Saturday, November 4, 2017

Deferred Maintenance

Midmorning, Grey, the Beats and I made our way to the U.S. Post office to deal with passports. For Grey and me, our passports are expiring and require us to submit renewals; for the Beats, it's the first time we've applied for them. Following pictures being taken and both Beats settling in with our phones so we could finalize applications, the postal worker asked us why we haven't applied sooner. After all, most people pursuing these applications when their children are infants. The quiets pause that followed with her scanning the looks on both our faces basically gave her the answer she needed with her announcing "Say no more!" in order to proceed with the process.

Yesterday, Grey and I learned the oil tank for our heating system is leaking. Our landlord, who inherited the property from her mother, has been completely beside herself with the knowledge that this not only has to be replaced but is going to be far more expensive than if she (or her mother) had done the preventative maintenance. Thankfully that replacement is scheduled to happen (otherwise this would be a very different post), but it's gotten me thinking more and more about maintenance and how Grey and I have been finally doing a lot of it after years of deferral.

The passports are one sign. This is something we should have done long ago, but were unable to (read finances and time). Household technology has been on that list and so has car maintenance (Lenny is long overdue for a full detailing job). But there are other things too. Purging has been happening as well as doctor's appointments. Dead last on the list that neither Grey or I have touched has been self-care. Both with pulling out his bike and me just getting time to take a long, hot bath.

One would argue that parenthood has been the issue, but the truth is a lot of this deferred maintenance stems from years before. With fertility treatments, where all extra time and resources were being sapped to dealing with the condo (and all the problems there) to even helping family. Time and again, we've put ourselves last, hoping for a period where we'll find some time in order to catch up.

But the truth has been, that time has come due to the need for it to happen. The oil tank is an excellent analogy for this as that sucker is extremely corroded. And yet, until yesterday, everyone involved with the property was telling us not to worry and that it would be taken care of at a later date. Even though planning out a replacement would have allowed for time to shop around and plan, allowing for a smoother transition instead of the situation that they are now facing (compounded by the fact that our lease is official broken and we are legally free to leave, leaving the landlord to lose tens of thousands of dollars if we do). Grey and I are in a similar boat with parts of our lives.

Because the reality is, we couldn't afford to tend to ourselves until now. We couldn't afford to think about anything beyond basic survival for years. And the sad thing is we are not abnormal. So many around us are forced to make similar choices that those in positions of privilege fail to see. So many of us are beyond burnout, craving time to heal just a little bit but cannot afford to.

So we slowly chip away at the things we can. Passports, updating legal information, careers, dreams and life.


  1. I like the idea of "maintenance," for yourself & your relationships as well as the mechanical & household stuff. Sometimes, yes, the money just isn't there for it, but the longer you postpone it, the more expensive it can potentially be in the long run, when repairs or replacement become necessary. Food for thought, thanks!

  2. Beautiful (if unfortunate) analogy. I am glad you have the ability to do that maintenance, to take the hot baths and go for the bike rides and spend time on self-care. You're right, that goes first when things are tough and arguably it should be high on the priority list. I hope everything works out with the oil tank replacement, and you continue to be able to take care of you and the two of you!


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