Every mother knows the feeling of having spent so much time doing something only to have it all undone in a fraction of the time. The block tower you spent at least 5 minutes building met its doom at the hands of a nine month old in 5 milliseconds. The cookies you baked were gone before you got to taste them. The sewing project you spent hours on got cut to shreds by a curious toddler in the time it took you to take a shower. The baby you made became a toddler and ran out of your arms before you realized he could even walk.

I remember when I was five or six years old spending an afternoon with my siblings peeling paint off our bedroom wall. It had started to chip a bit and we’d noticed some pretty wallpaper underneath. We chipped and pulled and chipped some more and then brought our mom upstairs to show her our discovery. It was only then that we realized she’d been the one to paint over the wallpaper and she was none too happy to see it exposed to the light of day again.

I was reminded of that this week as we contemplated undoing the painting of our apartment. We’d spent about 2 weeks painting it when we moved in two years ago and we are unexpectedly finding ourselves having to repaint it and move out in 2 weeks. On Sunday night I kept myself awake trying to think of best-case scenarios, hoping we’d somehow be able to get it repainted in half the time it had taken us to paint originally. This time we had two kids instead of one to work around, but we also had two helpers instead of none. My brother and sister who have been spending the summer back East (in DC and here) came to our rescue and by Tuesday afternoon had pretty much blown all my best-case scenarios out of the water. They finished the painting this afternoon, having spent three feverishly humid days with paint-rollers in their hands while I wrangled the boys and tried not to get in the way myself.

I know that back in the day people used to have big families because they needed lots of hands to run the farm. The grow-your-own labor force is less necessary these days, although it is probably still useful on occasions — like when you have to re-paint a room that has somehow become unpainted. However, it means a lot to me that my sis and bro volunteered for the job even though I have no control over their food and boarding. Having them take care of my problem without obligation kind of makes me feel like a little kid again. I owe them big time for undoing what I spent so much time doing two years ago.

Jarom, that’s the closest you’re going to get to seeing me shed happy tears over this, so enjoy it.

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