I knew the second that man walked in the door! “Don’t worry, it’s just allergies,” he said. Allergies my ass! Fourteen years of marital bliss, trust me, I know the difference between seasonal allergies and the start of a head cold. I tried to play it off like I wasn’t worried, shoving my daughters to the opposite end of the house while spraying a can of Lysol. “I’m sure, it’s nothing” I said. EPIC LIE. In my mind I could hear myself murmuring the “F” word followed by something like, “No. No. No. Can’t you be sick next week?” Man Cold Apocalypse 2016 was looming.
Hours later, I could hear my husband coughing and blowing his nose. It was like someone had sounded off an emergency alert signal in my house. ALERT. ALERT. MAN COLD CONFIRMED. My fears had been realized. This mom was officially screwed!
For the next four days (That’s right, I said “4.”) my husband laid in our king size bed, licking his wounds. Ever the dutiful wife, I delivered tissues, cough drops, and meals on a tray to his bedside. Before you think the Pope should canonize me for my efforts, I’ll admit I had ulterior motives. I was trying to protect my two toddlers from catching their daddy’s germs.
That’s when it hit the fan, so to speak. On the 5th day, I woke up feeling awful. Stomach cramps, pain, and nausea. I could barely hold my head up, let alone lift two babies. Climbing the stairs to my husband’s bedroom felt like Everest. When I finally reached the summit, I grabbed his foot and yanked. “I’m sick. I’ve been sick all morning. I need to lay down.” “Are you really ‘that’ sick?” he asked.
I murmured my “special” version of the Serenity Prayer under my breath. It goes something like:
“God, grant me the serenity, to accept my husband is a big, sick baby. The courage not to puke on my bedroom rug (because I’ll be the one stuck cleaning it up) and the wisdom to know murder is not covered by our life insurance policy.”
“Mostly Wonderful” stood up and I slinked into bed. The room was spinning and Frances was glued to my hip with worry. I woke up three hours later to the sounds of my two screaming children fighting over a toy. Somehow I made my way downstairs into an obliterated living room. I could feel crushed cookie crumbs and crackers beneath my feet. Tissues littered the floor and a sea of stuffed animals lead me right to the “adult” I had left in charge.
There sat my husband, collapsed in the recliner, wearing a hospital mask. “To hell with it,” he said.“Let them destroy the house. We can move, right?” WRONG.
He had waived the white flag in the face of our two daughters. I was too sick to argue with “Mostly Wonderful’s” logic. It was obvious fever and possible delirium had set in.
I shuffled my feet, kicking toys out of my path until I finally found my back door. “I’m going to take Frances out to the bathroom,” I yelled, quickly seeking sanctuary in the bitter cold of my backyard. I located the lone lawn chair in the midst of my concrete jungle and collapsed. I could still hear my kids crying. Over what? Who the hell knows?
I looked over at Frances, “Take your time girl, because I really don’t want to go back in there.” Franny continued to sniff as if in agreement.
My head was pounding. My stomach churning. If I only had a place to hide from my sneezing husband and two cranky toddlers. The answer to my prayers was right in front of me – our old, dilapidated garage. I needed to turn that hovel into the mother of all she-sheds. You know, it’s like a man cave, but for chicks.
The Fixer Upper Fantasy
My imagination took off. I would evict the spiders. Move out the possums. Get rid of the rusted tool box, the work bench (because we all know who’s not using those) and tell my husband to take his snow thrower elsewhere.
Then, I would call up HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” super couple, Chip & Joanna Gaines. I know those two Texans could turn this NYC hell hole into my dream space. The female power house behind this Magnolia empire, Joanna, also happens to be the mother of “4” kids. Her husband, although extremely hot, can be a bit juvenile and dorky. (You don’t need 20/20 vision to see that’s a good lookin’ man right there.) Joanna Gaines would be the perfect designer to empathize with my plight.
Here’s how my imaginary “Fixer Upper Fantasy” conversation would go.
Hey, JoJo. (Yeah, we’d be on a “JoJo” name basis.) The husband has a man cold. My kids need an exorcism. Can you do something with my crappy garage so I have a place to hide?
That’s when JoJo would refill my mason jar sweet tea and hand me some homemade cookies from her Magnolia Farm. “Oh Holly” she’d say, “Honey, Magnolia Construction’s got you. Now, tell me how do “you all” envision this space.”
Let me stop you right there JoJo – because there is no “you all” in this episode. This reno is all about MWAH!
