Does having kids mean you can’t have nice things?

by Karen on February 18, 2013

in Momoirs of a Rookie Mom

Our good friend, Karen, always has the best taste in food, furnishings, and fun trips. We have been watching her rookie year of motherhood with great curiosity and interest. She agreed to share with us a few stories of how things are changing at their house in this guest post. Thanks, Karen (and ps your place still looks amazing)!

chair

Having had my first kid at age 35, my husband and I had already acquired some nice furniture and art. This is the story of what happens to said belongings after a baby enters the picture.

When we moved in together, we were both 31, highly aesthetically inclined, enjoyed flea and antique market bargains, and had the fortune of inheriting a couple special pieces, so our combined household furnishings were actually pretty sweet. My husband bought this beautifully upholstered ice blue tweed number at a fancy mid-century modern store before we were dating. Seeing it in his bachelor pad made a positive first impression, as it showed me that the guy had good taste and class. A few years ago, I had new cushions made so they would be more comfortable. When someone spilled red wine on the chair, we called for a home visit from the upholstery cleaner to get the stain out immediately. You see where this is going?

The chair is in my living room. We hang out in this chair a lot! We love it. It’s big enough for both of us and a comfy size and shape for nursing. Every month, I have my son pose in the chair to see how big he’s getting. Cute, right?

laz-in-chair

Yesterday we were playing one of his favorite games: he stands up on this chair and cruises around it, knowing that if (make that, when) he falls, it will be into my lap. Out of nowhere, he threw up all over the chair. I had a minor panic — this is our good chair! And then I started to look more closely at it. After nine months of baby-love, this chair was not quite as pristine as I had imagined. In fact, in some areas it appears to be permanently stained and saturated with (I hope) spit-up, drool, and breast milk.

What happened to our chair? I mean, sure, I have busted out the Oxi-Clean from time to time, but I’m not sure the chair will ever be the same.

In his earlier, blob-like stage, it was pretty easy to control both toy creep and furniture ruination, so our living conditions remained basically the same. But as the little guy gets older and more active, he requires more entertainment and becomes more and more unintentionally destructive with every passing day. As for the toys, my husband was elated when our son outgrew his baby gym, but still cringes every time he walks into the living room and sees his monstrous walker (a recent gift from Grandma) ramming repeatedly into the ottoman of his beloved Eames chair. But he knows his kid is never happier (and he will outgrow it pretty soon), so he can live with it.

laz-livingroom

But having one little baby and wanting more children, we are probably in for about 10 years of general furniture and home destruction on some level, and that deserves some attention. We need a strategy.

If only there were some way to mind-meld with my child so he would destroy the 12-year-old Ikea dresser with non-functioning drawers and lots of strategically-placed duck tape. But somehow I have a feeling he will be more interested in scratching his initials into my grandmother’s heirloom redwood slab coffee table. If only I could somehow guide him to wipe his muddy hands on the crappy rug I’ve owned since college instead of taking a blunt object to the delicate legs of the silver-plated chest that took a year to arrive from Cape Town on a container ship. But I know this is not the case.

So I think we will have to take a wait-and-see approach and see what kind of kid he is and what we really care about. I’m hoping we can use some gating plus vigilance plus discipline to protect the things we love most, but I have no doubt in my mind that someday I will discover something important to me has been ruined. I vacillate between thinking “it’s just stuff, who cares?” and “having kids doesn’t mean you can’t have nice things!” I wouldn’t be surprised if I continue to go back and forth between those two feelings.

laz-in-charge

For example, let’s talk about the dining room table – a lovely hunk of maple that used to be shiny and pretty and perfect – that we now strap the high chair to. It’s getting messed up in spots so I’ve started rotating the high chair so it gets sort of equally messed up in all places. And to be honest, I don’t even care. I guess in 20 years I can get out the belt sander and refinish it. But more likely than that, I will just decide to live with a highly imperfect dining room table and cover it up with a tablecloth when company comes over.

laz-diningroom

And as for the beloved blue chair? Well luckily, it came in a pair – and for the time being, the second one is still in good shape. So after my kids destroy this one, we’ll still have one to pass down for the grandkids to mess up.

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Among other things, I am a toddler mom, a former pastry chef, a San Francisco native, an extensive world traveler, an often overwhelmed remodeler, and an aspiring photographer. I have had a LOT of different jobs for a person in their 30s. I blog at OffTheMeathook.com (lifestyles of the carnivorous and fabulous).

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