We all started from the same place. We needed that little bundle of joy to make our family feel whole. All we could think about was stylish nursery decor, adorable baby clothes, tiny newborn diapers and that pink lotions that is, in fact, the epitome of baby smell. This baby will teach us what unconditional love is all about. She will make us better people. All we need is this precious child and our life will be perfect. Perfect indeed, until she ruins everything that you own.
I never realized, as I had one baby, then two, then three, then four that everything I owned was slowly deteriorating around me. Once upon a time I had trendy furniture, the latest in electronic devices and gadgets that made all of my single friends envious. Then you have your kids and your focus and all of your money goes to them. You want them to have the best of everything: the cutest clothes, popular toys, the best preschool education and involvement in every toddler extracurricular activity that you can afford. You are proud of the things that you are able to provide for your child. We all want better for our kids than we had. Then one day, while sitting there with your sense of accomplishment and ridiculous grin, you begin to look around your house. What has happened here? What is this war zone that I call home?
You begin with the couch that you are sitting on. Your once trendy leather sofa is now smeared with dried boogers and stuffed with Goldfish. Your coffee table has bite marks which you once thought was adorable but in the grand scheme of things, not so endearing. Your TV is not big screen, nor HD nor LCD or any of those other fancy television terms. It's macaroni-box size remote alone lets everyone know that you are no longer up on the latest trends. If you dare look at you floors you will see your once shiny hardwood is now chipped and dull. Heaven forbid if you have carpet because it has seen things that you cannot speak of because you know Resolve can only do so much. Your walls are littered with crayon art work that the Magic Eraser couldn't take off and those once white baseboards are now lined with solid black scuff lines and you don't even know for sure how that happened.
Cold chills run down your spine as it occurs to you: This is very reminiscent of the house you grew up in! It wasn't that your dad was lazy or that your mom was complacent. It was YOUR FAULT!
You dart outside to take a look at the family car. It still has cool points, right? It was once a shiny, brand new SUV... FOUR YEARS AGO! You look at the soccer field dust all over the once gorgeous black paint, because who has time to wash their car (and you will be back at the soccer field in a couple of days anyway). The once gray carpet now seems to be multicolored from dirty cleats and spilled juice boxes. The windows are smeared with hand prints and exactly why does every kid insist on licking glass? The leather seats are smeared with, that's right, more boogers.
It is more than you can take. Your life is no longer your own. You aren't THAT mom! You have a strict no french fries in the car rule. When did you let your guard down and move into survival mode? That's how we make it, you know. We are just trying to keep our heads above water.
You think about your parents and your childhood. The orange shag carpet? They didn't want that! It was all they could afford after you and the only one that would hide your filthy messes. The avocado green appliances? The last time they could afford to upgrade you were 4-years-old and sure maybe 15 years later they weren't so cute but they still worked. That couch with the worn-thin cushions and terrible flowered pattern? It wasn't that your mother didn't long for a new one. She just didn't see the point because you were just going to ruin it anyway. And that hideous wood paneled station wagon? It all makes perfect sense.
When I look back now, I remember leaving home. My mother was so emotional. She was excited for me to get out there and experience the world, but life without her baby was going to be a difficult adjustment. As I stood there with my last packed box, she hugged me tightly. I saw the tears in her eyes. She stood there and watched me walk to my car. She waved goodbye and slowly closed the door. I pictured her alone in that big house, moping around. BUT now I know the truth. She closed that door -- and laughed and laughed and laughed and proceeded to do back hand springs across the family room. You see her house was now her own again. I mean think about it, every friend that I had growing up, once they moved out, their mother turned their bedroom into an office, or a sewing room, or a craft room. All of those mothers got all new furniture and large televisions and swimming pools. Why? Because they could. They did their time. They devoted years to you and now it was their turn. Time to do what THEY want. Time to buy what THEY like. Time to find themselves again.
With this realization I actually felt at peace. My nasty carpet, outdated bathrooms and less than glamorous mom-wardrobe is okay. It is what we moms do. We sacrifice because having kids is more rewarding than white plush carpet, marble bathrooms or master closets compete with furniture and pink chandeliers. We are happy just being boring, embarrassing, dependable mom. Then as the time nears for you to fly the nest, we will think about every single thing that we have lived without over the last 18 years and start making our shopping list. Of course, we only do this to help deal with the pain of losing you ;)
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