It’ll never be done
Finding joy in the never-ending project
I like finishing things. I make lists so I can check things off of them. I’m the kind of embarrassing housewife who adds inane things I’m already planning on doing just so I can check them off said list: Take a shower. Go for a walk. Unload the dishwasher. The dopamine hit is very real for me.
I must, therefore, resist this natural list-finishing inclination when it comes to the house.
I know when we move back in that I will have a profound desire for it to be finished. And it won’t be. We won’t have any money for the nice furniture that I have dreamt of for new rooms. I won’t be able to afford the wallpaper I want in various places (Felix’s room, the main floor guest room, perhaps the stairwell) for a good while yet. The front stoop and front walk, which I have wanted to jackhammer up for eight years now, will continue to look like garbage. And so forth. The project list seems just as long as it ever was, even as we’re making some major improvements.
There will always be work to be done, many more things to rectify and shore up and embellish. I have dreamed about this renovation for so long that I’m falling into a mental trap of believing that because we are finally doing this project, everything else will be done as well. This is not the case.
I again return to my tutors in the way of English country decorating, who firmly preach and believe that houses (and rooms) are never finished. Indeed, it would be a sin to declare you’d finished a room, to seal it off as if it were an exhibition in a museum. Rather, interiors, like us, ought to always be in flux, shifting with the seasons and accommodating to new winds.
I’m saying all of this to myself to get me to calm down. Because, really, malleability and imperfection are the twin joys of an old house—even as I resist and begrudge them. In my heart of hearts, I love the unfinished nature of homemaking.
At home, we are making it through. Moses is back at school (praise be!), and Felix is allowed back next week. He’s repeatedly tested negative and remains as healthy and cheerful as ever.
Things that have helped
The neighbor’s trampoline (at least for a while, until it disappeared; photos of daily joys below)
Getting in bed at 8:30
A few days of warm weather
And Felix, honestly, is a godsend. Have never met a sunnier baby.
I inherited many specific homemaking commandments from my mother and grandmother, such as:
Always Light Your Candles Before Putting Them on Display; An Unlit Wick Is a Disgrace
Always Use Cloth Napkins; Don’t Be a Boor
But the one that I find I’m shockingly alone on is:
Always Wash Dishes With Gloves; You’re Not a Savage
Like my grandmother, mother, and sister before me, I think it is absolute murder to wash dishes without a sturdy pair of dishwashing gloves. We Farson women take our gloves extremely seriously. Heads will roll if you’re found to be the one who left them in the sink, filling with water; it’s a capital offense.
And I feel like we’re alone on this. In the vast majority of homes I visit, there’s nary a dish glove to be found. People just wash their filthy dishes with their bare hands. Like animals!
There are a hundred reasons to use gloves while washing dishes, but these are the top ones:
You protect your delicate hands and nails (especially in winter, this cannot be overstated)
You can use much, much hotter water
You are far more likely to do a better job cleaning because you’re not as hesitant and squeamish
You may pretend to be Betty Draper whilst washing
I’m so persnickety about my gloves that I have been known to bring my own when I visit other homes for an extended period of time. It’s so important to me.
If you are among these nameless, numberless, gloveless dishwashing savages, give it a go. You might just find your home life forever altered.
Harrow, Joy Williams
Vladimir, Julia May Jonas
British Designers at Home, Jenny Rose-Innes