Before I had kids I had a lot of books. I majored in English in college, so reading was my thing. I had first edition copies of some of my favorites, whole volumes of Shakespeare and the latest best sellers. Books everywhere, books galore. I had an entire (HUGE) Ikea shelf dedicated to my favorite books and little trinkets and souvenirs from my travels around the world. I would dust it regularly, picking up each item and momentarily remembering where I was when I bought it or found it, a little riding boot shaped table lighter I found in an antique shop in Prague, a small ceramic "chicken bus" I got as a gift in Guatemala.
this is what my shelf looked like? Isn't it pretty?!
I also had a white couch. Like pristine white. White pillows, white everything. I also had an antique pink quilted chair that actually sat in the same room as the white couch and the bookshelf. I had framed prints of my favorite paintings from the Tate in London. Ah...it was all so nice.
And then I had my first child.
At first I was totally oblivious to the fact that my life was about to change drastically. There my firstborn would sit peacefully in his brand spanking new Boppy, right on the white couch. A little spit up, oh no problem, I would clean that right up with a Magic Eraser. This was easy! I didn't have to change my entire life to fit in a child! All I had to do was add a few baby things into the mix. I bought one of those brain boosting black and white geometric shape dangling baby gyms for him and I thought man, that even looks cool with my decor.
And then he started crawling, and pulling himself up, and literally THE NEXT THING HE DID was pull my books off the shelf. One by one, onto a great pile on the floor, just having a ball.
Okay, no problem. I'll just move them a few shelves up. No big deal. Still cool. Still cool. But rather quickly the usable shelves got fewer and fewer, the more treasured souvenirs got put away out of reach onto increasingly crowded higher up spaces, and the books got packed up for when he would no longer be a terror to them.
Cut to me four kids later. The white couch is GONE. Haha, so gone. Replaced with one that I specifically bought because the salesman said it was "toddler proof", after forking out the extra money to cover any damage or major spills. The pink chair remains, albeit sequestered in a blocked off living room that children are not allowed to roam free in at the current moment. The bookshelf that I so loved? It's in my garage/wannabe "mudroom" full of tiny pairs of shoes and boots and backpacks and swim goggles and board games missing important pieces. No books on it except for a few library books that fell out of backpacks. Lunchboxes. So many lunchboxes. The shelf basically looks like a school bus threw up on it.
Plus, now I have a Talley. An 18 month old adorable and cherubic blonde, blue eyed wind-up toy bent on destruction.
She is the perfect combination of giant toddler (she is 18 months wearing size 3T, she is enormous) and inquisitive, and she is tall enough to reach onto all of the counters and surfaces, and strong enough to basically just wreak havoc on all living spaces. Loaf of bread left on the counter? Emptied on the floor. Cereal box left out for a fraction of a second? Forget it. Her toddler sixth sense will hone in on that box of Cheerios and three quarters of it will be mashed under her chubby feet before you can even get over there. Just the other day she pushed the laundry hamper over to the counter and dipped each and every single toothbrush into the pretty grapefruit candle I had burning. Every toothbrush. Into the candle wax. I literally have to hide toothbrushes from this child now. She pulls gallons of milk onto the floor, we can only use the two back burners of the stove and even THEN I still guard it.
You want to buy nice wicker toy baskets, take the time to carefully write "TOYS" on it and place them lovingly in the corner? She will use one as a sort of makeshift armor to headbutt her brothers while giggling hysterically. Any and every single drawer is fair game for being methodically emptied onto the floor. Taking her upstairs to bed she will reach out a plump sweet arm and knock pictures off of the wall where I spent hours, HOURS lining them all up. Oh and the play kitchen? Jungle gym. No fake cooking going on there, my friend.
While simultaneously being one of the sweetest, cutest, most loving children I have ever been blessed to know, she is also just a whirlwind of property destruction. People laugh when I tell them that I need to watch her AT ALL TIMES until they see how quickly she can dismantle even the most complicated and secure of baby gates. This baby is no joke. This baby is why baby-proofing was invented. She tries to ride the dog, she leaps off the ottoman with her arms spread onto throw pillows, pretty much anything she can attempt to balance herself on she will do, especially if your back is turned for three point two seconds. And the toilet? Oh the toilet. Probably close to hundreds of dollars of toilet paper and personal belongings have taken a trip into our toilet. Towels, phones, TOOTHBRUSHES, sippy cups, anything and everything must take the magical journey into the toilet bowl of mystery. Same goes for the heating vent. Wallets, car keys, sunglasses, lip balms (why so many lip balms, Talley? WHY), pretty much anything that you deem an essential to your day to day life will get put down our heating vent at some point.
So, what do I do? I watch her. All the time. Like a hawk. My books have all been put away for when? I have no idea. The trinkets are in a cabinet in the forbidden living room behind lock and key (literally) and the baby lost the pretty tasseled key I had for it so who knows when I will actually touch them again. My long ago thought that my house would not be given over to kids stuff has faded over the years to the point where most of the artwork on my walls at this current moment was done in crayon. The framed picture over my mantle is a watercolor rainbow painted by a three year old. Our bathroom has been overtaken by foam letters and an eclectic combination of Paw Patrol squeezy toys and empty shampoo bottles the kids just can't seem to part with for some reason. I have a whale on my faucet, a whale mat on the floor, a watermelon shower curtain and four different woodland creature shaped toothbrush holders affixed to my mirror, eleven or so assorted character toothpastes which cycle in and out of favor and probably like four Thomas the Tank engine toothbrushes. Princess towels, Lightning McQueen robes, and so many tiny pairs of underwear.
My bedroom remains the last holdout on the kid stuff front, but even that gets invaded. I find Lego crossbows and Calico Critters scattered on the carpet. I'll climb into bed at the end of a long day and stretch out, only to find the missing Beanie Boo we were desperately searching for at the bottom of my blankets, left there from the night before when one of these little maniacs climbed into my bed in the wee hours of the morning to be soothed by a nightmare.
And you know what? I wouldn't want it any other way.