Lessons I learned from a bedroom full of mold!!
It was January 22, 2022- It was supposed to be a sabbath day for us. Which for our family means that we put phones and tablets away. Then we spend the day playing board games, watching movies, and just having fun. We cook a quick-style meal, or we order some food. Making memories, praising God, and just allowing the day to happen.
This day started later than usual as we all felt ill, an asthma allergy type of sickness that had been going on for quite a while. Now before you suggest, it sounds like it could have been the nasty C word. I am going to stop you and say it was not. My proof came head-on when Jon went into the third bedroom. At the time, we were using it as a playroom (another story for another day). He went there to gather the board games we were going to play for the day. After a few minutes of being in there, he started sending me pictures. This was the first one.
It just kept getting worse!
Then he started investigating more and more, pulling down the board games and the books we had on the bookshelves on the one wall. The more he moved, the more mold we discovered. I felt defeated as we emptied the room and took a reality of all the things we had lost from the mold. If we would not have had found the mold when we did, how much worse it would have been. We lost all the bookshelves in the room, which were two large wooden ones, six nine-cube shelves, and a larger eight-cube shelf. We lost books, art and school supplies, but the worst was the time we were supposed to be spending together as a family—not spending time emptying a room that was full of mold. The mold had been making us sick for a while. The mold was the final straw. We called the maintenance that was on call because, as you can see from the date, it was a Saturday, and the office is closed on weekends. That person told us to do what we had already started doing. To clean the mold. Defeated, frustrated, and sad, we had to wait to see what the office would do about it on Monday. In the meantime, we were cleaning a mess.
How much is too much?
Monday comes, and we talk with the office. All we were told was that she (the property manager) would be at our apartment at about 1 pm with the vice president of the property and the complex’s project manager. The time comes, and the three show up and come in. Of course, by this time, the mold does not look like it does in the pictures because my husband had made sure to clean it as best he could. So, they only had pictures to go off of.
Quick side note, on Saturday, after finding the mold, my feelings of defeat led me to reach out to my family and friends on Facebook. Posting the pictures and explained how I was feeling. For support, we had been through a lot over the past four months, a lot of loss of family to Covid, financial distress from lack of work, and dealing with the illness of five of our six family members that we could not figure out. Mind you, my older three have been tested and confirmed, as was I, that we are allergic to mold. The baby has not had testing yet, but from all the similar symptoms we were having, we are pretty sure he is as well.
So, when the vice president makes a comment about my posting to Facebook as an attack on them. I started to get even more frustrated than I already was. I defended myself even stating in my Facebook response that our property manager was amazing (see pic).
Both the vice president and property manager (who up until this mold incident had been exactly how I defended her to be) had made some snarky comments that they “didn’t mean anything by” about our family of six having too much stuff.
First of all, that judgment came as an attack on our choice to homeschool because the stuff they are referring to was the books, school supplies, the items needed for science and art projects, the “stuff” we used to teach our four children. The “stuff they were referring to was the toys the kids play with, the shelves and bins to contain those toys, and paperwork we used for the many aspects of our lives. Including the business, we were trying to start for my husband, the schoolwork we needed to keep for records, the medical paperwork we needed for each of our children, not to mention all the other necessary paperwork. The stuff which included clothes for each of our six family members, the snow attire as it was January, and the items and food for Luna as she also had her needs. I countered to explain to them that we use these items to homeschool. Their reply was a comment along the lines of “oh, well I never knew you needed all this stuff to homeschool, we didn’t do that with our kids.”
Just a note since we had to empty all the contents of the mold-filled room, so they would be able to work in there to “fix” the issue. All of these items were sitting in my living room, dining room, and garage as we still needed a place for everyone to sleep at the end of the day.
I try very hard to have thick skin and not let things get to me, but my emotions were running high at this point in time with all that had taken place over the past few months. So, my mama bear was starting to show. I do not appreciate being insulted for my decisions and choices for MY family. My reasoning that I do the things that I do should not have to be explained because of the insults I receive. Nor did I appreciate the fact that we were living in a toxic environment for our family.
They continued to treat me like I was a pain for putting in a complaint and like the mold was not as big of a problem as it was. They stated they were going to deal with it properly, I was told they would have Paul David Restoration come out and look at things to give a quote. This would not happen until Friday when said person would come out.
Friday comes, and the person from Paul David Restoration comes out. He was a very nice person. I explained everything, showed him all the pictures, and after an examination of the room, he made some notes. Then he told me that this was a very serious situation and to remedy they would have to cut down at least half of the drywall of all the walls in the room to search behind them, as he was pretty sure there was mold behind them. He stated that they would remove the carpeting as the mold in the room was not something that could just be steam cleaned away, especially with the medical conditions of my boys. He understood and said numerous times that this was not something to take lightly. I ended that week feeling like something was going to be done properly, and my sons’ and my health would turn around.
