SALT LAKE CITY — "Today would be a good day to take on a major house project," she said.
"It will be fun," she said.
When I say, "she," I am referring to the person who sits on my shoulder and tries to convince me to do things I probably shouldn't do. You know, the one who is dressed in red, has horns, a tail and a pitchfork? The one I've been warned time and time again not to listen to because she wants me to be miserable?
It was a few weeks ago when she began working her temptress ways on me. It was late at night, and I knew better.
"You've lived in this house almost a year," she said. "It's about time you hang some family pictures on the wall."
"We already have a picture on the wall," I tried to argue back. But she only laughed and reminded me that I had a total of nine children — not the five that the framed picture in my front room indicated.
"OK, fine," I surrendered as I began searching the web for a site that had reasonably priced canvas prints. "This should only take a few minutes to find and upload pictures. I can do this."
A good hour later, I had filled my cart with more pictures than I'd intended because "free shipping when you spend X amount of dollars" gets me every time.
Fast forward several weeks later when the pictures I had forgotten I ordered arrived: "she" came back.
"You can hang those up today," she said. "It won't take long — and if it does, you deserve this. All those other things you have to do today (feeding your children, cleaning the kitchen, working on writing assignments, homeschooling your child, looking for a car for your soon-to-be driving daughter) can wait. You need to do this."
As I stood there in the front room with my pile of canvas prints, I felt myself fall into a trance-like state. "Must hang pictures," is what my brain repeated as I drilled the first hole in the wall.
Then I heard another voice come from the other room. It was my husband.
"Just keep it simple," he said as he left the house to go search for a car without me. "A top row and bottom row will be easy and probably look best."
At that point, I figured that if I was already listening to voices that were not my own, why stop now? Straight rows it was.
This is when I started to feel like a crazy person, because do you know how hard it is to hang 20 8-by-8-inch canvas photos (that say they are all 8-by-8 but really aren't) in a straight line? I suddenly felt like a child who had colored outside the lines with a permanent marker when my teacher instructed me to color lightly with a crayon. It was a disaster.
"Why didn't you just hire someone to do it?" I heard a voice say.
The voice was my 16-year-old son who followed that unsolicited comment with, "That way it won't look like a 5-year-old did it."
I mean, I am trying to teach my children to speak their minds, but that was below the belt.
I took a step back and realized that he wasn't wrong. I could have handed the drill to my 5-year-old and it wouldn't have looked much different. Plus, I had marks in the wall from inadequate measurements and places where the drill slipped.
I began to be happy my husband went car shopping because he wasn't here to hear me cuss at him — or for him to cuss at me. It was best we went our separate ways today.
One hour in, and there was no end in sight. The rows weren't working and now it was lunch/nap time, which caused tired and hungry kids to congregate around me.
And they didn't just surround me with their tired and fussy selves; they began to destroy. My box of screws was now scattered, and in crevices in the couch; the canvas prints that were neatly stacked and ready to hang were now being made into a "bridge" on the floor. And I'm sure glad I heard the word "bridge" come out of my 3-year-old's mouth so I could pick all the pictures up before little boy feet punctured holes in the canvas tops.
I went into beast mode with "must hang pictures," running through my head. Time was ticking before my husband came home. No longer was I doing the straight rows he had asked for; now I was on a mission to cover up the holes.
I hung the last picture as my husband pulled in the driveway, and it only took two hours in my day that I will never get back.
Did my picture placement look good? That doesn't matter. The pictures are there, and they ain't going nowhere.
What matters is that I learned my lesson, and I learned it good: The voice that tells me I should do things that I don't have time, energy or the physical, intellectual, or mental capacity to do, is a voice I don't listen to ever, ever, or EVER.
Was there a time when you succumbed to a home project you had no business doing? Let us know your harrowing story in the comments.