When I left my two-year-old at home with my 36-year-old for the weekend I was well aware that my roles as wife, mother, cooker, cleaner, motivator, and giver of unintentionally condescending looks were crucial to the functioning of this household, but when I walked in to find Story (the two-year-old) in a diaper and boots, covered head-to-toe in soot and blue Sharpie, and Justin (the 36-year-old) practically in tears on a pile of blankets on a pile of clothes on the couch, I had to re-evaluate my true value.
As it was told to me everything was going really well until Saturday morning when, after putting Story down for a nap and dozing off himself, Justin woke up to the smell of burning plastic and flames licking the ceiling of the bedroom. We knew that we had potential electrical problems, but for whatever reason these potential problems became kinetic that Saturday when the new alarm clock caught fire. Luckily someone was home to panic, consider calling 9-1-1, and then pummel the flames with our equally new pillows, slinging melted plastic and alarm clock organs all over the walls and carpet. After the fire, he said, he just gave up on the house-cleaning aspect of his endeavor. What did it matter to have a box of rice thrown from the counter top when the entire bedroom was covered in thick black tar-like dust? What is the point of putting the dirty dishes in the dishwasher when the side table has been reduced to charcoal?
Despite my hatred of walking in to a dirty house, I had to feel sorry for Justin (only after recovering some sense of what his weekend must have been like, and his knowledge of the fact that I would be extremely disappointed and probably furious). "I wanted so badly to for you to walk in and be impressed with me," he said half mad that I wasn't, and half acknowledging that I had no reason to be. I was impressed though, there was evidence that he really had good intentions, the curtain rods that I've been asking him to hang for months were hung, and while there was a black blanket of soot all over everything, the rice that was on the floor was cleaned up, the dirty dishes were at least in the sink, and Story seemed like he kind of enjoyed looking like a burned-up Smurf. So, as always seems to be the case, what was intended for evil, God made good because today the two of us cleaned, rearranged, and redecorated the house - redecorated as in we hung some pictures and moved a clock. It looks a lot better now, better than it did before I left.