I used to worry I’d be judged by the contents of my bookshelf. Now as a mom, I know better. Now I know I’ll be judged by the contents of our living room floor.
This state of being was rather inevitable. As a kid, my bedroom floor was littered with books, papers, toys and more books. These days, we have an 18-month-old whose main goal in life is to pull anything on a shelf off of it.
But like all messes, our disorganized living room tell a story about who we are. A story that’s about a lot more than our messiness. In the spirit of cultural anthropology, here’s what we see:
- A pink hairbrush. My younger son must have “borrowed” my hairbrush to brush his silky blond baby hair. As I get ready in the morning, he loves standing on the step stool in the bathroom and imitating me. He also steals my makeup brush to swipe it across his soft little cheeks.
- A donkey from a Little Tykes farm set. Although it now lives in his room, we originally bought the farm set for the baby shower welcoming my older son into the world. As I sat in a black-and-white dress pulling wrapping paper off of endless onesies, plastic farm animals frolicked on the top of an ice cream cake. Not a single one of those onesies fits either of my kids anymore. Our wise-cracking, intense, observant older son was a complete unknown, only viewed through the blurry photos of the ultrasound. How was that only four years ago?
- A starfish mold from a sand toy set. My mother-in-law bought the set for our trip to Cape Cod last year. Whether or not that piece made it into the suitcase, I do remember being on the sandy beach with the kids. I remember the time spent nursing my younger son under the multi-colored sunshade, squishing sand between my toes. I recall the moments creating castles with my father-in-law and older son by the waterline. The castle was just close enough to have a moat, but just far enough that my son never had to touch a wave.
- A chair up on its side. It’s in this awkward position in an attempt to prevent my younger son from climbing onto the table. He has the attitude towards furniture that some people do towards Mt. Everest. I turn my back for a moment and he’s standing on a chair with his hands above his head, Rocky-style. My breath catches at the same time I smile. I try to hold in my laughter as I tell him, “Chairs are not for standing.”
- A real, but cheap stethoscope. It came in the hospital bag when we brought my younger son home. We never used it on him, but now he likes to toddle around the house with it hanging from his neck. We call after him, “Paging Dr. [Little Bird]!”
- A copy of Ranger Rick Jr. It’s a monthly kids’ magazine about nature published by the National Wildlife Foundation. When we get it each month, my older son declares, “The magazine is here!” That night, we snuggle up, squished together on his oversized “book chair,” as I read the factoids and stories to him. In those times, I remember back how I devoured each issue of Ranger Rick as a child and am so glad I can pass down that experience.
While this is my living room floor, everyone has similar detritus of everyday life. But instead of seeing it as junk, we can view it like shells washed up on the seashore. Each piece evokes a different set of memories; each piece tells a different piece of our family life story. These small pieces, whether moments of joy or heartache, add up into a collage.
Now, instead of cursing about all of the crap on the floor (or maybe in addition to that), I’ll pause and think about the role of these items in our lives. There’s a sense of peace in seeing that bigger picture.
So next time you see your living room floor, take a closer look. Perhaps you’ll find what you’ve been looking for all along.
For more thoughts about the messiness and beauty of mom life, be sure to follow us on Facebook!