The Crap Family Bathtub

 Posted by on March 20, 2012  Add comments  Tagged with:
Mar 202012

I’ve become somewhat famous (well, not really. OK, not at all) for writing about our family misadventures, but the truth is that we probably don’t have any more of them than any other family. It may seem like we have more, erm…foibles than the average family, but that’s because I choose to write about them for your general amusement (and also my own). I liken it to how the world sometimes seems scarier and more dangerous now because the news media covers every single horrific event in excruciating detail.

Truth be told, immediately following a Crap Family episode, I’m usually pretty mad, or at least supremely annoyed. But then, about three days later, I start to see the humor in it, and then the whole mess becomes actually pretty funny, in a weird, morbid sort of way.

Take last weekend, for example. We decided that finally, finally, after more than 3 months, my husband would paint our hideous, salmon pink, 70s-variety porcelain bathtub. Aside from painting the woodwork, and cabinet/drawer fronts, this is the last really major step toward completing the painfully slow and tedious bathroom remodeling project. We optimistically purchased one of those Rustoleum epoxy acrylic resurfacing kits, and my husband read the back of the box about 90 times, along with every web site article he could find. Because I have asthma, and we read that epoxy paint fumes are very strong, I reserved a room for us at the local hotel. We’ve been having strangely warm (but delightful) weather, so our plan was to leave all the windows open and let the house air out overnight, while we slept peacefully, and without danger of toxic chemical poisoning, at the hotel.

When I called to reserve a room, I was told that there were only 2 non-smoking rooms available, and both were suites. Since the price difference was negligible, I opted for the 2-room whirlpool suite, so my husband and I could have privacy. Because, I’m just going to be honest here….I love my husband madly. Amid the hustle and bustle of raising kids, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there was once a time when we were a couple, and wildly attracted to each other at that. We hadn’t been alone, without distractions, for a long time, and I was still naively viewing this weekend as a mini-vacation – punctuated here and there by brief periods of unpleasant work – during which we could rekindle our long-neglected, though not forgotten romance.

So, on Saturday afternoon, I took the kids to the hotel, while my husband stayed behind to clean and acid-etch the tub, to prepare the surface for painting. The kids were extremely enthusiastic about the hotel stay, and they chattered gleefully all the way down the corridor to the elevator, while I trailed behind them, dragging a cumbersome luggage cart heaped with the required 14 suitcases, portable crib, snacks, pool noodles, and fully-inflated floating devices that are necessary when traveling with children – even if you’re only going to be a mile from home. As soon as we managed to maneuver our way into the elevator – and I mean immediately after the doors shut – DJ, who is obsessed with buttons and levers, pushed the Call for Help button. Bee and I stood, frozen, listening to the automated dialing, and wondering what we should do, when a disembodied voice said, “Ma’am, is everything all right?”

I was incapacitated momentarily by the realization that there was clearly a security camera in the elevator, and therefore the entire hotel staff could see us, which induced a mental flashback of all the embarrassing things I’ve probably done in elevators in my lifetime, but I snapped out of it when Bee said, in a very grown-up manner, “Oh, we’re sorry…our baby pushed the button.” I finally found my tongue, and chimed in to reassure the invisible elevator lady. As the doors opened to our floor, I yelled, “Don’t worry! It’s OK…I’m so sorry, everything is fine…” and at that very moment, because it took me so long to get the luggage cart out of the elevator, the doors began to shut on Cakes, who was not all the way out yet. Of course, they opened right back up, as they do when they encounter resistance, and Cakes was completely unharmed, but she let out a scream of epic proportions.

As I’ve frequently said to my husband, I don’t think we need to worry about her being mugged, because she will scream like a banshee and fight like a rabid badger.

I could hear the elevator lady saying, over and over, “Ma’am? Are you sure everything’s OK?” I called over my shoulder, as we traipsed down the hall, “Fine. Everything’s fine!” while Cakes clung to my arm, and DJ asked repeatedly, “OK? You OK? Mommy, she OK?”

