I have kids and they knock over everything, including my beer. There seems to be some direct proportional relationship to the amount I spend on a beer and how fast it ends up in my shoe. Beer at the ball park, two sips and yup, I’ve got soggy socks. Beer in a restaurant, and 32 seconds after it gets to the table it’s in my underpants. Who knew beer was this sticky?
Before I had children, I actually lived this life where things didn’t get knocked over. We owned a 1906 foursquare with Victorian influences, and a front room that looked like a jewel box. I even painted it like a jewel box, with purple walls and a golden glazed ceiling that complemented the art glass windows. I decorated the space with a silver tea service, antique furniture and occasional tables (which are small tables on spindly legs that you put beside your couch to set your beer on).
The first time my friend Ken walked into my house, he said, “That’s a waste of space. You just had a kid. You got kids, you aren’t going to have anything nice.”
Who is this Ken, and what does he know?
Turns out Ken knows everything. If you have children, you aren’t going to have anything nice.
My children can trash a minivan in less than two minutes. We set the table with plastic Notre Dame tumblers, because even though I picked them up off the floor of the stadium stands, I still have six of them. My dining room chairs are broken, the backyard grass is worn to dirt in front of soccer goals, the sheets on my bed are decorated in purple marker, my desk has a divot in it, my figurine of an angel holding a small child, the one I keep to remind me that I am raising God’s children, is held together with gorilla glue, and a playroom I waste four hours organizing so that every toy goes in the appropriately labeled bin? Don’t even go there I can’t discuss it without getting upset.
I finally just got rid of the labels when I realized my fourth-grader had her own creative interpretation of “Barbie Bin,” and nobody really cared if the Lego pieces were color-sorted except me.
The good news is that at some point I surrendered. I surrendered to the mess and the chaos, and my house has gotten to a point where even my husband now asks if maybe we could get a new couch in the front room because our couch has no cushions on it. But admittedly it was the dog who ate the couch, not the kids.
I don’t mind the couch. I think it’s more fun having a house that is lived in and loved, one that is decorated with purple markers and errant unsorted Lego pieces, instead of a house that has a front room with small tables on spindly legs. A room nobody uses.
Still, occasionally, it would be nice, if I could sit down with my beer and not have it end up in my underpants.
Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.