When It’s Raining In Your Kitchen

 

Angelica Hagman liveHagman_RainingKitchenrevs in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and their two young boys. Her blog, Feast on the Word, helps her keep herself spiritually nourished and is one way she puts her weaknesses to work by having them highlight God’s genius. She also writes Young Adult fiction and keeps a writing blog.

It’s not even 1:30 a.m. when the baby wakes for the third time since bedtime.

Praying he’ll fall asleep again, I start feeding him and sigh.

Not that I expected the night to be blissful. Our boys rarely sleep through the night and we just returned to the U.S. from Europe earlier that day.

The transatlantic flight with two little ones was all fun and games. If your definition of fun and games is pure torture.

While I chomp on the word jet lag and push away the memory of the so-much-less-than-ideal flight, my husband heads for the bathroom.

My head lolls. So. Tired.

A loud rushing sound snaps me awake. What is my husband doing? I try to identify the sound. Sink faucet on full blast? No. He isn’t taking a shower, is he? That’s not it, either.

“Help!” At my husband’s strangled cry, I fly out of bed, leaving my wailing son behind.

My feet are wet before I even step onto the bathroom linoleum floor.

No. No, no, no.

“It’s stuck!” My husband, crouching by the toilet, is soaking wet up to his hair and near panic. “I don’t know what to do!”

I take in the scene. The water shut-off valve is stuck and the water supply connector—the hose thing that’s supposed to refill the toilet tank—has snapped and spews out water at an alarming rate. The connector is relatively short and skinny, but the fire-hose pressure tells me we’re in trouble.

My husband and I trade places in the small space. Irresponsible renters as we are, neither of us know where the water main is, so my husband runs downstairs for a tool with which to turn the water shut-off valve.

I try to think. How to minimize the damage? I reach for the valve but the metallic grooves just grind against my hand when I try to turn it. Not that I expected to get it to move after my husband failed. But whenever I’m getting spanked by water, I like to pretend I have at least a sliver of control.

My heart pounds as worst-case scenarios rush into my mind faster than the water onto my pajamas. What if we can’t turn it off? Who do we even call in the middle of the night—and will they answer? Would 9-1-1 consider this as big of an emergency as we do?

Please, help us, I pray.

I register the trash bin. It’s fairly small and the water pressure is so high that much of the water sprays right back out. But at least it’s something. I empty bin after bin into the shower.

My husband finally arrives, and we do the switcheroo dance again. He dives down to the floor and attacks the valve with what looks like wire cutters. He is as tool illiterate as I am, but to his credit, time isn’t exactly on our side. Plus, we have no idea where we keep the rest of the few tools we actually own.

After several long seconds of slippery wrangling, everything goes quiet.

Well, the baby is probably turning blue from all that screaming. But no more toilet water fountain.

Hallelujah.

My heart still hammering, I rush to comfort our poor baby while my husband gathers towels for water cleanup.

It’s tempting to ignore the aftermath and just go to sleep. But as parents of two small children, we know that if given the chance, messes unattended to will grow limbs, become self-aware, and kick you out of the house.

The damage to the carpet isn’t as bad as we thought, but even the bathroom ceiling is wet from the crazy spray.

When I go downstairs to scavenge for more towels, I realize it’s raining.

In the kitchen.

The large light fixture, positioned right underneath the flooded bathroom, can’t contain all the water seeping through the ceiling.

And cleaning up that mess is all fun and games. If your definition of fun and games is wet and miserable drudgery. Emptying the water-heavy light fixture is tricky business, and we get showered several times in the process.

All in all, the whole shebang has provided us with a perfect opportunity for whining and complaining. For asking why me and why now, after a torturous transatlantic flight?

So we do a little bit of that, because we’re human.

But both my husband and I know that along with all that water raining down onto our already-grimy kitchen floor, are showers of abundant blessings. Of tender mercies of the Lord.

Because our master bathroom is located above the kitchen, not the living room with semi-expensive electronics, fabric furniture, and even more carpet.

Because our oldest son slept until the rain showers in the kitchen stopped—dealing with one upset child was plenty.

Because the water supply connector could have snapped the next day instead, when my husband was at work.

Because we were home, able to deal with the disaster right away. Had the same thing happened during our four-week vacation, the entire house might have collapsed before anybody realized something was amiss.

Around 4 a.m., two and a half hours post-flush, the four of us fall back into bed. We’ve exhausted our entire supply of towels cleaning the bathroom, the kitchen, and ourselves.

I hope the kids don’t expect any more 3:30 a.m. baths.

My pillow feels just right under my head. I thank God for His mercies.

And make a mental note to ask the landlord where in the world we can find that water main.

How has it (figuratively) rained in your kitchen? Would love to hear your stories!