We passed an older couple, and they gave each other a look that read, “Oh dear God…please don’t put them in the room next to us. PLEASE!” After nearly 10 years of parenting, and 2 years of dragging around what is, essentially, a 3-ring circus everywhere I go, I’ve become quite accustomed to these looks.

After we got settled in our room, I took the kids down to the pool. They were excited beyond belief, and didn’t even care that it was slightly murky, and chlorinated to within an inch of its life. My husband arrived soon after we got there, so we all played, and splashed, and had a good time. DJ stood at the edge and said, “Ready….Two…Set….Go…JUMP!” and then leaped into my arms, no less than 400 times in a row. Afterward, we walked to the Dairy Queen for supper, and here’s where the downward spiral began. On the walk back, Cakes, who insisted on wearing flip-flops, tripped and fell in the DQ’s asphalt parking lot. She had only a minor scrape on her knee, and yet she screamed, in shrill, histrionic, crazy Cakes fashion, all the way down the street to the hotel.

My husband went home to put the first coat of paint on the tub, and I took the kids upstairs to get ready for bed. They were thrilled to be able to sit in the whirlpool tub and watch TV while they took their bath, except the tub wouldn’t hold water, and they couldn’t hear the TV over the bubbling noise, so the allure wore off quickly. When I got them into their PJs, and pulled out the sofa bed in the main room, I discovered that the blanket was full of diamond-shaped holes, as if the previous room tenants had attempted to turn it into a giant, green velour snowflake, such as we used to make in elementary school.

I kid you not. You just can’t make this stuff up, people.

I called down to complain about the blanket, and when the desk clerk brought us a new one, she regarded me suspiciously, and tried to look past me into the room, as if I and my heathen offspring had brought along our safety scissors and massacred the blanket ourselves just to annoy her.

When I finally got the girls settled, I set up the hotel’s “portable crib” (a pack-n-play), which had an orange, vomitus-type stain creeping down the side, for DJ. I gave him his cubby bear, and his ratty orange kitty, and turned off the lights, but as soon as I retreated to our room and shut the door, DJ began to cry.

At this point, I was becoming painfully aware that something awful was brewing in my stomach. I felt sick and crampy and miserable, and I had already spent an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom since we got back to the room (I was really beginning to regret the chili dog I ate at Dairy Queen). DJ absolutely refused to lay down in the porta-crib, and he freaked out if I even left his sight, so I had no choice but to take him into the bathroom with me. The girls gave up on trying to sleep, and turned all the lights and the TV back on. My husband returned, and he was upset. The supposedly “self-leveling” paint, which could be “brushed on, rolled on, or sprayed on!” was not leveling itself as promised. It was full of runs and brush marks, and he was very unhappy with it, but after 45 minutes of semi-anguished discussion and debate, he decided to go back home and give it a second coat anyway, hoping that it would turn out better.

While he was gone, in between bathroom visits, I tried, in vain, to get DJ to lay down in the porta-crib. He refused. It was after 10:00, the girls were getting tired, and I was feeling very weak and exhausted from dealing with my 3 spirited children, and my new friend, E. Coli, so I decided to just put the porta-crib in a corner of our room. I told DJ that Mommy was going to go to sleep, so DJ needed to sleep too. He nodded solemnly and said, “OK, Mommy. I will. Of course.”

Yeah, right.

He chattered to himself. He climbed in and out. He even sang a little song. He stood up several times in the crib and tickled my foot, which was dangling off the bed, and then giggled at his own amusingness. When I continued to feign sleep and ignore him, DJ finally settled down and went to sleep, probably because I had been silently making plea bargains with God in my head for a half hour, and He took pity on me.

