Our first instinct was to deal with the unspeakable basement flooding ourselves but we quickly realized that this was impractical, inefficient and, you know, gross. So we called our insurance company and - after they checked to make sure that we were indeed covered for acts of ohmygod - we filed a claim. Having never filed a homeowners' claim before we were not sure what to expect and we were pleasantly surprised when they dispatched a clean-up team the same day we called them. We beamed as they ripped up half of our carpet, hauled away the nasty bits, and then scrubbed everything in sight.
That was four weeks ago and nothing has happened since. We have half a carpet and the rest of the floor is concrete studded with carpet tacks. It is like the suburban version of a land mine field. Since I had just five minutes ago gotten to the point where I could let Caroline and Edward play unattended down there for short periods of time I am feeling cheated. Now they go down to play and I have to go too; a catcher in the rye who keeps snatching them away from the cliff edge of tiny nails. I would like my basement back and I would like to be able to abandon the kids down there without fear of perforation.
We did have a guy come out to measure things and I got all excited and I spent an entire preschool day hauling things into the storage room in anticipation of new carpet only to have the children spend fourteen seconds tossing it all back out again and still no new carpet.
I think the weak link here is Steve. Like most couples, Steve and I have our areas of domestic responsibility. I cook; he takes out the trash. I schedule dental appointments; he climbs on the icy roof and shoots scalding water at the snow covered satellite dish. I buy the kind of toothpaste Patrick likes and Steve handles all basement repair scheduling; unless he gets ridiculously busy with work in which case I still buy the toothpaste and no one schedules anything.
Not that I am complaining. I'm not. We had one unbelievably bad horrible scary year (Steve earned... nothing in 2009. at all. zero dollars. we lived on savings, credit, my HA HA HA blog earnings and gift cards that my mother sent
you know I have been thinking about the lucky/unlucky thing and there is something to be said for a positive perspective. Just the other day I was contemplating how much worse things could have been for us when everything went so abruptly wrong if it were not for my out of control anxiety. Like: oh how fortunate that I didn't do anything sooner about how crazy I was. I was wondering why I didn't see someone earlier because in retrospect I was a tightly wound recluse and then I saw the upside. Seriously, for years and years I have been so worried about financial ruin and living under a bridge that I insisted on what Steve considered to be stringent - whackaloon - economies. As a result of my previosuly unsubstantiated now justified belief that we were one failed potato crop away from starvation; when the Hindenburg of our monetary outlook blew up we were debt free (except the mortgage) with first (cash) second (investments) and third (retirement accounts) tier backup plans in place.
So on the minus side I have a child who believes they are at risk for abduction if they are not in physical contact with me in public and on the plus side we were able to ride out a depr/rec/ession without losing our house.
That's positive thinking, right there. Little Mrs Sunnysides.
Although you know what? For the first time, um, ever I actually missed a monthly payment. I don't remember if it was the gas bill or the phone or what but we got a late payment notice in the mail and it was as if the Eiffel Tower had suddenly sprouted in our living room. The new, citalopramed, calmer me received a bill, looked at it, and said, "Oh I'll just pay this later" and then forgot about it. This has literally never happened before. Ever.
I confessed this dreadful side effect to my childhood best friend who burst out laughing and said that she was pretty sure there were ways to manage anxiety without damaging your credit score and had I considered automatic bill paying? I hadn't.
Good heavens. Where on earth was I? I just had to scroll up.
Right. Steve is busy working and that is a good thing but he is in Florida for meetings right now and the nails on the floor aren't going anywhere and I don't even know the name of the contractor so I can call and deal with it myself.
Meanwhile the friend of a friend accidentally backed into our car while leaving a birthday party that Patrick was attending so we are just starting our second insurance claim process and it seems to be going equally slowly. Two for two.
In a moment of misplaced frustration many years ago I wrote something I regretted more or less instantly. I had miscarried or was miscarrying or might have been about to miscarry and I snapped that I didn't find anything remotely comforting about blog comments that assured me that they, too, had worried or suffered or struggled and yet their baby was upstairs right that minute sleeping peacefully in a ladybug onesie.
Not only was this not true - I actually did take a great deal of comfort from these comments - it was so ungracious and petty that I was really ashamed of myself and ladybug onesie has stuck with me as a phrase that epitomizes the bitter and peevish parts of trying and failing to have children.
Don't get me wrong. If my hcg failed to double properly, I miscarried. If the embryo was a few days too small, I miscarried. If there was no heartbeat in the first ultrasound, I miscarried. None of the stories of hope and optimism that were offered ever applied to me. But hope itself and optimism in general? That did.
Patrick picked out the dress. The ladybug motif was an accident. But I smiled as I went through the pictures I had taken and I realized, hey, I tried for nine years to have the family I wanted. I miscarried ten times and terminated once when the baby could not live. I did IVF three times, a FET, and had sex more or less every day for a decade. I spent thirteen weeks on the couch, many nights in the hospital, and I got so adept at giving myself shots that I have a preferred method depending upon whether I am injecting my ass or my stomach. It was hard. I cried, I got angry, I alienated people and I once bit my husband on the leg.
I realized a year ago that even if it had never worked, even if we had never had children at all it would have been fine. Really. We would have felt sad and we would have picked ourselves up and done something different. Sailed around the world. Gone to New Zealand. Written a sketch comedy.
I think we have a happy ending but I acknowledge - now in a way that I just could not see before - that it was not the only happy ending available to us.
That said: we have three children and one of them wears ladybugs.
We are so very very lucky.
PS I completely distracted myself but I had a question for you and I am really interested in your thoughts.
Let's say you have a friend. A good friend who has always been there for you. Then say this friend does something pretty dreadful, but not to you. Let's say he cheats on his wife and abandons his three small children in order to follow his new girlfriend to her freshman year of college. Or he willfully defrauds an orphanage. He left a box full of puppies on the side of the road. Something that most people would agree was beyond the pale. Can you, should you, continue the friendship?