The three greatest stresses to a marriage are, in descending order, the
death of one of the spouses (pretty obvious), the actual ordeal of getting
married, and home improvement.
Let me put this into context: Rebecca has finally declared the backyard a
disaster zone. This means that for the last week, a week Ive had
the pleasure of staying at home for, weve had five guys stomping around
the house. What prompted this sudden interest in removing 20
truckloads of dirt and requiring four pallets of heavy stone to be carried
up the 37 stairs to our house? Bahroo, she says, tracks mud
all through the house. Im going to fix him good.
What she means by this is that well let strangers track mud through the
house for a week or two. Once theyre done, however, well have
a terraced yard thats fenced off in all the right places. And a
new pond, new sprinklers, and all new plants.
That couple of thousand dollars I wanted to save by June is already
completed tapped out.
Then Rebecca drops the bomb: Im asking my mom to come stay with us
for a week and help.
Dont get me wrong. I love my mother-in-law. And she really
knows what the heck shes doing. Shes owned 18 houses herself,
and I wouldnt bet there is a single home improvement she hasnt done.
No, what I dread is her tremendous efficiency. Working from 7am to
midnight. Total focus. Total commitment.
My mother-in-law is an amazing woman, and I see where Rebecca got her
drive from. Our yard, by conservative estimates, should have taken a
month to finish. By Friday, when my mother-in-law is ready to go
home, almost two-thirds of the job is done.
Shall we relax and go on a hot date? Rebecca asks.
I should probably define hot date. To parents, this means
going out for dinner late enough that your child will be asleep. And
by the time we got everything cleaned up and Skylar fed, it was past
8:30pm. Finally, we were packed in the car, ready to have a night of
Oh, said Rebecca. We need to stop by Home Depot and pick up
a few things so the guys can work tomorrow. (The guys are coming
back Saturday, but at 8am so we all get to sleep in for an extra hour!)
And I grabbed the 10% coupon, just in case.
Normally I hate going to Home Depot. It sure is fun to buy things
there, but a) finding them or someone to help you and b) paying for them
(Theres no SKU on this screw), is a complete nightmare. So I was
shocked when we arrived at 9:00pm on a Friday night to discovered that the
store was actually manageable. We found people who could help us and
tell us, correctly, which aisle to check on. I think, perhaps, we were the
only customers in the entire warehouse. It was almost a joy to shop.
I pushed the lumbering flatbed cart towards sprinkler supplies, a great
aisle on which to start a hot date.
We might as well buy as much stuff as we can right now, said
Rebecca, so we can maximize the 10% coupon.
PVC or poly hose? That was the big debate for half an hour.
Then we had to find all the right connectors and sprinkler heads.
Skylar pitched a fit in his stroller, so we let him out to help too.
Surprisingly, most of the fittings he pulled out of boxes and threw on the
floor were ones we needed. Then we were off to lumber.
Pressure-treated wood for Skylars sandbox looked good and the price was
right but, as the man who proudly maintains the lumber aisle told us,
its filled with chemicals. Redwood? Too rough.
A sandbox needs sand. And I needed a new cart. Ten bags of
sand later I could barely push it. Concrete called for a third cart.
Theres just something about a 10% coupon that makes you think of
everything you could possibly need and want to buy it today. I just
prayed we had enough room in the van to get it all home.
Rebecca and I stood holding hands as the lady entered our coupon. We
wanted to share that delicious moment of Look how much we saved!
before the realization of how much we had to spend to save that much
kicked in. I love you, said Rebecca, steeling me for the
total. And it just about killed the savings account and then some.
As we drove home to make ourselves a dinner of strawberry shortcake, I
realized that it was just about midnight and our hot date almost over.
We didnt have a fancy dinner, didnt dance our pants off, and
didnt get drunk. And I wouldnt have it any other way.
Such is love.