“Are we grown-ups yet?”
I’m still asking my wife this question after almost eighteen years of marriage, three kids, two apartments, and a house later.
To date, the jury is still out.
In light of being “grown up,” the evidence is apparent: we have a wonderful home and community, “grown-up” careers, our own cars, and new furniture (including a headboard I promised her since apartment number two).
The furniture is the biggest deal, that is, as an indicator of being settled and having an “adult achievement unlocked.” When we move, we all owe someone something for the house or apartment we have to leave, but taking our beloved furniture with us from place to place says something about “arriving” as a grown up–and yes, some of us are looking at 40 and have only recently “arrived.”
Growing up, I remember years-without-change of the same adored furniture sets at my aunt’s, parents’, and grandparents’ houses, and it was always a news-making event whenever someone got a new set, as if it was a medallion in the game of life–which we all know it is, in a way.
Our early marriage living room turned first-kid living room turned we-have-a house-now living room and guest room ended up housing hand-me-down loveseats, well-worn three-seaters, comfy armchairs we rarely used, and the greatest of all sleeper sofas, the “flower couch” that bore the brunt of our 20s and would be our mainstay from newlyweds until third kid. For more than a decade, the flower couch, known for its flower pattern, was our only couch, and it made its way from place to place (all 200-odd pounds of metal-framed, pull-out glory), up slight stairways and through unforgiving door frames–and it lasted longer than our college futons and blow-up mattresses.
But, lo and behold–our living room–with all its kid-friendly charm–now plays home to some very grown-up, practical, and good-looking furniture (as do the bedrooms, including the kids’ new favorite, the bunk bed). The kids still play “hot lava” and build blanket and pillow forts on the weekend, but never with the new pillows or cushions (Mom and Dad forbid!). However, it would be fitting to have a “grown-up” sleeper sofa (with sheets to match), but we’re not quite there yet. With the arrival of our new furniture came the realization that the old mentality of keeping the plastic on the couches for as long as possible just makes sense (I guess my grandparents were onto something).
We are still (only a few years now) in the process of “breaking in” the new furniture over the course of a decade or two, but we are lazier and more worn down than the rest of humanity (mostly because of the children). Also, I couldn’t imagine falling asleep on a plastic-covered couch while watching our favorite non-kid-friendly shows. Plus, we purchased the accompanying cleaners and stain-removers that erase kid and dad-caused stains, including the “why did you let the toddler have a banana on the couch” spot to “yes, erasable markers stain, trust me” blotch.
There’s so much to learn about being a grown-up with new furniture.
The two and three-seater sofas, as well as the armchair, will probably be broken in in less time than most, and way before the third kid buys her first futon and heads off to that first off-campus college apartment.
Suffice to say, we have “arrived” as adults, and we understand the fragility of the “” furniture set becoming the “when are mom and dad going to get new couches, they’ve had those forever” pieces of worn-in lumber and fabric.