It was a Saturday morning, at the home improvement mecca we call Lowe’s:
- One child in a “car cart,” his older sisters crying and moaning because they’re too big for said cart. “Can I drive it? Can I just get into the basket? WHY CAN’T WE GET IN?”
- In the paint section, with witnesses, David and I have a major disagreement over the right shade of blue-gray for our living room (yes, we already painted it, yes I hated the color as David was putting it on the wall, and yes it took him three days to apply said hated paint because I didn’t stop him LET’S NOT GO THERE). I suggest that, instead of trying to get another new color, we just go to Home Depot and get the paint I’d wanted for the walls in the first place. As this is a family-friendly blog, I will omit what David said next.
- In the light section, we make a decision to purchase a light fixture to replace the awful broken one (the one, if you’ve been to our house, I’ve not-so-lovingly referred to as the thing that resembles deranged moose antlers) in our kitchen, though it takes 20 minutes of wandering around the aisle while the girls twirl around under the “fan palace” before we settle on on the SAME EXACT LIGHT FIXTURE we said we liked when we first walked in.
- On to the tile aisle (say that three times quickly), where we engage in another spirited back-and-forth: Do we go with the muted backsplash? The bright? We are color people, but should we try to be more grown-up? No decision is made, because I finally suggest that we not decide on the backsplash until we choose the color that’s going on the walls in the little room off of the kitchen, to make sure it all coordinates. One of us–not sure who–sighs loudly.
- David, looking at the two colors I’ve chosen for said little room: “Yeech. That one looks like dog vomit.” He is, without knowing, describing the one that’s my favorite. He wins this round.
- We move on to shades, because we’re in desperate want of five, maybe seven sets of Roman shades for said little room off the kitchen (the little room that has lots and lots of little windows), because for two years we’ve had no window treatments there and the entire neighborhood can watch us at night a) washing dishes, b) making out while washing dishes, c) arguing before making out while washing dishes, and c) any other possible activity that can happen in a tiny room off the kitchen (oh, it’s not what you think–I mean when we have people over for a party and stuff. Sheesh).
- We decide that we hate all shade options, and we’re already so over the month’s budget for house projects I’m about to cry anyway. Tension between David and me is near boiling at this point. Cian is now lying in his car cart, taking off his shoes. The girls are trying to decide how to break each and every one of the shade/blinds displays. We move on, our steps a bit heavier now.
- Somehow we all end up in the light aisle again (why are we here?). At this point I fully admit to starting to cry (yes, in public, yes, in the one aisle that contains 50 million spotlights). The morning has caught up with me, and Quinlan asks me why I “have tears.” They’re just the sorrow of a thousand suburban adult mornings, I tell her. David puts his arm around my shoulder.
Later that morning, at the Home Depot next door to the Lowe’s, because we are masochists (or sadists, if you look at us from our children’s perspective):
- More tile comparisons. They’re starting to blend together. Saoirse asks if we can do the kids’ bathroom in a Liberace-inspired sparkling white-and-metallic backsplash. I tell her that when we get to her bathroom, maybe. It will be years before we get to that bathroom, so I don’t feel so bad for kind of fibbing.
- Another minor squabble while David tries to locate 10 vintage-looking soft-white light bulbs for the light fixture we’d gotten at Lowe’s. I leave him to stand on his tiptoes with a broom, trying to get the last pack of bulbs off the shelf, and wander down to look at light fixtures. Yes, I know.
- We run into friends outside the kids’ butterfly-house-painting activity the store is hosting, which the kids noticed, and, thankfully, do not seem to think we are such terribly awful parents for remembering that this activity might be something they’d like to do. I am wearing running pants and a tank top paired with a black trench coat, though I have not been running nor singing in the rain. We chat, and I hope said friends do not notice the Lowe’s-induced mascara smears around my eyes.
- I decide on the original paint that we vetoed before David spent three days painting the kitchen and living room the original blue color, and order two gallons while the girls throw themselves into a display of majestic palms and Cian stares at all of us, blankly, his eyes rimmed with the red of home renovation exhaustion.
- We–hallelujah! let the angels sing!–move to leave, taking a detour to walk through the nursery section, where we stare at expensive trees the size of big twigs, dreaming of the ways we can landscape our barren subdivision backyard once we’re not spending our home budget on light fixtures.
After two and half hours spent in various home improvement stores, we walk to our car, hundreds of dollars poorer, quieter, and (the grown-ups, anyway) just a bit pissier. We’ve a long weekend ahead of us, we both know that, and I suggest to David that we break the ol’ budget further and grab a quick lunch out to reset a little. He agrees. I look at Saoirse, reaching to grab her hand before we walk through the parking lot. I’m tired, and a bit sad–this morning didn’t go as I had wanted, and I am really, really hungry, which makes me concerned about the kids. I notice, though, that Saoirse is smiling.
“What’s going on with you?” I asked, then took a breath. “That was a really long morning for you all, wasn’t it?”
Her smile got bigger.
“No, that was fun,” she said. “I got to spend time with my family.” Then she skipped a step, broke the clasp of our hands, and ran toward the open door of the minivan.
It was fun, she said. Saoirse completely surprised me. I love it when she does that. And I’m so, so grateful she feels this way–and not just because I think we’re coming back for more next weekend.