How to Be Alright When the Ceiling Caves In

by Belinda Munoz on October 25, 2010


If you’ve been here before, you’ll likely know that I have a sacred house-cleaning rule. If you’re new here, let me tell you: I don’t clean for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Often, I don’t spend longer than 10 – 15 minutes.

I’ll spare you the mechanics of this quirky rule. I will, however, tell you that last night, I had to violate said rule. For a very good reason. Part of the ceiling in my son’s bedroom caved in.

Luckily (yes, I believe in luck for so many reasons), we were away for the weekend. Thankfully (no, I’m not always thankful for as much as I should be), son did not have to be traumatized by the startling noise I imagine this disaster must’ve made. It could’ve been so much worse.

Part of me would like to apologize that this isn’t more of a metaphorical post. However, most of me thinks that when the literal parts of our home (ceiling, walls, floorboards, windows, doors, etc.) break, the resonance they bring us can be just as powerful as any metaphor.

I wasn’t always feeling so lucky and thankful, mind you. My first reaction was that of panic followed by doubt. I doubted the livability of my home, the integrity of its infrastructure and how effectively I could parent with a gaping hole in the supposed safe space for my child. But this is typical, isn’t it? When our confidence is shaken, we tend to question even things that have never before failed us; things that are historically dependable and solid.

Once I got through the wave of panic, I remembered what I was thinking at a Mother Jones dinner the other night. That any problem I’ve ever had pales by multiple shades in comparison to those of a refugee of any nation or any Burmese activist.

So, about that ceiling. Many of us are familiar with talk of metaphorically shattering the glass ceiling into a million pieces. I am proud to wholeheartedly support this sentiment.

And yet, I’m humbled when U.N. statistics point out that there are at least 100 people to each of the one million pieces of broken glass who have no actual or makeshift ceiling — none — above their heads.


Have you had anything break down in your home lately?

Have you had any humbling or horizon-expanding revelations lately?

Do you believe in luck?


Image by Svadilfari

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October 25, 2010 at 10:25 am

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 TheKitchenWitch October 25, 2010 at 5:56 am

Ack! The ceiling broke? That’s kind of a biggie. We were sans microwave for a few days and I was bitter–guess I need some perspective, eh?


2 ayala October 25, 2010 at 6:18 am

Sorry about your ceiling. Thankfully you were away . This brought memories of Hurricane Wilma. The ceiling fall down on my mom while she was in bed, and my father had to lift it on his own. They were traumatized and it took some time before they recovered. Also, a tree fall down on our roof while we were sitting in Daniel’s room. Thankfully it didn’t puncture through. Good Luck with the repair and I hope you feel better soon!


3 Aging Mommy October 25, 2010 at 7:03 am

That is definitely unsettling, having your ceiling fall in. I find as I grow older that I do believe many things happen for a reason, are meant to be. But falling ceilings, not one of them :-)


4 The Exception October 25, 2010 at 7:21 am

That is scary. I am glad that he wasn’t in the room; and like you, I would have been questioning the security of the infrastructure of the house.
Last February, we lost power for 60+ hours due to the snow. Thankfully nothing broke (though we came close to having a pipe freeze) and the roof stayed in tact… but being without was an enlightening experience. People, around the world, live without warm water and electricity. Strange as it might sound, I think it was a rewarding experience.


5 Indigo October 25, 2010 at 8:00 am

Two years ago , we hired some contractors to fix multiple issues in our home. The contractors worked for a week and then told us they were taking a week off for vacation. (Strangest business sense yet) In any case in that week, my front steps caved in, the bathtub faucet fell off, and the ceiling leaked water for a week into my living room.

I remember feeling so vulnerable the week before having strangers raid my house and tromp through it – even if they were paid strangers. Then needing them to hurry back and fix all these things that had decided to break at the same time.

