I was pregnant with boy #1 when we bought our house, a little over seven years ago. We were moving from the furnished, 3-bedroom 1-bath ranch rental where we’d lived for seven years, to an empty 4-bedroom, 2 and a half bath 2-story contemporary house, and we didn’t have much furniture. (We would be moving in with a sofa, papasan chair, and entertainment stand for the living room; two sets of bedroom furniture, and a large, L-shaped desk for the office)
We made selections we knew were mostly temporary; because we were starting our family, we knew that most of our purchases would take a beating from the little person(s) we would be bringing home. We found a “buy the room” package for the living room that included a sofa and love seat, matching throw pillows, two end tables, two lamps, and a coffee table. We found a “kitchen table in a box” that we loved- a pub height number constructed of dark wood, and four chairs.
As an interior designer, part of my job is to make sure I’m making selections that are suitable for the people inhabiting the spaces I’m designing. Ryan is over six feet tall, so I try to consider his height where there’s an option to make life more comfortable for him. The pub-height table, in addition to being a style we really love, is a great way to accommodate his longer legs. An added bonus, we found, was that the height of the table was perfect for pulling high chairs up next to us. I had been a bit concerned about kids falling from the higher chairs, but my boys did very well; we never had a major incident of that sort.
Now, my math leaves much to be desired sometimes, but I’m sharp enough to be aware that four chairs is one less than we need for five people (granted, we really hadn’t planned on having twins; they were an extra special bonus). Once we got past the twins’ high chair stage, there was a brief period where the five of us shared four chairs. Moms, you know how it goes at mealtimes, when we often don’t get to sit anyway, between forgetting to put the ketchup on the table, forks get dropped, drinks need refilled, the salt did’t make it to the table…someone is always needing something. For awhile, I didn’t really notice that I didn’t have a seat. Ryan did, though, and often complained that I was standing for my meals. That is, when he was home at dinnertime. His job often requires he spend extra hours at the office in the evenings. Pair that with baseball and soccer season, and the result is only a few evenings we even missed an extra chair.
Regardless, I eventually bought another stool to put at the table so we could all sit at the same time- particularly as the boys are getting older and are less needy. Looking at my kitchen table, it’s obviously seen better days. When I don’t have a table cloth or place mats on it, the battle scars show through. There’s the series of circular marks where I once cooled red velvet whoopie pies on a tea towel rather than on a cooling rack and the steam left stains. There’s a mark in the center of the table where a candle dripped during our New Year’s Eve party one year and melted the finish from the table. There are small scratches where our oldest would hit his silverware on the wood in anticipation of dinner. Our table may be aging prematurely, but I can say from personal experience, children tend to have that effect.
They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, and ours is no different. Our kitchen is our gathering place; it’s where we go as soon as we walk in the door from the garage. It’s where we have meals together, talk about our days, entertain guests. Our kitchen is home to impromptu dance parties, it’s where all the messes happen. And the table has been extra seating for birthday parties, has been the appetizer bar for our annual New Year’s Eve party, has been the gathering place for countless events and moments over the past seven years. Silly conversations, sad conversations, serious conversations, and many, many cups of coffee later (with an “adult beverage” thrown in here and there), our table can always make room for one more.
We’ve talked about upgrading, and while I’ll never turn down the opportunity to shop for furniture, the table we have is sort of a member of the family, holding memories and symbolizing our growth as a family. And I’m ok with that.
*Title credit goes to my friend and sounding board, the amazing Lori Burke. Check out her podcast, Love Notes, and find her on Facebook @LoriBurkeMusic