18 thoughts on “When It’s Raining In Your Kitchen

  1. I absolutely feel for you guys. We had a similar experience in June this year. Only my husband was working nights and had just left, so when the toilet started flooding, it was up to me to manage while my two teenage kids stood by freaked out about toilet water touching anything. Thankfully I *did* remember where the water main was, managed to turn it off, and then since the shut off valve wouldn’t shut off, we had no water for a day til I got on YouTube and figured out how to replace it myself. My son had no issues when I told him to go pee in the backyard, my daughter was decidedly less excited about the prospect. The restoration company came to help dry things out. Flooring had to be torn up down to the sub floor. They told me that first day that mine was a “small job. It’d be done within two weeks.” I was delighted by that thought, and grateful that we had another bathroom downstairs to use.

    Two weeks was almost four months ago, and naturally the job still isn’t finished. But the good news is my kids, who wouldn’t use the downstairs bathroom because it was “creepy” have had to learn to get over their aversion to it. Four months of exposure will do that. And then 2 weeks ago they put some flooring in so I was able to get the toilet hooked up and make it usable. I don’t love home disasters, (tho’ truth is, if this had happened in the “creepy bathroom” instead of the one I’d already updated, I’d have actually been delighted!) but they do have a way of highlighting how blessed we are. ♥

  2. Wow such a crazy experience I know how that jet lag feels and I can’t even imagine having to deal with something like that!!
    After reading this I immediately turned to my husband and said before you leave on next trip you have to show me where the main water shut off is!

  3. A word to the wise: if you’re having plumbing work done, have the plumber swap out the old-style valves for ball valves. Don’t ask questions; just take my word for it. : )

  4. Last year, about six weeks after we bought a new house, Hurricane Isaac hit our town. It wasn’t a very big hurricane, but it was moving slowly enough that it was basically like getting hit with 3 hurricanes, one right after the other. We lost a lot of shingles the first night, and when I went to get my daughter up from her nap I noticed that there were a couple of leaks in the ceiling of her and her sister’s room. I called my husband and we started clearing furniture out from under the leaks. Within 15 minutes of my husband taking the crib in the guest bedroom across the hall—as he was putting it back together—the ceiling caved in in the girls’ room. We’d had just enough noticed to get most things out of the room. Posted a picture on Facebook to grump about it, and our home teachers came over almost immediately, even with the dredges of the hurricane still going on outside, and helped us start mopping up.

    We were also one of the few people in town who never lost electricity. I am so glad I didn’t let my husband talk me into evacuating.

  5. Blue – Oh my goodness! Overflowing toilets are the worst – at least ours was clean water! I hope you get everything fixed soon. I had to chuckle at some of what you wrote, though…there are definitely amusing elements in these kinds of experiences, even if they are annoying and frustrating! I’m glad you’re seeing the blessings, too!

    Josse – Have him show you right away! You never know what can happen when he’s at work!

    RMM – Thanks for the tip! It would be so nice to just know about these things without actually having to learn them! (because, really, aren’t there more scintillating branches of knowledge than plumbing?)

  6. Wow, Payton, that’s crazy! Hurricane and caved-in ceiling…makes our experience look like a walk in the park, haha! I love how your home teachers came by immediately. It made me think of the quote by Mr. Rogers:

    “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

  7. This is one of those tiny trials that will make you giggle when you reminisce about it years from now ? But in the moment, they are such a pain.
    My two-year-old caused every recessed light in our kitchen to “rain” when he went through a fascination with toilets…. specifically with making things like toys and clothing go “Bye bye” down them.
    As I cleaned up, I was really worried that somehow we’d all be electrocuted by the water/light fixture interaction! But we all survived and the lights dried out and worked fine. Now it’s just a fun memory that we tease him with occasionally.

  8. A few months ago, I had all 4 of my kids at Babies r Us, I just had to make a quick stop for diapers, them drive about an hour home, where I was supposed to teach a trial lesson to a brand new violin student.

    I left my kids in the van with the AC blasting (my oldest is 12 before you think I’m a really terrible parent) and was in the store less than 5 min. When I came out, the van had decided to not so miraculously shut itself off. This particular van really needs to be pushed off a cliff, but it’s paid for, so we drive it and pray.

    Well, it was easily 100 degrees, I couldn’t get the van to start and all 4 of my kids are flipping out. I took them all inside the blessedly air conditioned store and called my mom. We had met up with her less than 5 min before, so she still at the shopping center. I was cursing the stupid van and trying to figure out how we were going to pay the horrible repair bills while my mom was chasing my kids up and down the aisles of the store.

    My husband left work and came down the mountain to rescue me, and I busied myself trying to cancel my preview lesson without looking like a flake. My poor husband was headed to the temple that night and was trying to diagnose the problem in his long sleeved white shirt. After a few tries, he received a flash of inspiration, the van started, my student was perfectly understanding and we arrived home only a little worse for the wear.

    That night, after I’d had a chance to breathe and evaluate, I realized we really were blessed. I didn’t break down on the side of the freeway, we had an air conditioned store. My mom was there, which never happens. My husband was ok to drop everything and come rescue me. He received direct inspiration about what to do, and there was no repair bill. Inconvenient? Sure. But The Lord was definitely watching out for us.

