Embracing the Season
“Wow. You can tell little kids live here.”
It’s true. In my living room, the bookshelves range from wedding photos and classic lit, to brightly-colored plastic toys and picture books. There’s perpetually construction paper projects on top of the liquor cabinet, and the odds are good that there’re more toys under my couch than I know about. Move into the kitchen, and it’s hard to miss the alphabet letter magnets gracing the fridge. Our bathroom sports a step stool to accommodate little legs, and there’s an assortment of sippy cups that migrate around the house, seemingly of their own accord.
When I first heard that comment from someone who stopped at my house, about it being so obvious that I have children in my home, my first instinct was to feel a sense of failure. Granted, the kids probably had been playing hard (translation: lots of toys strewn about), but I knew it wasn’t a compliment from the way it was said. We’ve put many hours into updating our home, and have worked hard to make it comfortable and inviting. Pinterest is full of photos of designer, showroom worthy homes, with not a throw pillow out of place, or a glass without a coaster. HGTV is brimming with shows about how people can turn their living spaces into their dream homes, as long as they have tens of thousands of dollars (at least) and a crew of professionals working around the clock for them. We’ve been chipping away at our DIY list for a few years now, and all of our cheap foam coasters have teeth marks from the three little girls who have used them as chew toys over the years.
Our house is small, by today’s standards, and we don’t have a specified play room. The arts and crafts are mostly downstairs in the basement, the play dough is stashed in the pantry, baby dolls usually bunk in the big girls’ room, and the coffee table shelf has stacks of coloring books. We find stickers everywhere. Books, too, even though we have shelves in multiple rooms, on multiple floors.
And you know what? That’s perfectly okay. Because our kids do live here. And now they actually outnumber the adults, so it’s hard to begrudge them some living room bookshelf real estate to store their toys. This is their home, too, and I don’t want them to only keep their things in one room. I want this to be a haven for them, not a place where children are neither seen nor heard.
How sad would it be to grow up in a home where Mommy was more worried about fingerprints and breakables than letting the kids just be kids. I love finding books in every room of the house, because it means my kids are learning to read, and using their little imaginations to fill in the blanks. Play food by the patio doors mean that they had a picnic, and the ball I found under my bed means someone was playing by me while I put laundry away.
I know that in a couple of decades from now, my house will probably look a little less Fisher Price and a little more Pottery Barn, but that’s not the season of life we’re in now. Yes, sometimes (okay, every day) my house does get messy with toys and books, puzzles and games… but having the mess in the living room also helps us to stay on top of it, instead of closing the door to it. It means that it’s easy for me to be part of my children’s play, instead of banishing them to another part of the house. It means that I’m watching them grow up right in front of me (literally, they’re not great with personal space). While my husband and I want to make our home welcoming to adults, we also want kids to feel comfortable here–especially our own.
You can tell that little kids live in my house, and I’m so glad.