Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I Never Make Decorating Mistakes

When I walked into the showroom, I knew it was a bad idea. I was alone, as alone as you can be with a 3 month old, a 5 year old, and a 7 year old. It was 11:00 a.m. and I had weeks ago run out of ways to keep my children entertained during the month of January. The Sunday paper circular advertised a huge furniture blow out from a furniture showroom that was 10 acres big and two stories high. They also featured a root beer bar and chocolate chip cookies. While the paper said Super Sale I read Field Trip, so half an hour ago I strapped the three into their safety seats and tucked my hair into a fetching cap so I would at least look like I might buy a piece of furniture. I drove my crew out of my driveway and onto the interstate that would take us to the corner of Hwy 60 and Port Road.

“This will be fun, kids! We're going to a furniture store and you know what they have there? Bunk beds you can look at and pretend bedrooms where you can get ideas for your dream rooms!”

“Can we try the beds?” Their eyes grew wide.


“Yay! Furniture!” A chorus filled the minivan with my voice being the loudest. We were getting out! We were doing something new! We had found a way to kill time until Mark came home!

At this point, you need to be aware that my husband conducts our finances with one goal in mind: to retire with a million bucks and buy an RV. You know what that means as well as I do, there is no way I can decide to just buy furniture. I knew that today was novelty, chocolate chip cookies and root beer through paper straws. And a bit of daydreaming about bunk beds and a leather sectional never hurt nobody.

How hard can it be to not spend money?

Well, four minutes into the store visit and I was already love sick. My first furniture heartbreak and it was over not being able to think about leaving the store without what was in the first showroom. A dark, rich, reclaimed barnwood kitchen table with two black benches (how freakin' Laura Ingalls cute) alongside instead of clumsy chairs that were too hard for kids to push in. I wanted that table so much my neck was starting to itch.

I twisted my hair in anguish. This table, why can't I have this table? I don't ask for much of anything, keep my children fed, warm, and loved and I'm yours for life (hence the wedding ring) BUT this table? Is there a god I can pray to for this table?

The rest of the afternoon clipped along, my kids sat on beds, tried recliners, talked in voices 100 decibels louder than I'd usually allow about who would get the top bunk and where they'd keep their toys. We were having the best daydream of a day. We sat at the pretend '50s diner and munched on free cookies.

“Mom, this is fun!”

“I know, right? Want to come again?”

YES!,” everyone around me agrees. 
Monday morning, we were back. It was drizzly and grey, but inside the showroom? Glorious sunshine from heaven above as my table threw out its rays of blazing light. Once more, we stopped and my children patiently understood while I ran my fingers along six feet of sturdy, solid splendor. I chewed on my lip and swallowed hard and my eyes grew misty. Later, my son told me he heard me whispering to it.

“You guys, mom really likes this table."

"Look, mom! You can roll out paper and draw on it it's so long. It seats eight!”

“It could be a birthday party table!"

“Preaching to the choir, my children."
“We could have watermelon seed spitting contests it's so long!”


“And then we could use it for bowling with bottles and baseballs on top because IT'S SO LONG!”

“Yes! YES!”

Before we even took our places at our new favorite cookie counter, that table had a SOLD sign on it in my heart.

“You guys," I said while finishing the cookies they left because leftovers eaten by mothers have no calories. "I want that table.”

“You should get it, mom. It would be fun.”

“I can't just buy something without seeing if your dad says yes. I wouldn't want him to buy something without seeing if I say yes.”

"Is that because he wants to keep as much money as he can?"
My kids were no strangers to the budget talks. We left the store once more, but not without a longing look back at our table.

“Bye bowling alley,” said my oldest.

“Bye table!” The rest of us waved. Well, the three of them waved, I cried.

Somehow I had to find a way to get this table. It would be ours for the next 100 years and the kids were still young enough for us to get use out of it for crafts, homeschooling, birthday parties, and my chicken nugget dinners.

Once home, I searched out the measuring tape. This table, this 8-seat with two fold-out leaves at the end would sit just right along the north end of the kitchen wall. I put my hands on my hips and imagined a fiesta red runner down the middle of the boards, a long-necked turquoise blue vase with a solitary daisy standing in the center, and all of us, seated around it. This kitchen could become our nest instead of a place to eat and run as it was now, because of the limited use round oak breakfast nook.

Ten years later, the showroom table sits in our kitchen. Where my youngest sits is speckled with light brushes of yellow from when he was first learning to control a paint brush. My oldest's chair, against the north wall, is gummy and tomato-tacky to the touch from his love of ketchup. The benches have been replaced with high-back chairs as the kids grew into them. This table is the heartbeat of this house, where we have celebrated birthday parties at dawn, slurped July watermelon while sitting in the breeze of open patio doors, and where we have sent one son off to college while its entire surface was edge to edge with congratulatory cards of good wishes. Our last Christmas with my mother was spent here, when she took Auggie's place at the table next to me, since she had become the one I now got up for.

I never did have to plead my case for this table to my husband. He saw the spark in my eyes when we took him along on our next “table field trip” and I told him how he would sit at the west end because he liked the sunrise and four-year-old Auggie would be next to me because I'm the one who gets up for him. The other half of the table would be piled high with paints, papers, monopoly boards, and home-made bowling games that we wouldn't have to move because this table, ahhhhh, the LENGTH of this table.

We bought the table.

“It wasn't even for you,” he later told me. “It was how you wanted it for the kids. The way you always want things through the kids' lives. You told me everything you knew would happen on that table. I looked at it, and I saw it, too.”
* * *


  1. In case I haven't told you this lately, I just love you. And those boys? Well, they are pretty darn great, too. <3

    1. We've been friends so long, Alisha. That's important to me. Thank you. xo

  2. I love this! Currently looking for a new table where we can make some awesome new memories.

  3. That last paragraph made me teary. You always do that to me, dang it. :-)

    1. You know, I often think we share the same heart. xo

  4. Yes, yes, yes! There are so many incredible things to come to your table. I love this! I think it makes me love some of the handwriting on thin paper indentations that mark our kitchen table a little bit more.

    1. I love this table, the sticky place where auggie sits, the far end where paint has dried leaving yellow daisy petals. I love it.

  5. I expected to laugh when I read the title, but instead I'm trying to keep the tears in. This was beautiful. I love your husband's response.

    1. Thank you, Jennie. The table is alive for me, in the strangest way. I love it, just looking at it, I see everything we've had with it.

  6. I want to sit at that table with you someday.

  7. I barely made it through the first paragraph of this without getting weepy. But then this at the very end, *gulp*

    “It wasn't even for you,” he later told me. “It was how you wanted it for the kids. The way you always want things through the kids' lives. You told me everything you knew would happen on that table. I looked at it, and I saw it, too.”

    Someone is cutting up onions in this place, y'all. Holy, Alexandra... I loved everything about this, and most of all your heart that seeps through. Because your husband's words ring true. What a wonderful mommy/pillar you are to your family... And that you had the vision on that furniture store floor room to imagine the life's possibilities and exciting milestones--well, that's just the cherry on top of this beautiful table :)


    Always a pleasure to be here.

    1. Charlotte, I can't wait to talk to you about your table and all that it will hold. xo



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