Tuesday, January 24, 2012


     It seems as if I could divide my life up into two stages, there's life pre - kids and then there's my life as a mom. And although, more years of my life have been spent in the pre - kids stage I can tell you that it often feels like a distant memory. When you become a mom, so much in your life changes and I know that sounds cliché but it is simply true. There are all the obvious reasons that I think most new moms are prepared for; you're now responsible for another human being, someone else's needs will always come before your own, and  you will learn to function on 1/3 of the sleep that you were accustomed to before. These are all the changes that first time moms seem to be expecting and if you have really honest "mommy friends" then you are also ready for; not being able to eat an entire meal without rushing or "sharing", having disagreements with your husband regarding discipline, being so exhausted at times that you give in and allow your child to do something that you swore you'd never let your child do, having less quality time with your husband, and admitting that after 2 or 3 kids you're body will never be the same.  But one thing that still continues to surprise me, after 3 kids and 10 years of being a mom, is how we are constantly changing our home to meet their needs.   
     We were fortunate enough to be able to buy our home before it was even built. Therefore, we were allowed to pick out all of the flooring, cabinets, etc. When we made these choices for our home, our first child was only 8 months old. Needless to say, we did not make the best choices. We chose white cabinets, light tan speckled carpet, light tile with almost white grout, light colored Corian countertops, and an air conditioner unit that was too small for the size of our home.
     I remember when we moved in, the carpet smelled new and everything appeared to be shiny and clean. In our bathrooms we had towels that were just "for looks",there were matching furniture sets in our living rooms and bedrooms, brand new leather couches, and with only 1 child and 5 rooms we had room to spare. We had a room decorated with lavender and flowers for guests, a faux painted office with a travel theme, our son's room, and a room just for toys. I remember feeling like the 2300 square foot home was like a mansion since we had been living in a one bedroom condo with only 700 square feet. Our home remained in order for a few years; nice, neat, well decorated, and clean as only an OCD person would clean their home. It remained this way for a few years as we only had one child for the first 4 years in our home.
     I would have to say our home slowly started to change after we found out our second child was going to be born. We were now giving up our "guest room" to the new baby so we keep a play room for the kids. That guest room has now been a guest room, a baby's room, another baby's room, a playroom, and is now currently what our family calls the "preschool room". We have recently dismantled our office to regain a playroom and now my bedroom is part office/part bedroom. All of these changes I know are just normal. As you have more children, obviously you have to make changes in your home to accommodate their needs. However, lately I have been pondering the things that have changed slowly over time and I wonder what has happened to that brand new home we moved into 9 years ago.
    Remember that light colored carpet? I'm sure you could use your imagination, light carpet + 3 little boys. And I am not lying when I say I just scrubbed poop off that carpet today due to the 2 year old who is trying to potty train himself. His idea, not mine. The light colored grout in our tiled living room?  Let's just say that underneath our large area rug the floor doesn't appear to be the same color.  The towels in the bathroom that were "just for looks" - now we're lucky to be able to find a clean towel and we can't hang anything on the towel rack in the bathroom because the 2 year old thinks it's a handlebar to swing on....he's been known to pull it right out of the wall. We have nice furniture that we have gotten rid of because edges were too sharp for little ones and we currently have no curtains because one of the boys pulled them down and broke the rod. They were an odd dingy color anyways and had holes in them from the short time when we entertained the idea of being dog owners.
    I would say our home used to be nicely decorated, clean, and organized and now you can find patched holes, scuff marks, marker/crayon marks, or a carpet stain in almost every room. Lots of our home decor items have been lost to "accidents" or sold at garage sales due to our constant redecorating of rooms.  Now don't misunderstand me, our home is not filthy, nor would you walk in and think that we are dirty people. Although there have been times when our neighbors have come over unannounced and I have been mortified or afraid that they would sit at our dining room table which could be covered in a myriad of gooey substances at any given time. 
    So lately, this has been bothering me. Reminiscing about our new home and the level of cleanliness that I was able to maintain just seems to discourage me. It bothers me that when you walk into our home; the first room is empty and bare, our playroom (previously office) has no organization, and we have an entire room just for learning and arts & crafts. We need new curtains, flooring, and a TV (ours currently has a large stripe on it). Our dining room table is gross; there are things that can not be scrubbed off, the chair pads are stained and last week one of the arms fell off.
  In frustration with  my inability to keep my house decorated and clean like I would like to,  I have been  thinking back to the accommodations that we have made and how the house got to looking the way it does now. And what I've come to realize is that the changes our house has endured; all those scuffs and holes in the walls, even the gross stuff on our carpet are all part of how our house became a home. After our first child, we were told we didn't have a good chance of conceiving more children on our own. When I think back to our house 9 years ago, it was nice, clean, and well decorated.  But it was simply a nice house with empty closets and empty rooms. If we had only had our first child, our home would most likely look similar if not better than it did when we first moved in. But I can't even imagine how empty our lives would be without our last two children. With all their mess and destructiveness they bring joy, love, and laughter.   
     Every room we have changed or remodeled, every hole from a toy being thrown, stains on carpet from poop or vomit, saggy couches from years of use, marks on walls and furniture from when children have gotten a hold of markers when no one was looking ........these just represent the memories our kids are making. The nice things that we don't have or the lack of  newer replacements just symbolize the financial sacrifices we are making in order for me to be home with our children while they are young. Our once empty closets are now full of toys, games, books, and photo albums. And our former brand new house has evolved into a "home" where children live, play, fight, break things, make messes, and create childhood memories that they will have forever.
    Since becoming a mom, I feel as if I have lost my organized, tidy  house to my children.  However, they have taken it and made it their home. And someday they will be gone, living in their own houses, making their own homes and creating memories with their own families.
     And so when I feel frustrated at the numerous carpet stains, furniture that is breaking, the messiness that comes from toys, and the constant struggle to stay organized.....I will try to remember that I am a mom and I am not in the business of maintaining a neat, well decorated house but instead I am in the business of creating a place my children will want to call HOME.

Nathan and I in our kitchen while our house was still being built.

My towels that were just " for looks" have been replaced by an empty towel bar that the 2 yr. old thinks is a jungle gym.

Our empty front living room. I guess if it's empty there's less to clean :)
Our current " preschool room"