The ladies were all so nice to me. We went out to lunch together, and sometimes one of them would invite Dan and me over for supper. Their houses were clean, their lawns were manicured and their time seemed relaxed. Back at my house, the manager of the mobile home park was leaving threatening notices on my front door to clean up the mess in the yard.
Dan and I worked together to build a bigger shed. We needed the spare room and the crib because we had another baby on the way. As quickly as it was erected, it was filled up with stuff. In went the box of ironing, the pink taffeta covered cardboard dresser, the three gallon spaghetti pan and the piles of couponing and refunding junk. It all could have stayed reasonably contained, if only we had finished the project by adding a door. More space in the shed just meant more stuff. No door on the shed meant that our little mobile home lot looked like a perpetual flea market. The key word here is “flea.”
Somehow projects never got finished. The shed did not have a door. Our yard had a garden, but no lawn. I made curtains for our front window, but never hung them. Dan got a course and a half of brick laid for a planter, but ran out of mortar before the job was done. In December of that year, we took a wonderful drive up to the mountains with my family to cut a Christmas tree. We brought it home and left it out in the yard until the needles fell off sometime in March. It seemed that we never had enough time to finish a project before the next one came along. With my husband gone to work all day, another baby on the way, and an infant who split her time between sticking everything in her mouth and pooping her cloth diapers, I felt helpless. Even if I had the time to hang a door on the shed or put up the Christmas tree, I totally lacked the skill.
Now as a full-fledged adult I was right back to where I had been on my eleventh birthday: My house looked like crap, and I did not understand why. Nobody else in my circle of friends had homes that looked like mine. I felt different, and somehow wrong. I tried to keep a positive attitude. I worked harder and longer every day. I went to Bible study every Wednesday and smiled. My struggles were my secret. I was sure that if any of those Bible study ladies ever found out what a mess my house was, I would be back to calling the Adolph’s recipe hotline.