough hole to climb into, if one had a pressing need to explore the inner structure of an apartment building. The rubble fill the sink and covered the floor around it. I could see the shiny new brass drain pipe. It looked happy up there. My own sentiments were less glittering. They were so much less cheerful that Andrew suggested perhaps it might be better for me to go out and pick up Dancer (who has four hours of dance on Wednesdays, and gets out late) than to stay home with the other kids.

The hole eventually grew...
That was a good idea. By the time I got home the building super had been up and cleaned up the rubble. The hole still gaped, and Little Guy needed Benadryl because the mildew in the joists made him cough. The kids brushed their teeth in the other bathroom (I spent $16 on new toothbrushes, since all of ours had been buried in ancient plaster) and went to bed.

But the day was over. I'd made it through. And life hadn't fallen apart, except for the ceiling.

Some days, if you set the bar low enough, it's possible to succeed.

And today is a new day. I hope no ceilings fall down. I don't think they will. And if they do I won't be here to see or hear it, because the kids start their construction class today, where they will learn how to frame a playhouse. It strikes me that this is a skill that could come in handy around here. Because building and rebuilding are part of life.



  1. I might frame this: "Some days, if you set the bar low enough, it's possible to succeed."

  2. You have my heart. I have to remember to laugh when I want to cry. I have to remember to give to others because it makes me feel better. I have to remember--that even though tomorrow may bring more of the same--tomorrow will be different because it will be a new day and a new chance. Thank you.

    ...and I'm signed anonymous because I don't know what else to do. But it makes me sad to be anonymous--because I'm not. Toni

  3. My favorite thought for times like these: This too shall pass. Repeat as often as needed.

    Hope today turned out to be better for you.

  4. Oh my the hole... My ceiling just fell apart just right now. I do not know what to do. Please help. Will my entire bathroom ceiling hole continue to grow? What is the best effective way to prevent this from happening?