A Favor

Greg left home for a few days, so, as is our time-honored tradition, I had to decide which trouble to get into first. Options included a) using the three gallons of paint I bought to try to cover up the goo and grime somewhere (ANYWHERE) in my house, b) moving all the furniture in all the house and creating general havoc and upheaval from which it will take weeks to recover, c) getting the torso tattoo I’ve been plotting for years, and/or d) bringing home an English Springer Spaniel puppy.

The tattoo was out almost instantly because I would have had to make a phone call to make that happen, and, as everyone who’s tried to call me for the past month can attest, I’m not doing phone-talking right now. I don’t know why talking out loud using words feels patently impossible, but it does, so there goes that idea.

As much as I want the puppy, I decided against getting one while Greg is away, mostly because that simply isn’t how we make decisions in our marriage. Instead, I spend months — sometimes years — emotionally and psychologically torturing Greg with the concept of a puppy (or puppies, or, you know, an entire horse), resentfully enduring his pessimism and disdain, before eventually wearing him down to a mere shadow of his former self; a shadow that finally, in defeat, cedes to my wishes because a) the shadow is too tired and demoralized to divorce me, and b) I put out. I’m just totally doctrinally opposed to getting a puppy without Greg dying a thousand small deaths first; and, since I’m a person of conviction and tenacity, I need to follow my heart here, friends.

That left me with using 3 gallons of paint and moving all the furniture in all the house.

With the oldest boy away at camp this week (cross your fingers and say all the prayers), I decided to paint, clean and redecorate his room. He’s nearly 17, after all, and has been stuck with adorable cartoon airplanes on his walls for the past 10 years, which was rad when he was tiny and is less rad in his gargantuan, man-child state. “You know what would be cool?” I thought, “You know what would help this child see how very loved and valued he is?” If I spend time giving him a new space! A GROWN UP space. A space he can be proud to bring his friends. A space washed and vacuumed and painted and smelling less like hormones and feet. A space that’s ORGANIZED. And so I’ve cleaned and vacuumed and moved three beds from two rooms, and discarded broken chairs and broken toys, and created a going-to-the-dump pile, and removed twelve metric tons of trash, and found the computer bag that’s been missing for months, and done five hundred thousand loads of laundry, and run all those loads a second time but with bleach hoping that would eliminate the persistent smell of rotten cheese, and primed and trimmed and painted and painted and painted until the room looks and smells (!) clean and fresh and new.

And then it occurred to me when all the work was nearly complete that my kid, who relies on routine and known quantities is about to come home from camp to a totally reworked room that’s not at all familiar and smells different because, “SURPRISE! See how much Mommy love you??” So… that’s going to be awesome. Clearly. I mean, WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

:/

I sat in the room last night and had a teeny, tiny panic attack.

Then I panicked more, because even though people will tell you panic and worry have never accomplished anything, I have panicked and worried A LOT and then most of the things I’ve panicked and worried about DO NOT COME TO PASS, which is clearly cause-and-effect and means panic and worry do, too, work, so HA! Joke’s on all you suckers who DON’T panic and worry.

IMG_1146Then Zoey and I brainstormed about what to do, and we decided, in addition to panicking and worrying, we would add one more decorative touch to Ian’s room.

See, Ian’s a guy whose love language is words of encouragement. He’s a sponge for kindness. And, as I looked at his new, blank walls, I remembered all of your tremendous kindness to him when he shared his own panic and worry with you. I wondered what it would be like to cover those walls with kind words.

Tonight, Zoey and I will begin writing on those new, clean walls with permanent markers. We’ll start with our own words — like we love you to the MOON — and we’ll move to yours, like “Thank you for being so brave, Ian” and “Thank you for sharing your real lives with others, it is a beautiful gift.”

The goal? That even though Ian will come home to a surprise new room, which may be hard and disconcerting at first, he will also arrive to walls of kindness and love. The kind of walls we ought to be building, you know?

So Zoey and I have a favor to ask. If you have words for the wall — your own or a quote or a poem or a song or a verse — that exude kindness and remind this kid of his tremendous value, would you put them below? I’d love it if we could collaborate on being his Village together.

With love, friends, and appreciation for you,

Signature

 

 

 

P.S. Zoey says pretty please.

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
61 comments
  1. This isn’t mine, it’s from the awesome Carolyn Hax of the Washington Post, and a quote I return to repeatedly:

    “This business of being human is basically a jalopy ride over potholes, which is why it’s so important to ride with the best people you know, wherever possible, and to make sure you take note of any particularly beautiful scenery.”

  2. Sorry- Lives not loves – auto correct strikes again!

  3. This is a picture I purchased a few years ago- I loved it and maybe you could hange it a bit just for Ian. Love hearing about your life adventures – it is reassuring to know other people’s loves are madness like ours! Good luck with the room- fantastic idea!

    To our children…
    When we tell you we love you
    We don’t say it out of habit
    Or to make conversation

    We say it to remind you that
    You are the best thing
    That ever happened to us

  4. Don’t forget to include a fun quote or two from a favorite show or character, such as a Star Wars quote or Harry Potter, or whatever he might truly enjoy. 🙂

  5. Something I say to my kids often:

    “You are SO LOVED.”

    I hope Ian loves his new room. <3

  6. “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”

    Dr. Suess

  7. “You are of infinite worth”

    “Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth”

  8. Not sure if this is really what you are looking for since I don’t know your son like you do but… here are a few that might be great.

    – Never look down on anybody unless you are helping them up. – Jesse Jackson
    – Stars can’t shine without darkness
    – Be strong because things will get better. It may be stormy now, but it never rains forever.
    – Love the life you live. Live the life you Love. – Bob Marley
    – Everyday is a second chance.
    – Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. – Confucius
    – Live is not about waiting for the storm to pass, its about learning to dance in the rain.
    – You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it.

    Looking for these today gave me a little boost, just what I needed. It feels like the darkness looms closer all the time, however I can always count on you to shine some light into the darkest corners.

    Thank you!

  9. You are not alone. I too know the bitter taste of invisible mental illness. I commend you for your battle, every day. You have a great deal to teach others, for those wise enough to listen.

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