I did something stupid this week. Very stupid. Let me set the stage for you: we have our house listed for sale and we had scheduled an open house on Sunday afternoon. Due to some frustrating time-suckers on Saturday (a broken lawn mower AND a broken vacuum cleaner), not all of the cleaning was finished by Sunday morning. And so, my dear husband took the children to church to give me time to get the house completely show-ready. I must say that I did a fabulous job! No one would be able to tell that four children live here, apart from the number of beds (impeccably made) and the portraits on the walls (completely dust-free). There were no crumbs under the table, no toothpaste blobs in the sink, no inside-out socks stuffed into shoes in the middle of the front hall, no comic books under the couch cushions…I even washed the breakfast dishes by hand and put them away so the dishwasher would be completely empty. Unheard of!
And then, wanting the kitchen counter to be completely clear, I wiped off the dish rack and decided to hide it in the oven.
There you have it. The perfect set-up for disaster. I’m sure you can guess how this played out. Pat picked me up after church and we took the kids out for lunch and a movie during the open house. By the time we returned, everyone was eager to have a relaxing evening at home after a long day. Tired Mama didn’t have the energy to cook a big meal, or the inclination to mess up the spotless kitchen, so I opted for frozen pizzas. I flicked on the oven to preheat and then played video games with my youngest for a few minutes. I did at one point notice a somewhat unpleasant odour wafting through the house, but I assumed the oven must be burning off the last of the oven-cleaner residue from all the scrubbing I did earlier. But then I noticed the smoke and it was suddenly very apparent what I’d done. The dish rack was still in there.
I knew it was too late. I didn’t even get to enjoy that brief, unrealistic moment of thinking I could still fix it. There was no saving the situation. I turned off the oven, opened the window, apologized to everyone and then opened the oven door. After the smoke cleared a bit, this is what we saw:
And now you’re probably agreeing with me that I did something stupid this week. But wait. I haven’t yet explained the “very stupid”. You see, I have accidentally melted things in the oven on two prior occasions. And in that moment of choosing between the dishwasher and the oven in which to hide my dish rack, I briefly recalled my large Tupperware mixing bowl (which I saved before it liquefied and still use, even though it is rather warped) and the box of donuts that I was hiding from the kids (which I remembered before the cardboard caught fire, but after the plastic window on the top of the box melted all over the donuts), and I still opted to put the dish rack into the oven thinking that I would remember this time. Very stupid.
My husband helped me open more windows, then hugged me as I moaned and apologized and moaned some more. He carried the oven racks out to the front porch to cool, then started brainstorming some possible ways to clean up the oven. He gathered scrapers and steel wool and we started picking at the plastic. After a while, it cooled enough that we were able to pop the bulk of it off in one piece. By that time, everyone was really hungry, so we gave up on the cleaning job and I whipped up some Kraft Dinner. Throughout the ordeal, we all had fun dreaming up different ways to use my renovated dish rack. The children also thought I should melt some more, in a variety of colours, and call it art. We all laughed at my ridiculous mistake, and without being mean, laughed at a few mistakes made by each other.
After our delicious and nutritious meal, we all sat down to watch an old episode of “Amazing Race”. It was fascinating (and rather horrifying) to observe a dating couple who were talking marriage and yet every time the woman didn’t know which way to turn or struggled with a physical challenge, the man yelled, swore and belittled her. In a game! I hope that our children noticed the contrast between that couple and us. I certainly did! Not that our relationship is perfect by anyone’s standards, but boy, did that couple make us look good! And boy, did that episode, on the heels of my dangerous and expensive mistake, make me appreciate the depth of character displayed by my husband.
I’m writing partly because I want to say publicly what a great guy Pat is. But more importantly, I’m writing as an encouragement, and perhaps a warning, for young women to use this example as a standard for the men they date. Ladies, observe your guy carefully when someone makes a mistake – whether it’s a server at a restaurant, other drivers on the road, or someone at church, work or school. Does he get angry? Is he abrupt, rude, or verbally critical? Does he expect perfection in everyone around him and assume or pretend perfection in himself? If so, do not marry that man.
He may be sweet and affectionate with you now, because he’s head-over-heels in love and it’s all very romantic and exciting. But the character he displays when other people mess up is the character he will display with you when (not if) he realizes you’re not perfect. There will come a day when you mess up. It may be something small like locking your keys in your car. Or it may be something bigger like a fender-bender. Or it may be something huge like setting your barn on fire (another example from my life. Seriously.) Or it may be something so unfathomably awful that you don’t want to imagine it. How will the guy you’re with now react in any of those situations? Yeah, that ‘gentleman’ who sneers at the waitress for putting one too many cokes on your bill – how will he treat you when you spill a whole jug of lemonade on the kitchen floor? Or drive right through the garage door? Or melt a dish rack in the oven?
You deserve someone who will comfort you, help you clean up the mess, encourage you, and laugh with you until your sides hurt.