My wife is an incredible person, and I can't imagine how she has handled the events at our house the last few weeks as well as she has. For those of you not in the know, we agreed to have some house remodeling done, which started in mid-January and the first phase was completed this past weekend. Ok, there were a few minor hurdles that have come up since the back room was completed, including some painting, a few nicks in the wall, and some sealer that wouldn't dry right.
The first phase of the construction is to add two rooms to the back of the house, a new family and television room and a room for our collective of felines. Yes, folks, we have a bunch of cats that live with us, and up to this point, they've had free reign of the house, which usually isn't a problem. However, at certain points, the cats leave their hair and pee wherever they want. Some of this is involuntary, but the peeing thing is usually marking territory for whatever reason. When you have a big group of them, sometimes they don't get along and that usually braces for a turf war. This whole issue doesn't lend itself to inviting people over for social gatherings, because up until now, it involved a massive clean up effort after trapping the cats temporarily. Now, they have their own room and are away from everybody. Plus, with some big windows and a couple of window ledges to lay on, the cats will finally have space for their own.
To get to this point, we've had to deal with construction noise and the constant barrage of questions and noise. I've had the ability to get away from things by escaping to the relative sanity of my office, a massive cube farm collective. My wife, though, works from home and so she's on the front line, and can't get away no matter what. Seeing the rewards this weekend with the new room were worth the temporary problems, even with a few things that have happened later on. The cable wasn't hooked up right, the sealer on the concrete pad didn't dry right so we couldn't put the cats in there, and right now, the downstairs of our house is a construction zone with walls disappearing.
I got another huge dose of reality yesterday when we put our cats in our room and the office temporarily so that they would be safe from the construction noise. Figuring this was a one day thing, what bad could possibly happen if they had to live in a room for day? Well, getting home at the end of a rough day at work, I was told as I got home that the sealer was still having issues, so the cats would have to remain locked up in the rooms for the night until today. So, two cats were in our room all night, while we heard the other cats yowling and scratching in the office wanting to get out. I tried to use my computer in the office to do some things, but instead, the cats simply yowled and howled to get out, and let me know what they thought of being locked up.
Cats, like kids, are difficult to reason with simply because they can't understand why you as parents or caregivers do what you do. We locked up the cats simply to keep them from the construction noise and potential danger, although telling them this doesn't mean anything. They wanted out, period, which meant me saying a lot of times that "No, you need to stay in here." Later on, I went into our room with our two special cats, and they were very upset about being locked up, but once I laid down on the bed to watch television, they didn't seem to mind. Well, initially anyway.
About 9 PM when Lost came on, the boy cat started yowling to get out. He was a feral cat that my wife saved after his parents were killed by a car, and was only days old when he became a member of the family. And while he's the sweetest cat about, he's extremely skittish around unfamiliar people and noises. He didn't understand why he needed to be locked up, and spent most of the day hiding under our bed until that point, when he decided to scream to get out. I went up to him to ask what was wrong, and put him near the water and litter box to see if that was it, and he fought that at first. After a few attempts, he finally drank some water and used the box for what seemed like the first time of the day. He wasn't happy about being confined, but at the same point, explaining it to him doesn't mean anything if he can't understand what construction means.
Going to bed later on, the cats sort of settled in but once the lights went out, it became more of wandering about and making noise. My wife sleeps very lightly, so she hears everything and so she didn't sleep much last night. I had to spend a few times getting up to grab the cat and put him back on the bed to go back to sleep with some reassuring words and signs of affection. I felt like we were dealing with a newborn, and in this case, we had two cats and so there were two young ones about. The girl cat is blind, and while she's very sweet, she's also extremely curious about things and so she gets into everything. At some point, I heard my wife yell at them both for sitting on her night stand because they wanted to, even though there wasn't any room. About the time I got to sleep, another noise riled them up and it was on again. At 5:45 AM, I woke up to feed them in the morning simply to get them to settle in, and they finally laid down to sleep for a bit until the other cats stirred about.
I've never hated an alarm clock more until this morning when it rang at 7 AM and it was time to prepare for the construction crew to arrive. The remainder of the morning was tending to cats while keeping them locked up, showering and eating a bit of food. I showed up at work today exhausted and just hoping for a quiet day at work. Well, the phone rang quite a bit, but so far, it was a quietly mellow day and that was what I needed. I got a chance to get away from the cats, the house, the changes, but yet all it did was give me a greater appreciation about what my wife deals with daily. I can't imagine what it would be like to deal with constant interruptions so that you can't get anything done, and while I do deal with that in my current job, it's a bit different because home is supposed to be slightly more stable, and our house right now is anything but.
I'm already looking forward to the end result, and want to thank my wife for everything she is doing to keep our house going. Tonight, the cats get to settle in to their new home, and we will be one day closer to having the house of our dreams. Nothing good comes without a price, and right now, our price to have this work done is paying for our dream with money, sanity and sleep. I'll remember these days later this summer hanging in the new room, and look back at these issues as temporary hurdles towards a greater good. Granted, I am starting to do that now, but that doesn't make the here and now any easier to deal with unless you keep the greater good in mind.