I was not blessed with ability to construct or mend things. Now, it can be argued that no skills, other than those necessary for life, are truly innate, but I’m convinced some are destined to be bad at certain tasks from the moment they are born. I would argue my handiwork around the house is proof.
I once turned one of those build-it-yourself bookshelves into something that more resembled an avante garde art piece I could have called “Frustrations in particleboard.” Within my bathroom are the remains of my handiwork attempting to fix drywall imperfections before painting. Instead of filling holes to create a flat, smooth surface, I now have the drywall equivalent of an acne-riddled teen’s face. Hanging in the living room are four floating shelves I constructed. Sure, they are efficient as shelves, but they are about as attractive as open sores thanks to my adeptness with saws, hammers and nails.
And while I have attempted to mend many things, the act invariably results in me making the problem far, far worse and takes, at minimum, seven hours.
But things seem to be changing.
Over the course of a weekend, I changed the fluorescent tube that illuminates my kitchen sink without an issue. And if you are laughing at the fact I am heralding my efforts to change a lightbulb without a problem, you clearly do not understand my ineptitude at making improvements around the house.
Later that same day, I replaced a faulty fill valve on a toilet without flooding my home or turning the toilet into ceramic dust. This was the same toilet I once took apart entirely over the course of six hours to diagnose why it was running, only to find out all I needed to do was take 30 seconds to replace a gasket.
Less than 24 hours after the toilet-fix miracle, I replaced the light fixture in a bathroom, and as you may have guessed, I lived to tell the story. And though I’m still a bit paranoid, there have been no electrical fires yet and the light has not come crashing down on my head as I brush my teeth.
What could be the reason for this newfound ability to mend things? I think it is a result of becoming a father.
Growing up, it seemed as if everyone’s father could construct the Sydney Opera House with a few 2x4s and the tools in his garage, and rare was the day when something was broken beyond a dad’s ability to fix it.
I do not believe the skills are bestowed upon you as soon as your little bundle of joy is born, rather, it is the leadup to their arrival. Experience pays dividends, and I received plenty of practice constructing and mending things ahead of my daughter’s birth.
After all, there was a room that needed painting, so of course I tried my hand at drywall repair again. There was also a crib, two dressers and a glider that needed to be put together. And then fixed because I was putting them together.
There were shelves to be hung and all kinds of baby accessories needed assembly.
And with my daughter arriving weeks early, all of these things were done in a ridiculous hurry, providing me with a crash course in constructing things. And, perhaps my ability to mend a toilet and change a light fixture showed that the experience paid off.
So, if you want to become handy with a hammer, have a baby.