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February 23, 2009

Couch as metaphor

Mail.google.com Last year just before New Year’s Eve, I read in the Denver Post that Room&Board was having a sale on their discounted floor models. We had been to their Cherry Creek store the year before and lusted after their sectionals, but their prices were too high for us. Maybe with a discount we could afford to replace our nasty, old couch.

Ah, our late ‘50s/early ‘60s forest green, six piece sectional couch. The epitome of retro cool. We had bought it in Milwaukee 12 years ago for $300 soon after we moved to the Chicago area. It was a couch you’d expect to see on the set of Mad Men set, and in pristine shape for a piece of furniture that was nearly 50 years old

However, the old girl age quickly. The first major damage was when my mother-in-law spilled salad dressing on it, and the stain remover she used left an even larger spot of dried up white powder. Even so, what really did our couch in was the kids.

Nathan, who arrived a couple of years after couch, would projectile vomit on to it daily. Hourly I’d scrub regurgitated formula off the couch. It stunk so bad that I switched Nathan to soy formula just because it smelled better. Luckily, the couch was covered in kind of a nubbly, nylon fabric that took surprisingly well to daily scrubbings. So when we moved back to Colorado when Nathan was eight months old, we took our well loved couch with us. After all, his reflux wasn’t going to stop any time soon.

As Nathan got older he would occasionally pee on it during nap time, too. Then his sister Lucie soon joined the daily abuse of our getting-more-dilapidated couch with her own bout of reflux and leaky diapers. I’m surprised that the Colorado Health Department didn’t condemn the darn thing. Then again, during warm weather I would spray down the couch cushions with the garden hose and then dry them afterwards on our back deck. Some weeks the couch took more showers than I did.

But those were the days when I had two small children under four. It was hard to take a shower let alone leave the couch. I would camp there with the baby, her bottles in a cooler, a bucket full of spit cloths, the phone, the remote, a can of Diet Coke and any food I could eat with one hand. (Cereal, cookies and crackers were a good choice.) That’s what really did the couch in – not the daily coatings of body fluids, but use by me as a mother.

The couch and I spent many nights together while I fed infants or nursed feverish kids. If the kids were sick during the day, we’d all camp out on the couch watching Nick, Jr., snacking and taking naps. I had my fair share of by myself time on the couch, too, propped up with pillows and hoping not to wake up everyone with my terrible coughing or listening to my iPod during another episode of insomnia.

We had been through a lot, that couch and me. But now as her springs had sprung, it was time to replace the old lady with a new model. As we moved the old green girl to the driveway for the garbage company to pick up, I realized I was also saying goodbye to a previous life. The life where I was the exhausted, lonely stay-at-home mom with no one to keep her company but the detectives of Law & Order.

As I pulled my car away from the house that morning to meet with a client, I realized I had no regrets. There was no way I was going to return to a couch with another baby and go through that self-imposed exile again. The old one had served me well, but now it was time to move on to the next phase of couch life – lounging on it after a hard day at work.

Me and the new couch? We’re going to get along just fine.

Original Rocky Mountain Moms Blog post. Anne-Marie also blogs at A Mama’s Rant, My Readable Feast, The Write Spot, This Mama Cooks! On a Diet, and for Mom Central Food.

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