I had only been sleeping for what seemed like a few minutes when my husband returned, looking forlorn and dejected because the bathtub still looked terrible. I could tell that he was also very disappointed to find DJ in our room, because he’s a married man with 3 young children, who hasn’t seen his wife naked in weeks, which in man time is more like YEARS, and he was clearly hoping to salvage what had turned into a very crappy evening. I told him that given my current horrific stomach scenario, nothing was going to happen anyway, so he may as well forget it and go to sleep. By now it was midnight, and we both fell into a fitful, exhausted slumber, which was disturbed every hour by DJ waking up, overtired and afraid because he was in a strange room, and crying, “MOMMY!”

The next morning, the girls woke us up bright and early, so we could enjoy the hotel’s carb-laden, but free, continental breakfast. My stomach was still in an uproar, and DJ took one bite of his Froot Loops and barfed all over the table. That pretty much clinched it for us. We decided that even though we still had several hours until check-out, we were going home.

Sunday was a warm, glorious, sunny day, but I missed it because (in between bathroom trips), I spent the whole afternoon dozing on the sofa in my pajamas. The girls played outside, DJ took a 4-hour nap, and my husband crouched over the tub for hours, scraping off the paint (which he had just applied the night before) with a razor blade, so next weekend he can start over fresh with a paint sprayer, and hopefully achieve better results.

And we wasted $120 on a hotel room, for absolutely nothing.

When we were leaving the hotel, wearily dragging all of our junk, and watching our kids giggle, and skip, and gallop down the hall in front of us, my husband turned to me and said, “Look at that…”

That…this family we started.”
“Oh, that.” I was tired and sick, and not in the greatest of humors.

“Our life is funny,” observed my husband.

I wasn’t amused. “Nothing we ever, EVER do works out the way it’s supposed to!” I said, exasperated. “But it makes for good Crap Family posts, if nothing else.”

My husband smiled. “In 15 years, this will all be over. We’ll meet another couple, dragging their own little kids down a hotel corridor, and we’ll say, ‘Remember that time when we tried to refinish our bathtub?'”

I knew that what he was really trying to say is, “Someday, we’re going to miss this.”

And he’s right.

So yes, we are the Crap Family. But it’s the crap that makes us closer, and stronger, and better.


  24 Responses to “The Crap Family Bathtub”

  1. I can’t believe this post made me cry. 

  2. Ahhhhh! I laughed my butt off…and then I cried. What will we do when this season is over? Still teary eyed. Oh. Man…

  3. Ok, so I cried a little at the end too.  Beautiful story.  🙂

  4. I agree with the last comment….I was not expecting to tear up at this post…but the ending did it to me. What a great guy you have to, in the midst of all of the frustration of the tub, can look at the reality of the situation. This will turn into a funny story that you tell over and over in the years to come. And he is right…someday we will all see young families and feel very wistful that this time has come and gone for us.

    Well done!

  5. Oh Heather.  What a rough trip.  But way to go Glen, for having the perspective he did.  And, judging from the good times had at the pool, I wouldn’t say your money was totally wasted.  🙂

  6. Thank you so much for your post that show real life even if it’s not pretty!I love your
    post and read them regularly.I am a SAHM of two and I can definitely relate.It’s nice to find a christian mom who will admit to not being perfect because as I’m raising my kids in a christian home also.It’s nice to know it’s ok to be good enough sometimes!

  7. Great story! What a disaster though 🙁 I hope your stomach felt better fast.

  8. That is crazy! I’m so sorry and I hope you are feeling better!

    …it IS funny to read about, though. What great family memories you are making!

  9. I also became choked up when I read about your hotel and tub “misadventures”.  Thank you Heather for your willingness to openly and honestly share your life with us.  I think your story was so moving because of your insight into your husband’s words, “In 15 years, this will all be over”.  I have recently become a huge fan of your blog and have been trying to organize my house based on your practical tips.  Like you, I have a wonderful husband and 2 daughters and a son ages 6, 4, and 1. I was wondering if you have any other tips for frugal grocery shopping.  Are you still able to shop for a family of 5 for only $60 a week?  It seems like food basics have risen so much lately.  Also, do you ever try to buy organic meats, fruits and vegetables while still keeping in the budget?  Thank you so much for your tips and moving words. I too have to remind myself when leading the “3 ring circus” that this joy (and craziness) will not last forever.