  9. WO girl! That is awful! Way beyond awful! But you are so right about those little blessings. Imagine how much worse it would have been to come home to ruined belongings or to have to deal with that while Jonas was at work. I’m impressed and touched that you could see those amidst all of that.

  10. Kate – what is it with kids and toilets!? We have to be careful around here, because my 14mo takes every chance to splash around! Electrocution would have been very bad…I’m glad it worked out all right in the end!

    Stacy – That is such a perfect example of a situation that was incredibly frustrating but that could have turned out so much worse. I’m certain Heavenly Father was looking out for you that day, and feeling your pain for what you did have to go through! Also, not sure how people in the past survived without AC in such heat (and some still do!)

    Erica – I’m going to milk this experience as much as I can to make it worth it! Heavenly Father taught me some more things I didn’t mention…who knows, maybe those will show up on my blog or in a talk sometime? Haha.

    Also, sorry for misspelling your name, Peyton!

  11. This story took me places. The picture led me to expect an account of a slightly unusual baptism. I wasn’t far off. It was great, from the comfort of a good night’s sleep and the safety of my dry Arizona bed, to imagine your horrible bad luck with the water-spewing toilet. I was amused by your nocturnal struggles. Then, at the end, your positive outlook on what was virtually a disaster inspired me to cope better with life’s cruelty. Great story; thanks for sharing.

  12. Daniel – Thanks for reading and commenting, and I’m glad you got something out of our experience! It kind of was like a baptism, wasn’t it? I’m just glad it wasn’t a baptism of fire!! =)

  13. This summer we vacationed in Southern Utah with friends the week before our son was to return from his mission to Chile. A couple of months before our vacation we had decided that my girlfriend and 2 of our kids would drive back to Oregon with us so that her daughter could see my son (they’ve been friends since they were little) before she left on her mission. As I contemplated the 12 hr drive back to Oregon I thought it was going to be such an easy drive with myself, my 18 year old son, my girlfriend, and her pre-missionary daughter all able to drive.

    It didn’t work out that way. My 18 year old had a bike accident the last day of our vacation and had a serious concussion–no driving for him. As we drove through Odgen my stomach started hurting and I started throwing up. I turned the keys over to my friend and threw up all the way to Boise, where the urgent care diagnosed me with norovirus. I remember thinking as I drove past Brigham City that if my friend hadn’t been with us we would have had to stop at my parent’s house because I was that sick. I wouldn’t have had the strength to drive home on my own for at least a week–I was so drained by the time I was done throwing up.

    Then I realized that without my friend and her daughter deciding to come with us, we never would have made it back to Oregon in time to welcome our son home from Chile. When he hugged me in the airport and said how good it was to see me, all I could think was “you have no idea how close you came to not seeing me.” I was grateful to the Lord for having provided a way home. And to my friend and her daughter for doing all of the driving…

  14. Cindy – Oh my goodness! I can’t believe you made it home in one piece. I’m so glad you got to hug your son at the airport. How great that you noticed the Lord working to get you home as you suffered through that ordeal!

  15. Sorry this is going to be such a long comment, but I really wanted to respond to this great post.

    First, I was so thrilled to read yet another of your pieces.I lived in Lund for several years and love and admire your mother and your sister, Katarina. I don’t think we ever met during the time I lived in Sweden. Anyhow, your family is terrific and I’m so impressed with the way you share your faith and testimony.

    I loved this story, not because of the trouble that you went through, but because you were able to see how you were helped during all of it. I also really related to those bits about jet lag. It’s a killer, isn’t it?

    My own “raining in the kitchen” story is perhaps a little darker, but still is a reminder to me of how much the Lord does help us during our trials, without removing the actual trial.

    A couple of years ago, I was 13 weeks pregnant and my husband was in Saudi Arabia on a business trip. All was going well. I had an ultrasound scheduled with a specialist because of some health issues I have. Rather miraculously, my ultrasound date was changed and I shifted my schedule to get to the earlier appointment. Unfortunately, at the ultrasound, we were unable to find a heartbeat and realized that our baby had died.

    It was pretty awful. But I count that ultrasound as a profound blessing. If I had not had it that day, I would never have been able to contact my husband for him to get home, which he did, only hours before my body naturally miscarried. Because of that ultrasound my husband was able to get home to me which prevented a lot of problems for the whole family.I will never ever forget how the Lord watched over me and my family during that time.

    Anyhow, thank you for the reminder that in the midst of our trials, the Lord is helping us, but we must look for His hand.

  16. Tiffanie – thank you so much for sharing your story. So heartbreaking, but also beautiful and profound. Thank you for really bringing home the point that we have to look for God’s hand with faith, even as we struggle. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    (And I do remember meeting you, by the way! You are so sweet!)

  17. Tiffan*y* – I just sensed I had misspelled your name (my VT is with an -ie, so I’ve brainwashed myself to write it that way) Sorry, and thanks again for sharing your experience!!

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