Spots and Stains and Childhood Memories

The other day, Hubby and I were looking at the furniture in our "nice" living room. The couch has what looks like a pee stain on it, the white leather chair (yes, I said white leather and I have four boys and yes I am an idiot) has a blue ink stain on it, and the coffee table is all scratched up.

The furniture in our family room fares no better - saggy chairs and couches, lumpy pillows, and an ottoman with so many milk stains and food caught in its cracks that I have stopped trying to get it out anymore.

Dents in the walls and missing towel racks in the bathrooms and holes where they ought to be. The black mark on the kitchen wall that will not come off no matter how hard I scrub it (seriously, what IS that anyway??).

Hubby's mother, who raised five girls and three boys is famous for saying, "Yes, boys are hard on your furniture, but girls are hard on your nerves. You can always buy new furniture." The rest was left implied, and I often remind myself of it when I find myself longing for a daughter.

A couple weeks ago when I went to pick up two-year-old Edgie from preschool, he ran excitedly up to me with a paper sack on which he had stamped snowflakes and painted a beautiful blue color. He pressed it against the front of my white coat. (Yes, I know, white again! My sister-in-law, who is dainty and girly, talked me into it.) When I got home, I realized the paint had left a huge, sticky, blue mark on my coat. Try as I might, nothing has budged that stain.

It's smaller now, all but a speck of blue, but it glares out to me. Maybe no one else will notice it. But every time I put on that white coat, I will see that blue stain.

I will see that blue stain and remember how Edgie cried the first few weeks of preschool and how it broke my heart so much that I cried pulling out of the parking lot.

I will remember how one day he finally fought back tears, and when I went to pick him up he proudly said, "I not cry, Mommy!"

I will remember how I thought the best feeling in the world was my two-year-old running into my arms after three hours of being away from me. I will remember how those three hours made me a better mom in the long run.

That blue stain will remind me of a lot of things, just like the big hole in the bathroom wall reminds me that I have a house full of boys who are more aggressive than gentle. And how great that is when it comes to telling you their feelings.

I will see the scratches on the coffee table and I will remember how they played intensely, imaginatively, and how much I loved watching them create.

I will see the nicks on the legs of the table and I will remember exactly the day that Joey put those dents there - literally a week after we got the table. It is proof that he was here.

I look around at all the things that my sons have been hard on, and I see them as just that - things - but also so much more. They are vessels that hold memories, places, and times. They tell the stories of the boys who lived with us.

Why in the world would I ever want new furniture?


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