When the Houston forecast called for snow in February of this year, we were ecstatic. As moms, we wanted our kids to see something that they can only see on ski trips in Colorado. We hunkered down, and the February freeze forecast proved true – snow covered streets and impromptu snow day fun with neighbors. We attempted bundling up the kids since heavy jackets aren’t common in Texas. We tied utility rope to golf carts for cruising around (on garbage can lids) in a last-minute sled attempt around the neighborhood ditches and streets.
Unexpected fun. Until, it wasn’t.
The lights turned off. Fires in the living room became our source of heat. Pool water was boiled to wash dishes and clothes. And the pipes froze. They busted. They flooded and destroyed homes. Suddenly, this rare snow day in Houston became a February freeze and an absolute nightmare.
As I sit down to write out what life has been like in a home undergoing renovations, my heart is starting to race, and I feel the heaviness. We did not expect our lives to be completely turned upside down due to the February freeze. We do hurricanes like pros. We even do rain like it’s our second job. We did not see snow coming in to destroy our safe place. The place where we hunker down when the world outside seems scary and crowded. The place we have been told to stay since March 2020.
We are approaching the end of summer now. For so many of us with busted pipes and home renovations ongoing since the February freeze, we are weary. It shouldn’t be taking close to the snow-anniversary to get our homes back to what they were before. Insurance chaos, contractor no-shows, shipment and supply delays – more obstacles in an already unfair race.
Not long ago, I walked into my empty bedroom (which will one day have new floors due to water spewing from the pipes, through the walls, and underneath the hardwoods) and cried. Our place. Where we lay our heads down at night after parenting and adulting. Where my kids come when they have a nightmare. That’s gone for now. And it’s hard.
We are hesitant to share our struggles because so much is going on in an already cruel world. Tensions and fears are up again because of the lingering pandemic. Work is hard for so many, and we are approaching yet another school year filled with uncertainty. We hear “it could be so much worse” or “think how pretty it will all be when it’s done.” We wonder if we should be more grateful. We question all the things all the time.
I now see why the aftermath of hurricanes or another other weather-related events can cause PTSD. It’s not just the rising waters or busted pipes, it’s the dominoes that fall slowly after the weather is gone. It’s scary to have your home interrupted then hit issue after issue wondering when you will feel safe in your safe place again.
I know one day my new bathroom, closet, and master bedroom will be even more beautiful than it was pre-pipe palooza. I know I am lucky that we have the means and the time to return our home to a home. But, for now, I am exhausted mentally, and I am not the only one. Yes, we will see how pretty it is when it is done. But, right now, we are longing for the safety that comes with home.
If any of your Houston friends are still in the midst of February freeze renovations, meet those weary friends where they are. Tell them you’re sorry this happened. Hug them if you can. Ask them what they need. Don’t tell them how pretty it will all be and for them to choose joy. We can’t see it just yet.
That rare snow day we longed for back in February was great until it wasn’t. It’s not over. Sleds, snowmen, and bundling up is now fighting with insurance, begging contractors to show up, and dreaming of the end date.
We extend our love to all Houstonians who are still struggling after that February freeze week. We are meeting you where you are. And we can’t wait until your babies can sneak in your new rooms for the cuddles to make us all feel safe at home again.