I’ve always been a nostalgic and sentimental person. I just recently came across the card my grandmother gave me for my twelfth birthday, I still have soda can tabs from dates I had with my husband before we were married hanging on my keychain, and I have every hospital wristband associated with anything to do with the kids (giving birth, Urgent Care visits, etc.). I like this about me—I like finding things that I’ve saved that bring me right back to the moment when I received them or remind me in a special way of the person to whom they’re connected.
Despite my personal nostalgic leanings, though, I never really expected to see it in my boys. Their dad’s not that way, for one thing, and I’ve generally assumed that they don’t pay much attention to what I keep or don’t keep (just like they don’t pay much attention to where I want them to put their dirty clothes, nor that I don’t want them being loud during naptime, nor that something spilled needs to be cleaned up immediately). So I’m surprised every time I realize that my oldest totally takes after me—he treasures all the special things he’s ever been given, since he was tiny. I was surprised when No. 5 told me recently that when he grows up he’s going to keep all his stuffed animals behind his pillow so he can “remember his childhood.” (He’s only five!) And I was surprised at how devastated they all were when we decided to throw away our old couch and get a new one.
Oh, that old couch! It was one of the first and only pieces of furniture we ever bought brand new. We got it right after we got married, so it’s fourteen years old. It’s been through a lot in those fourteen years, not least of all being the six boys that have jumped on it, jumped off it, puked on it, torn it, and generally destroyed it in the way little boys will. We had to flip the cushions over long ago because they were so worn, and the wood frame was exposed in several places where the upholstery was torn. Legos, broken crayons, and cracker crumbs could be found in every crevice, even though my husband regularly pulled it all apart to clean it out and vacuum it. It sagged in the middle, which meant only two people could really sit comfortably on it—one on either end—otherwise you’d fall toward the middle.
Don’t get me wrong—there were a lot of things about that old couch that I knew I’d miss. The fact that we bought it as newlyweds, for one thing. Also how I slept on the couch for the first six weeks after my last two babies were born, as well as any time any of the boys was sick, so I could tend to them at night without waking up the rest of the house, and I was always remarkably comfortable. In fact, it was, in general, a very comfortable couch for me—the sagging middle that was so annoying for anyone trying to sit on the couch was actually perfect for me when I lay down on it, as my hip fit perfectly in that valley. I loved its color (navy blue). I didn’t love that the back cushions weren’t attached, so they were constantly being thrown around and were totally misshapen by the time we got rid of the couch, but I did love that it was so easy to manipulate the cushions into the perfect comfy shape. Indeed, it was a couch to love.
But even I, with all of my sentimentality and sobbiness over the passage of time and the milestones that mark it, couldn’t wait to throw that couch away when it finally came time to do so. It was ragged and filthy, and we needed more seating. We replaced it with a sectional that all eight of us can sit comfortably on at the same time! It’s everything we didn’t have in the old couch.
When the boys found out we’d be throwing the old couch away though, what a collective wail went up! “No Mama!” they said. “We can’t throw the couch away! We LOVE the old couch!” And they hugged it and sat on it and looked at it sadly, took pictures of it from various angles, and devised various plans for putting it somewhere else in the house, so we wouldn’t have to throw it away. What crazy kids!
Fortunately, though their pleas were fruitless, their mourning didn’t last too long. The old couch is gone, the new one is here, and everyone loves it. We have very strict rules in place about no standing or jumping on the new couch and no eating on it either, which likely won’t last very long, but if we get fourteen years out of this couch with all the people we have in our house, I’ll feel pretty good. Although, I realized recently that my oldest will be twenty six when this couch is fourteen, and I simply cannot wrap my mind around that, nor think too much about it, because if it’s possible to be nostalgic and wistful about things that haven’t happened yet, I totally am.