Well, how do you think things went? Do you believe, as I did at that moment, that something was going to be done, that the problem would be handled seriously? Well, if so, you would be wrong, just like I was. That is not how this story goes.
It was Wednesday before the bid was completed and turned in to the property manager. Of course, I was not told how much the bid was, and really, I didn’t feel it was my place, but in what happens next, I am sure it was a lot.
The property manager called to tell me that the project manager would be back to move forward with remedying the mold situation as they would not be moving forward with Paul Davis Restoration. The following Monday, he would be by to remove the carpet and figure out where the mold and condensation were coming from.
When the project manager shows up, he starts by opening the wall. After opening up the wall the project manager tells me there is no mold behind the wall but as you can see from the above picture the insulation was discolored and on the 2×4 next to it there was the start of mold. But he refused to let me get more pictures after I took this first one. It was at this point the first of many red flags started to go up. It was disheartening how much time and struggle the next few weeks would bring. Unannounced drop-ins, little to no communication as to what was going on at times, being talked to like I was unintelligible.
Quick History Lesson
To help you understand why I was getting frustrated by the way he kept talking to me like I didn’t understand what was going on, here is some history on me. I grew up with a father who owned his own home improvement business, watching him and even helping him with his projects. Listening to the conversations, the terminology, and stories of houses he would fix.
I also had 5 uncles on my maternal side that all either ran their own home improvement businesses or worked for companies that were. My “church dad” also had a home improvement business for 17 years, where he did mold remediation, among other things.
Plus, my husband started his home improvement business, as he has over 20 years of experience, he has worked in so many aspects of home improvement everything from heating and cooling, painting, carpentry, roofing, basically everything from the roof to the foundation of a house. I also worked as an office manager for my dad, for a well-known painting company, a heating & cooling company, a commercial contractor for a hospital being built, and a few other home improvement companies. As you can see, I am knowledgeable about the inner working of a house, how it works, and how to fix things if they go wrong. Of the lingo used in the industry. As a quick study if I don’t know something, I have many resources to reach out to (as I mentioned above) or there is always good ole Google or YouTube. One such resource I did even reach out to was Paul Davis Restoration, to get an understanding from them about my situation.
To put it mildly, when this project manager would act like I was some lowly housewife that doesn’t know anything, he was far from wrong.
So, after dealing with this belittling and holy than though mentality, I finally had it. Instead of going she-bat crazy, I stood up for myself and told him I didn’t appreciate his treatment and how disrespectful he was. I also reported him for the fourth time to the property manager. From that point on which was only a few days left in the project, whenever he had to come to my apartment, the property manager came with him.
Far From Well Kept
All in all, the whole situation was frustrating. Between having a mold problem that literally overtook a whole room, which meant, we didn’t have that space. All the things we did have in that room were disbursed throughout the rest of the apartment. The three-bedroom apartment with an attached garage that on the outside looks like a beautiful well-kept condo-style apartment. But the bones of said apartments are far from well kept. There are so many stories that I will tell another time. Like, for example, during the first 3 days of being there, we had a shelf in our pantry fall (with all the food on it), the laundry doors fell on top of me as I was opening them to reload, and the dishwasher stopped working. There is a list of other things. While I had to go through first-world issues… I do look at the fact that yes, we were blessed to have a home, blessed it did have some amenities that others don’t have. I look at this experience as one of God’s lessons for me.
The lessons I learned from all of this.
- God is our provider! I give praise and credit to God as he was the reason we had that home to make memories in. That he was our provider for us to be in that home, especially through the Covid shutdown.
- God makes us stronger! It was through these trials that I learned God was in the works of making me a stronger person. One that stands up for herself and that says no. I am a huge giver and have a hard time saying no a lot.
- This situation was an opportunity from God! This mold situation ended with an opportunity, one that allowed us to live in a healthier, brighter, and roomier apartment.
- Dark days really are not dark! There were some really dark days, with lots of tears but, through this incident God was my light, constantly shining bright.
- How abundantly amazing God is!! This experience has put me right where I am now, where I feel I am supposed to be. Sitting at my desk, next to a window where I listen to birds singing, the sound of a water fountain nearby, a huge willow tree right off my balcony that dances in the wind, and a realization that my purpose is for God to work through me. Allowing me to send out my experiences and lessons, to help others with them.
From this experience, my hope is that YOU will learn the same things I did. While bad things are going to happen, God is always there. Right there helping to guide and push you into being the better person, that is growing into who he hopes for you to be. The one that is able to fulfill the purpose he created you for.
We need to stop living in the myth that trials are a curse, in the myth that when things look dark, God is nowhere to be seen, and in the myth, our stories are not worth much.
And start right now! Living in the truth that trials are an opportunity, God is always there and he provides us the light in our darkness, and that our stories are our greatest offerings!!
My hope for you is that God will give you opportunities to see his blessing.
Have you experienced anything like this? Leave a comment and tell me about it. I would love to hear about you and your experiences.
I hope you are having a beautiful and blessed week.