We had a tough schedule: lawn work, window washing, garden prep, flower and shrub shopping and planting, spray painting outdoor flower pots that were showing their age, building new flower boxes for under the windows, lots of heavy lifting, and assorted tasks that presented themselves along the way. And that was before the unexpected curve ball that was the broken pool pipe.
The pool guys had been by on Thursday to open our pool for the season. On Saturday morning, just as labor camp was getting into full swing, I discovered a soggier-than-normal back yard. Suspiciously soggier yet near all the pool pumps, gadgets, and pipes. Trying not to panic or sink into despair, I put in a call to pool guy Justin. While waiting for Justin to return my call, the kids and I knocked some of the tasks on the to-do list right out of the park. We were on fire! Definitely bringing our A-game to this labor camp.
Then Justin called, gave me his best guess on what the problem was, and what we could do if we didn’t want to wait until he could get someone out to take a look. Now the kids and I may have been coming into our own, but tackling a job that was going to involve digging down by the plumbing, finding the 90-degree pipe elbows, playing around with the valves to try to determine which of the pipes was leaking seemed a bit daunting for the three of us. Time to call the team’s Ace.
Those of you who know me have probably wondered why there hadn’t yet been mention of that Ace, husband Phil, to this point. He’s been busy wrapping up a basement remodel at my sister’s house so was off Saturday on “personal leave.” Not ideal timing, but nothing the three of us couldn’t cover. Or so we thought. After consulting with our Ace, we three armed ourselves with shovels, tarps, and buckets and attacked the soggy yard. Knowing from Justin that the elbows were about a foot underground (Lie #1), and that the break would be clearly visible when we dug that far (Lie #2), we were optimistic. (Mistake #1).
The first thing we learned was that we couldn’t “just dig.” Once upon a time, in our infinite wisdom, Phil and I decided that incorporating tons of rock into our landscaping was a good idea. Not so good when one has to find a broken pipe somewhere below said tons of rock. So, Step 1: Remove the rock. We did. Step 2: Dig. We tried. Our yard is clay. Heavy, heavy, clay. And that’s when it’s dry. Saturated with untold gallons of escaped pool water, it’s nearly immovable. At least for the two female members of the team. But, we soldiered on. We battled seeping ground water that filled the hole faster than we could dig. We sacrificed manicures (some of us) for the greater good and stuck our hands right in that heavy, cold, disgusting mud and scooped. We ignored the mud and water that seeped into our shoes and up our legs, the mud that got on our clothes and our faces. We dug, far deeper than a foot, slipped in the mud, fell in the mud, dropped a phone in the mud, sucked up countless gallons of water with the Shop Vac, and finally found those elbows. But we also laughed a lot, learned on the fly, and found that pesky leaking pipe. Oh, the joy! We were so proud of ourselves. Until we realized we had no idea what came next. Actually, we knew what came next, but cutting pipes seemed far above our paygrade. Then, at that very moment, the clouds parted, a ray of sunshine brighter than any ray of sunshine that had ever before graced our fair planet shone through and landed on the shoulders of our Ace. There he was, the answer to our troubles. I’m pretty sure I heard him humming, “Put me in, Coach, I’m ready to play…” as he jogged toward his rapidly deflating teammates.
Under Phil’s guidance, the hole got substantially larger, boards were called into duty to form barriers to hold back that offending mud, pipes were cut, pipes were replaced, and just before total darkness set in, the extra-innings marathon ended in victory for the hometown favorites.
Even with that less-than-welcome pool disaster, by the end of the weekend everything was built, painted, hauled, cleaned, planted, repaired, replaced, and washed. We even had time for ice cream sundaes on Mother’s Day.
While Phil is definitely the glue that holds together this family labor camp, the kids and I came up big in our pinch-hitting roles. While we may not have batted a thousand, we held our own. To paraphrase Christopher Robin, we learned we’re braver than we believed, stronger than we seemed, and smarter than we thought. And I’m thrilled that I’ve come up with a new Mother’s Day tradition. Same time, next year kids!
Oh, and now I just learned they’re faster than I dreamed because they’re running away like they’re stealing home in the bottom of the ninth in Game Seven of the World Series. My kids are the best!