This is not the first post I intended to write. I just haven't gotten around to taking the pictures for that post. As you'll see, I haven't gotten around to a lot of things since we moved. We moved almost four weeks ago and the apartment is still in disarray. I don't usually feel bad about it as a whole, given that friends of mine moved four months ago, and they are still not finished unpacking. I know it is a long process. But individual projects that I have meant to get to are still sitting unfinished, and, in some cases, un-started. And my motivation has been nil, and so my personal embarrassment and anxiety about the state of my home has been mounting. Add to that the fact that our washing machine started leaking on Friday afternoon, after the handyman had left for the day, and that a neighbor had come pounding on our door Sunday morning asking us what was leaking through her ceiling (I am pretty sure it wasn't the washing machine because it was in a different part of the apartment, and the washer only leaked when I was using it; the floor had dried by Sunday morning). The diaper laundry was piling up in our bathroom and we were running out of things to diaper with.
The rest of the apartment was filled with half empty boxes, half assembled Ikea furniture, and bits and pieces of things that have no home yet. It had gotten to the point where I was piling boxes on top of boxes to create a sort of bouy system to allow groggy parents, navigating the living room in the middle of the night to make a bottle, to avoid the hidden reefs composed of baking pans, ironing boards, broken coffee tables, and un-hung picture frames.
We have been eating on a box topped with a spare shelf, sitting on foot stools or the floor. In the kitchen there is one half square foot of counter space that is not occupied by food items that have no home. Every time I need to use a different part of the counter, more convenient to the stove or the sink, a sorry collection of displaced bottles and cans, a nomadic tribe, plays out an epic journey from stove side, to sink side, to the fields below the dripping mountain of clean dishes.
With all of this in mind, now imagine Monday morning; my husband and I are still in our rumpled pajamas, my hair is unbrushed. B, shirtless, having just peed on the bed, is hastily diapered in one of the more awkward, handmade diaper covers. He and I are stumbling over the unassembled coffee table waiting to be returned, striving to make our way to that portion of the couch that is not piled with odds 'n ends.
Breakfast has been delayed.
There is a knock at the door.
The handyman has come to fix the washer.
I smile as best I can with my morning mouth as I open the door. He is friendly, he is kind, he ignores everything. I scamper ahead of him to remove the pile of dirty laundry that has accumulated in front of the washer, and the pile of things that have been left on top of it, even though they have nothing to do with laundry, a measuring tape, a book of games, an EZPass.
As he finishes working, I tell him that a neighbor had been leaked on, and could he look at that as well. Of course, and he turns to the open bathroom door, and there in the middle of the floor is a dirty diaper.
As it turns out, he has with him the list of things I had submitted to the office on Friday. A list of things that needed to be repaired. So this handyman, this kind and generous soul, gets to stick his hand down the garbage disposable, which has not been working, and which is found in a sink full of dirty dishes. He gets to see the inside of the dishwasher, splattered with last nights spaghetti sauce, as I hastily try to remove enough dirty dishes for him to do his job. He is patient, and efficient. He goes about his job, completing my list, and I sit on the couch and ponder.
Now, I know people who will say, "don't be so hard on yourself!", but I am not being hard on myself. In fact, I am laughing, but I am also pondering. This is a true experience of humility. This is a feeling I, and I think most people, try to avoid at all costs. But here I have the opportunity to feel it keenly, and to ponder my own worth and my own wretchedness. To know that despite feeling wretched, I am worth something. And to know that most of the time I rely on external things to make me feel worth something. But to also realize it is good to take a certain, dare I say, pride in one's home and one's job as a home maker. Not too much pride, but enough to make my home a pleasant place for other people to be. I must admit that the feeling of shame has faded in the time it took me to write this post, but it was a good moment to remembered my friend C who, while we were at college together, tried to push through a door that said "pull". When someone else pushed from the other side, she turned to me, red faced, and said, "it's good to be humbled".