Your parents would say this to you as a child and you probably rolled your eyes in disbelief. “This is why we can’t have nice things” was the headline of your childhood and you were the poster child. Well wouldn’t you know it, karma really is a bitch. It turns out they were very accurate in this generalized assumption. You (the child) were without a doubt, one hundred percent exclusively, the sole reasoning behind every crappy thing your parents owned. So go ahead, pat yourself on the back.
As a parent, I now understand. These crappy things we own did not always appear to belong in a frat house. No sir, these were once items of great value. Well respected pieces of furniture that were symbolic of a time when you had money to burn and could keep a clean house for weeks. A time when glass frames and expensive trinkets had a purpose in your life.
Bringing a child into the world is comparable to welcoming a tornado into your home. Like a bull in a china shop, even one child is capable of unthinkable debris…and we voluntarily welcome this.
Baby Macgyver has a real knack for getting into things. If you are not careful, they will stain, color, jump on, scratch, rip and lose the pieces to anything of value you own. Your belongings will be sticky and smell like cheese because everything goes better with a sprinkle of milk, including your carpets and sofa.
They will bait your living room with hidden food so an army of ants will find it before you do. If you even so much as blink, you will hear a toilet flush and realize it was the sound of your dignity going down with it.
I remember peeling my mother’s wallpaper and tracing her window frames with a sharpie. Baby cuteness is a survival technique, and it’s the only reason our parents let us make it to adulthood.
There’s a lesson to be learned in all this, and my daughter has helped me grow in ways I didn’t realize I needed growth. I had an abundance of nice things before her. I would seek to buy status items like designer bags & shoes. I wanted to maintain a living room that looked like it belonged in a Pottery Barn catalogue, and even the amount of detail that went into the decor of her very own bedroom was picture perfect and I believed it would stay that way.
It’s not that I’ve lost my flair for nice things (I still make my fair share of purchases) but I no longer have that desire to have the best of everything. Our blinds are only broken because my daughter wants see the world. She colors on her table instead of the paper because she thinks it looks beautiful (and so do I). She’s curious and I want her to explore and be comfortable in our home. I can live with the fingerprints and the toys scattered across a floor that is no longer visible. I find myself enjoying a home that looks lived in and seeing my daughter in the midst of her toys makes me happy.
My mother was right, and I will hold off on buying any nice material things until my child is grown enough to understand that the monetary value of an item sometimes outweighs the impulsive need to put graffiti on it. My daughter has brought me back down to earth and I find myself to be less materialistic. I thank her for that.
Some of her damage will be worse than others but we learn from it together. She says she’s sorry, I hide the sharpies and life does go on, even without the very nicest of “things“. Because after all, it is not the material “things” that matter in life. You can’t take those with you when you go. Enjoy your babies, let them explore and grow…and don’t cry over spilled milk because they truly are the very best thing that you will ever have in your life.
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