When You Can’t Learn From the Past

When we moved into this house, we loved it for the floor plan, the fact that we could imagine different uses for certain rooms for different phases of our family’s growth, and all the natural light. Built in the late-1980’s, previous owners have done some upgrades (hardwood floors!) while others are original to the home (the master bathroom…)

We made a list of home improvements – things that needed to be done in the first months of moving in all the way to dreams that may not happen for at least a decade, should we still be living here.

One of the improvements that wasn’t necessary but was certainly toward the top of the list was the master bathroom. It has everything we want in a bathroom: 2 sinks, a soaking tub, plenty of storage, natural light. It may have been updated at some point, but those updates are dated and falling apart. In fact, one morning, we woke up to see some of the tiles in the shower had fallen off the ceiling! Cabinets were painted black, but just a sloppy job on the outside – the insides are filled with unfinished brushstrokes.

All of it works and it’s far bigger than any bathroom we could have dreamed of in our house search, yet it’s just unfinished enough to make it annoying.

We set aside money for the project and thought we’d renovate this summer. A new hot water heater, necessary care for the eight old trees in our yard, and an unexpected immediate need to fix our deck have pushed our dream bathroom down on the list of renovations.

We talked about doing it piece by piece – fixing the tub that leaks and can’t be used, redoing the tile, slowly updating as we can. The maximizer in me cringes at this thought. I would rather live longer with an annoying bathroom than do it slowly, with the risk of an incoherent space.

So, we’re waiting. It’s probably a good thing in the end. If I were to redesign our bathroom now, it would include childproof shelving and fixtures that I may not need in just a few years. Perhaps it’s best to settle down a bit from the busy toddler stage and really think what we’d need from this space longterm.

Right now, we use the nonfunctioning tub as a playpen for Elle, though those days are slowly fading already. She’s mobile and doesn’t like to be confined. She also knows what she is and isn’t allowed to explore and is fairly compliant. So, we close some doors and let her wander upstairs. The other day, I looked in the tub while showering and realized that, instead of bursting with toys, it had a book, a doll, and a stray stuffed animal. Time passes quickly.

Mothering and maximizing are sometimes at odds with each other. The desire to go from good to better, rather than accepting the status quo is so often thwarted by the fact that kids change so quickly. What worked last month or yesterday may not work anymore today. What worked for Bea certainly doesn’t work for Elle. My desire to learn from my experiences and grow just doesn’t work neatly when raising individual humans.

Like our bathroom, I’m learning to step back, be ok with something that’s not perfect, and recognize that one day we’ll have all the time in the world to make it exactly what we want. In the meantime, I’m grateful for what we have in this particular season.

How do you tackle home improvement – bit by bit or do you wait to do something all at once? What about life? Are you able to appreciate the moment or do you look for improvement? 


This post is Day 7 of the Write 31 Day Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the StrengthsFinder test. You can find the entire series over at Live Your Strengths page.


Published by

Annie Rim

Welcome! I live in Colorado with my family and have taught in the classroom, at an art museum, and now in the playroom. I reflect about life, faith, and books here on my blog.

8 thoughts on “When You Can’t Learn From the Past”

  1. I am in a time of life where I can appreciate the moment. My long range plans now include what will I physically be able to do in fifteen years. I look for improvement with a keen eye because I dread the day that I realize my physical self will never improve.Gone are the days of watching the ever changing development of my children. I see it in grandchildren now.

    1. It must be so cool to watch the grandkids – such a different perspective! Love that you are in a place to appreciate the moment. Sounds peaceful, in a way.

  2. If you can, make as much of your renovations ADA compatible. You may stay in the house longer than you expect, you may have an elderly or handicapped person stay or live with you, and we can’t predict our own continued good health either. Handles, knobs, faucets can be easier to use by someone with arthritis, baths and showers can have grab bars added. It is easier to do this when you’re already replacing tile etc.

  3. I wonder about that too Annie. When we owned our home, we did things one at a time, as they came along. There wasn’t anything that “had” to be done which made it easier. Living in parsonages the past 20+ years is so different, always thinking there will be people following you so don’t get crazy. Now, our thoughts are going once again to having our own home. We are much older than when we did it all ourselves, though one of us isn’t believing any of that 😉 I think Gabriele is right about appreciating the moment. I hope to do that and not rush us into now. Good to contemplate.

    1. Haha! Love that Henry will just keep on going! It’ll be so fun for you guys to find your own place and see how that changes the way you do home improvement.

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