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When I moved out on my own for the first time, I had little more than a couple boxes of clothes and a 20 pack of Ramen Noodles. Matching furniture wasn’t high on my priority list. I collected affordable pieces here and there and told anyone who asked that my style was “eclectic.” My sofa and loveseat were straight out of the 1980s, and I ate most meals picnic-style, because I didn’t have a dining table. You don’t really need a dining table to eat Ramen noodles and late-night Taco Bell. I lived the bachelorette life, and I lived it well.
As the years passed I found myself drawn to to the idea of matching furniture. There was something about the cohesiveness of coordinating home decor that said, “I’m an adult, and I totally have my sh*t together.” So, around the time I got married, I purchased my first matching, new from the store, living room set. It was exactly what I wanted and I couldn’t wait to fill my home with HGTV-inspired decor. But style comes at a price, and I had HGTV taste on a garage sale budget, so my fancy living room set was accessorized with my usual “eclectic” style.
My husband and I added a couple of kids to the mix, and matching furniture took a backseat to diapers, doctor’s visits, and all the other expensive shit kids need. Thanks to Joanna Gaines, I’d fallen madly in love with a farmhouse dining table, and since kids can’t subsist solely on ramen noodles and Taco Bell, I justified my need for this stylish piece. Though my living room set had suffered its fair share of milk spills, Goldfish crumbs, and a disastrous run-in with the vomit monster, I convinced myself my table wouldn’t suffer the same fate.
Wrong. So, so wrong.
The day my table died, I was nursing my newborn on my milk-stained loveseat. My daughter, just two at the time, was seated at the dining room table looking at books. I remember marveling at her maturity as a new big sister. I’d been warned she may act out around the new baby, but there she sat, quietly looking at books while her brother had my full attention. Or so I thought. I discovered later, the book propped-up in front of her was merely to obstruct my view as she gnawed my beloved farmhouse table. That’s right, I said gnawed. She chewed on the edge of my table like a tiny, angry beaver-baby. Hundreds of tiny teeth marks marred the dark stain, exposing the original color of the wood. It was then, with post-delivery hormones coursing through my body and tears on my cheeks that I accepted the truth — you can have nice things, or you can have children, but you can’t have both.
That was four year ago.
I still own the same stained living room set, because I still have kids. The teeth marks on my table now share space with three fork grooves from the great green bean battle of 2015. Duct tape holds together more than one picture frame on my shelf, and my baseboards are scuffed from ride on toys, and baby walkers. I still dream about matching furniture and the clean lines (and floors) I see in all my favorite HGTV shows, but that is entirely unrealistic at this point.
I know some people will balk at this, and admonish me for raising kids who don’t respect my belongings, but that’s simply not the case. My kids are still very young, and they are learning. Kids need to be kids, and most kids are messy. They do their best to keep the juice in their cups, but spills happen. They know better than to throw balls in the house, but sh*t happens when you’re being silly and having fun. One day my kids will be grown and there will be plenty of time for fancy sofas and light-colored rugs, but that day is not today, so my love for all things HGTV will have to wait.