We’d been in our first house a little over a year when it came time to stain the deck. This was before YouTube, before you just googled “How to stain a deck” and 22 pages of tutorials showed up. We could’ve fired up the dial-up modem and hoped that maybe, just maybe, some guy named Doug had the forethought to post his deck-staining experiences on a message board. But we were young, stubborn and dumb, so we just went to Home Depot and bought what looked like proper deck staining stuff. We probably grumbled about how many frozen margaritas it would buy us at Chili’s Happy Hour.
When I say “we,” what I really mean is Mike. I mean, I’m sure I looked at the deck once or twice. And I’m sure I tagged along to Home Depot, since this was pre-kids and staying home alone was torturous instead of the best present you could give a girl. But when it came to actually staining the deck? Mike was on his own.
My dad didn’t involve me in home improvement projects, and I’m not sure I even knew the difference between a flat-head and a Phillips screwdriver. And it was at this point in our marriage that I realized my dear husband was only a smidgen handier around the house than I was.
“Something’s wrong with this *&(^# deck stain, Angie!”
The deck was a pale, barely-tinted reddish-brown where Mike had started. Looking down at my dear husband, towards the end of the deck, it was bright red. I asked Mike, sweaty, dejected, and covered in deck stain, “You mixed the stain before you started, right?” His shoulders slumped, and I had my answer.
I had an ombré deck before it was cool, and before it had the chance to go viral on Pinterest. And I also had an unhandy husband.
I spent the next 10 years or so being slightly afraid whenever Mike went near the toolbox. I also had no shame in joking about it in front of friends. And then, while I was too busy teasing or discouraging him when he talked about home improvement projects, Mike went out and got handy on me.
How handy? Since we’ve moved into this house alone he’s:
- changed out multiple light fixtures (not lightbulbs … even I can do that).
- installed surround sound in our living room.
- painted Elena’s room ombré… on purpose.
- fixed the broken HD TV in the basement … seriously, he brought it back from the dead!
- built a scooter parking station for the kids.
Before that? He built us a new patio.
And every few months he changes the oil in my car.
And now there’s this:
He’s building me a bench and shelf in the laundry room, so I’ll finally have the functional mud room I’ve always dreamed of owning. Building it, I say! With his own bare hands!
Not only am I in awe (and very, very proud) of my handy hubby, it’s made me realize that I can be quick to judge and size up a person’s abilities. Am I doing it to friends, coworkers, my kids? Probably. And what have I told myself that I “am,” that surely couldn’t change?
I think it takes a lot of courage to admit you’re not skilled at something, and work at it anyways. It would’ve been a lot easier for Mike to throw his hands up, admit defeat, and pay someone else to do it. But man, am I glad he didn’t. For one, what an incredible example for our kids. And also? It’s totally appropriate to swoon around the handyman … when you’re married to him.