Two years later the same ceiling leaks on occasion (Spring is bringing roofers) and it’s a slow pull on my vulnerablitity. You’re so right though, such a small insignificant thing in comparision to so many the world over. Thanks for that reminder. (Hugs)Indigo


6 Cathy @ All I Want To Say October 25, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Like everything in life, you just have to pick up the pieces and move on. Tough at times, lots of emotional baggage, but deep breaths, and slow, steady forward motion.

Glad, though, that everything is okay! At least it was better than the possibilities.


7 Patty - Why Not Start Now? October 25, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Hi Belinda – So glad to hear the crisis is over. But you know, I think you have wrangled a good metaphor for us here: that even when the ceiling falls in (the actual or metaphorical structure over our heads), we’re not only resilient enough to bounce back but also able to find our way back to gratitude for simply having a ceiling. I’m going to have to ponder that one for a bit, in fact. And yes, we’ve had our share of home malfunctions, most recently an unnerving electrical problem. I’ve gotten jaded over the years of home ownership, though. What’s that they say: “Things fall apart.” Houses too!


8 Jenny Ann Fraser October 26, 2010 at 8:28 am

I’m so glad that you’re all safe and sound!
So sorry to hear about your ceiling. It sounds expensive as well as stressful, but I think you are brilliant in the way that you are handling it.
Best wishes to you and yours!


9 Sara Healy October 26, 2010 at 9:01 am

Belinda — It’s always scary when something like this happens in your house, especially since it happened in your son’s room. I’m glad you were away and that he’s safe.

I’ve been lucky about things falling on my home, especially since it’s gone through several hurricanes. Your story, however, reminded me of the big oak tree that was outside my daughter’s rooms. Whenever we had a big storm, like a hurricane or a storm with lots of heavy winds and lightning, I would make them come and sleep in our bedroom, which was on the other side of the house. They were not happy with me, but I could rest:~) In the over thirty years we’ve lived in house, the oak tree never did fall from a storm. It eventually had to be taken down due to illness..

I am glad you and family are okay from this ceiling collapse!!!!


10 rob white October 26, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Hi Pretti,
These little disasters are blessings in disguise when viewed rightly. This summer the Boston area was without potable drinking water for a few days due to a burst mainline pipe. The entire area was asked to boil their water before drinking. It was really a great wake up call to appreciate the mere fact that we have access to clean running water. Ultimately, it was a great gift to be able to appreciate that which we take for granted on a daily basis… and just writing this is giving me a renewed appreciation for the glass of water sitting next to me!


11 rob white October 26, 2010 at 12:20 pm

oops! Belinda!… forgive me I got confused…


12 Rudri October 27, 2010 at 6:56 am

Glad everyone is ok. Having your ceiling cave in is certainly unsettling.

When I lived in Houston, Hurricane Ike rolled in and we lived without electricity for 10 days. There was devestation everywhere. That statistic you presented at the end – certainly humbling.


13 Eva @ EvaEvolving October 27, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Oh, it’s so unnerving when something major goes wrong with your home. It’s so stable, so tangible, so necessary! Last December (yes, December, 3 days before Christmas) our furnace broke down. Not only broke down, but needed to be replaced for safety reasons. And that was jarring to us – very stressful. But we made it through, and appreciated a warm house a little bit more after that!

I do believe in luck – although I try to see good luck more than bad luck. Seems like whatever you open your eyes to will find you.


14 Marci October 27, 2010 at 5:11 pm

I’m so glad you and your little guy were not in there when the ceiling came in. I think I would panic, doubt, fret too. It does remind me how much I take for granted. Having a roof over my head tonight, having healthy kids, and a pillow to lay my head on. I can usually get to a thankful place in my head, but I detour too. When you feel threatened, we all want to flee or fight back, don’t we?


15 Juliana November 1, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Ugh! What a pain. And yet, as you point out, how fortunate are we to have safe homes generally!
By the way, the stained glass in the photo is beautiful. Where is located?


16 Charlotte Rains Dixon November 1, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Yes, I believe in luck, and your story is just one example of why. It is easy to get overly worked up when something we rely on–like an appliance, or, oh say, a ceiling–breaks, but your statistics remind us of how lucky we are.


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