I painted my guest room today. It made me think of all the rooms I have painted in the last 11 years.

The living room of the first home I purchased. I was so excited to own my own home after years of apartment living. I had my first real job after graduate school, and felt single and empowered while picking out paint colors at Home Depot. Of course, I did still hope that Mr. Right would show up sometime soon. He didn’t.

The child’s room for the home study to become a foster parent. I will always remember the name of the light blue color swatch, as it foreshadowed the heartbreak a year later when the judge sent her back to her biological mother. It was called “Salty Tears.” After she left I didn’t open the door to her room for six months. Eventually I repainted it a dark blue and moved into that room. The color was soothing to look at, all alone.

The baby’s room for the home study to adopt internationally. I was so proud of the nursery décor I picked out. A bright cheery yellow beckoned that hope was on the horizon. After the adoption fell through, I took all the unused bedding and decorations and dumped them at Goodwill. I couldn’t have them in the house in my grief.

The baby’s room, again, when I was 7 months pregnant. I kept the yellow, but changed the wall border and bedding. In my heart I couldn’t hope that I would actually bring a baby home, so I kept my distance. But my heart swells now when I think of that little room. It’s where I rocked and nursed my daughter, and where she laughed for the first time.

The entire downstairs of the new house, with 72 hours before the movers came with all the furniture. I couldn’t paint with a two year old underfoot, so I frantically painted during daycare hours in 100 degree heat since the A/C wasn’t working yet. I would pick her up at 5 PM drenched in sweat and covered in paint, but excited about our new home.

And today, I made it an afternoon activity since I knew she would enjoy it. I got out her smock, taught her how to keep the paint from dripping and what a dropcloth was for. I answered a hundred questions about paint because 4 1/2 year olds never run out of questions. She did the bottom of the wall while I did the top. Later, I did another coat over her part while she slept in the next room, but she won’t know. And I felt proud. I’m proud that my daughter watches me fix things and figure out whatever needs to be done in our house. I never saw my own mother do home repair; she had many other wonderful qualities, but anything like that was a task for my dad. I’m proud that my daughter will assume that she is capable of taking on such a project. And I’m proud that I have painted so many walls, with layers of sadness and hope and joy. And I wonder what walls I will paint next.



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