“So your family will have no input in this design?”
That’s when I would point to Frances, “Just me and Franny.”
“Alrighty, then. So tell me what you and “Frances” would like to see in this space?”
Hold on to that Texan accent Lady Gaines, because here comes Holly’s wish list.
She Shed Wish List
For starters, I want a double French doors that open into my backyard. Give me a few large windows with plantation shutters for extra light. And let’s do flower boxes outside those windows so I can actually “stop and smell the roses” while I’m hiding from my family.
Inside I want colored, concrete floors (Who cares if I can’t see them?) with soft, plush throw rugs. I’d love a comfy sectional with pull out sleeper, free from cookie crumbs and cushions stained with random bodily fluids. (You know what I’m eluding to here.) Pillows and throws should be everywhere. Think high-end brothel meets Bed Bath & Beyond. Oh, and a huge tufted floral bed for Frances. My guide dog works hard; she deserves the best.
On one wall, I want three matching reclaimed wooden shelves. I plan on displaying all my wigs on mannequin heads. Make it look like the Game of Thrones, Many Faced God Temple up in there. Nothing wrong with embracing your alopecia and obsessive compulsive tendencies. You feelin’ me, JoJo?
JoJo nods and then asks, “Reclaimed wood? Would you like shiplap?”
“You know me all too well, JoJo. Shiplap the hell out of that place.”
I need a dedicated crafting corner. Give me baskets “and” boxes “and” cups for scissors. Wall mounted paper dispensers, peg boards and mason jars filled with supplies! I want an easel with paints, brushes and an endless supply of canvas.
“Oh, do you paint?” Joanna asks.
Nope. But if I get the urge to embrace my inner Bob Ross and paint myself a “happy, little tree” then I should be able to grab a brush and run with it.
Can you get your man, Clint Harp, to fashion me a beautiful farm table so I can craft till my little heart’s content?
And while ol’ Clint is at it, have him build me a rustic desk so I can write and blog in blissful peace within the confines of my she-shed.
Run me some wi-fi, throw up some twinkle lights with a chandelier and mount at least a 40” tv inside. Franny and I want to watch your show, “Fixer Upper” in style.
“I’ve got all your wish list items, Holly. Now I have a little money left in your budget and I’m going to give you 3 options to choose from.”
Hit me with your best shot, JoJo.
“Option number one, a fully stocked, mini wine refrigerator.”
Not a drinker JoJo. Scratch the fridge. Forget the booze. Let’s go with a mini-freezer stocked with peanut butter Haagen Daz.
“Umm. Ok. Option two, a set of shaker cabinets for additional storage.
More room for munchies. Now you’re talking Mrs. Gaines.
“Or option three, a key pad door lock handle, so your shabby chic, she-shed stays off-limits to anyone but you.”
You’re speaking my language, JoJo. Let me think (Jeopardy music plays in the background while I defer to Frances for a final decision.) Ok, we’ve decided.
“Great, is it going to be option one, two or three?”
Frances and I choose… ALL OF THEM! This is my fantasy JoJo. I’m not skimping on this wish list.
With that she’d whip around her MAC laptop and begin to show me the digital blueprint of my momma sanctuary. “Can I refill that sweet tea?”
Sure, I’d love some more………
Back To Reality
My “Fixer Upper” fantasy was interrupted by my husband screaming my name from the kitchen. The kids were hungry. He needed a nap and no one could find the remote control.
Joanna Gaines wasn’t coming to rescue me. There would be no mason jar sweet tea. No twinkle lights. No shiplap. Who was I kidding? I was having champagne and caviar she-shed dreams with a porter potty budget!
I pulled my sorry ass off that cold, wrought iron lawn chair and marched back into the depths of mothering hell. I turned to look at my ugly garage one more time. It would be nice, I thought.
A place to hide.
A place to work.
A place to relax.
A “space” to help get me back into a good “space.”
Moms don’t get sick days. Or vacation. Or Time Off. Hell, I haven’t even had a manicure in six months.
There is no time for “mommy” to get sick when you’ve got two little people who depend on you. And when your partner in crime gets a cold and becomes your third child (even momentarily), well, you’d be hard pressed not to find a mother who hasn’t considered running away from home.
The backyard really isn’t that far away – but it could be just far enough for me to catch my breath, find myself and maybe sip some sweet tea out of a mason jar inside my very own “Fixer Upper.”