  10. I’m glad I’m not the only one who got weepy in the end! Hope you are all feeling better.

  11. I’m so sorry you and DJ got sick, but that’s the only thing that kept me from rolling on the floor laughing while reading this.  It’s hard to believe all this happened in a 24 hr. period.  I heard once that stories only happen to people who can tell them.  Perhaps you’re “blessed” with these experiences because you can do them justice in the retelling.  I hope you are feeling much better and the bathtub is fixed soon — It’s going to be beautiful when it’s finished.

  12. Oh my sorry the Crap family chose to pay a visit after such a long hiatus. The visual of Cakes potentially screaming like a banshee and fighting like a rabid nadger had me giggling.

    Hope Round 2 of the tub refinishing goes much smoother for everyone.

  13. *rabid Badger

  14. Heather – there were two things that I enjoyed most about this post   1) the perspective – I’m one of your older readers, so for me it is quite poignant to read about your younger-than-mine children.  And your husband is quite right, that you will look back on these memories in years to come with wistfulness that those times are over.  We do that now, and I miss those baby-toddler-small child years, while I enjoy the middle school-teenager-young adult years we’re in now. 

    And 2) your honesty in a tasteful way about your physical affection for and connection with your husband.  We live in a world that increasingly glorifies sex for its own sake totally out of the marital relationship, which I think makes physical love between a man and a woman cheap and coarse and meaningless. While my religious background is not exactly the same as yours, I appreciate your openness about that love you two share.  A Christian woman who frankly anticipates and celebrates that special bond with her spouse provides a powerful witness to others that it is a good thing that our God has given us.  It’s a shame so many people settle for so much less than it could be.  

    Oh, and these days, when I check into a hotel with my husband and see younger couples with smaller children, we look at each other and smile, becasue we do remember those days.  And then I try to say something positive and encouraging to them.

  15. You are an amazing writer!  This post made me laught and cry, just like most days of motherhood 🙂

  16. I can relate!  Sometimes everything seems all for nothing.  Hope the tub gets fixed and you’re feeling better!

  17. Now that is a great post!!! Thanks for sharing…you are truly a blessing! God Bless you and your lovely family.

  18. That is exactly why I don’t go anywhere with my kids! I get a hard time from family members who encourage us to go on road trips/overnighters to Montreal or Niagara Falls, but I know that something like the scenario you posted will happen, so I refuse to go until both my kids are potty trained and sleeping in regular beds. You have so much more patience and perspective than I do. 

  19. Thanks for posting this Heather, I think we can all relate to days like this! I hope you are feeling better after your bout with Ecoli, take care!

  20. Love your husband’s perspective on this.  He’s absolutely right!  This was a great post!

  21. Your post ultimately made me cry:o/ 

    First, I felt sad and bummed on your behalf, and then laughed because I always have the same kind of tantrum (seriously, we shoudl compare notes, I am sure I might win on Crap family moments!!!!), but then your husbands sweet reminder….life with littles is so hard, but sometime very soon, we are going to want it back.

    sigh.  Hope your tub works out.  We are working on our kitchen and used Rustoleum for our counters. Not the best results, but at least better than before, temporarily.

  22. Heather,

    Thank you so much for this! I really needed a laugh today and I actually laughed outloud! I can identify with the Crap Family Chronicles, although we only have 1 child, he’s 3 and the most stubborn, ornery and independent little cuss I have ever come into contact with. I love the little turkey though. For example, last night we went out for supper. He was being a turkey and sat down next to me and said he and I were on a date – not Daddy! I melted. I agree with you, at the time there is no other family that has these types of things happen and it enfuriates you to no end, but we will miss it.


  23. I’ve been following your blog for awhile now and just want you to know how much I enjoy your stories, your writing style, and point of view!  Thank you for sharing and making me feel like another Mom really understands and “Gets it.”  

  24. What a great post. As horrible as a night it was, I love that you know you will miss it sometime. 

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