I have amazing parents that have always worked hard to provided me with a great life. Although I think sweet ‘thank you’ cards, hugs, and telling them I love them has been an adequate show of gratitude in the past, I recently decided to go a little further. Here is how I gave back to my parents.
My parents have given me so much. They have given me a great example of a happy marriage (25 years in the books already!), have taken me on amazing vacations, and have supported my endeavors (cheering me on at soccer and softball games, plugging their ears while I practiced guitar, supporting my desire to travel and creation of this blog). They have always let me be my own person; from displaying my personality while decorating my childhood room (think blue walls and pink tulle canopies) to independently deciding my college and career paths. They have shown me the importance of a strong support system through life’s ups and downs. They funded my education at UCDavis, allowing me to exit the university system debt free. They allowed me to move back into their house so I could start this journey, so I could explore all that life has to offer.
With amazing parents like this, saying ‘thank you’, washing the dishes after dinner, and being a pleasant roommate was no longer enough. I felt compelled to do something more for them, to show my gratitude for all they have given me over the past 23 years in a more evident way.
I decided to re-wallpaper their downstairs bathroom. The single wallpapered wall was a striped pattern of royal blue and bubble gum pink, and the rest of the walls were painted white. The wallpaper had not been changed in over 25 years, so needless to say, it was really outdated. I saw this as the perfect project. It was a chance for me to do something nice for my parents and to earn my keep here. It was a chance to keep my dad from doing the backbreaking work himself some day (he is extremely handy, but the Parkinson’s Disease does make things difficult). Also, I have very little experience in home improvement, so I saw this as a good opportunity to learn a new skill.
I decided to take on this project while my younger brother Nick was home from college for Winter Break. Knowing that we only had to work on one wall, we figured the project would only take a day or two. Together, Nick and I researched how the process would work. We learned that we would first need to strip the old wallpaper. We took off to Lowe’s to purchase the necessary equipment: a scorer and liquid wallpaper remover. Once the walls were scored and the remover had a chance to saturate, we began to scrape off the wallpaper of our childhood. We then puttied the wall to fill any holes or unevenness. We left the putty to dry overnight.
Once we had picked out and purchased the new wallpaper, we readied ourselves for our last day of work: putting up the new wallpaper. As we were just about to start working, our dad asked Nick and I to do some work on the other walls as well. Of course, we could not refuse his request. My dad requested that we repaint the 3 remaining walls and the ceiling. As a family, we went to Lowe’s again and I picked out a nice grey color (called Pearl Ash) that would match the wallpaper, and a crisp white for the ceiling. I then washed the walls (simply run a damp cloth over the surfaces you will paint to remove any dust), removed the medicine cabinet and light fixtures, and began painting. Ultimately, the walls took three coats of Pearl Ash and the ceiling one coat of white over a two day period. With the other walls done, Nick and I focused our attention back to wallpapering. We sanded the wall to create a flawlessly smooth finish and began the process of wallpapering. To sum it up quickly, it was an extremely tedious and frustrating process.
This frustration however, made it all the more worthwhile. Knowing that my brother and I were saving my dad the trouble of someday completing this project himself was really rewarding. Despite the annoyance of the task, laughter from my brother and I echoed from the bathroom. It was great bonding. After a few hours of work, Nick and I were so proud to show our parents the finished product!
Well, our parents must have really loved the work we did because they asked yet again to continue the renovation project. I was asked to refinish the wood cupboards. I agreed, only slightly begrudgingly. With my dad’s help, he and I sanded and stained the bathroom cupboards to a more blonde wood finish. I then painted the light fixture white to tie the colors together, got a trashcan to match, and put up new artwork. Finally, after five days, our one-day project was done! My mom has already requested that I repaint and refinish her upstairs bathroom, so I am sure this won’t be the last time I show my handy work.
Through this process, I was able to really spend some quality time with my brother and dad. Even if exasperated sighs were the only sounds being made, we bonded. This is something that we did together, my bother, father and I. I also learned that I can cross handyman of my list of possible career choices. Although I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, there is no future for me in construction or carpentry. I will, however, keep interior designer as a possibility. It was really fun picking out paint, wallpaper, and artwork, conceptualizing an image in my mind that I brought to reality.
Ultimately, the renovation was extremely rewarding. Not only was I able to learn a new skill, but I was able to manifest the gratitude I feel for my parents in a physical aspect. I hope every time they pass by the downstairs bathroom, they feel the warmth in their hearts for me that I feel for them.
How do you give back to the ones you love? Let me know below.