About a year ago, as I aimlessly and uncharacteristically solitarily wandered the wide aisles of our local Home Depot, I spied a rug I felt needed to come home with me. Without any thought of either its unforgiving fabric or the fact that I was taking it home to then-eight-, seven-, and three-year-old boys not to mention two rather unpredictable and less-than-reliable beagle mixes and a kitten, I heaved the rolled-up woolen rug into my shopping cart and made my way to the register.
As I rounded a corner, my vision impeded by this large object of my affection, I nearly collided with my children’s pediatrician. A woman who minces not a single word, she couldn’t avoid seeing me and the obvious bulk of my soon-to-be purchase. She took one look at it, smiled, shook her head, and said jokingly, “You know you can’t have nice things.”
The physician to my three sons, not to mention a mother of four herself, she of course understood what I, too, quickly learned moments into parenthood—pretty things were no longer for me. Fabrics that could not be stuffed into my merciful washing machine had to be packed away or given away—certainly not deliberately purchased and conspicuously displayed.
But purchase this nice thing I did; and it turned out to be fine. And as I sit here tonight, basking in the organization our small house has recently undergone, I am struck by how much things have once again changed: a kitchen island with open shelving houses breakables on which my youngest, just last year, would have wreaked his customary and considerable toddler havoc; a beloved statue that was until recently stuck, for its own safety, on a high shelf would be within my sons’ reach—if they even knew or cared about anything other than Minecraft and actually knew it existed.
After nearly ten years of prioritizing my children’s safety and comfort—not to mention overall hygiene–in our home, I am starting to reclaim space. Naturally, my sons still have space, but no longer do they and the clutter of their childhoods have or require all of it.
Someone recently remarked, “Your house is starting to look like it did before you had kids.” And it does. In fact, if a crawling baby or toddler came to visit, there is more than enough going on to get him or her into some serious trouble.
And I’m left wondering how all this happened . . . how ten years ago I envisioned blocks and Lego on the floors, safety latches on my cabinets and how now it’s equally dreamy not to be tripping over toys, to be able to put things simply where I want them.
Our house may now be reminiscent of its time ten years prior, but it’s clearly not the same—nicks on the walls remind me of my sons’ play, bookcases overflow with early readers and chapter books, and portraits of our three exuberant children, children about whom I only once dreamed, now grace the walls.
Ten years ago this was my house. Until recently it was theirs.
And now it is ours.