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Tuesday, Sep. 16, 2014

Middle Aged Mom's Couch Exchange

Posted Sunday, February 10, 2013, at 8:36 AM

Wanted: Gently used couch. Big flowers and ugly pattern fine. No stains or germs.

Memory. Sitting on my Grandma's couch after Sunday dinner. My bare legs sticking to the clear plastic covering as the thick humid night air drifted through the parlor window. It took me years to understand the coverings. That day came about 24 years late as a young mother.

My four-ish and three-ish year old boys were begging for strawberry jello. I was taking care of my one-ish year old who had the flu and holding back my own barf. As I was pressing a cold cloth against my face in the bathroom, I realized no sound was coming from the living room, terror for a young mom. When I stepped out of the bathroom, I saw it. Our ignorance couch, so named because we bought it before having three, active children. Sidenote on the ignorance couch: It was a Scandinavian white sectional with light splashes of color now and then. We bought it on clearance half off the half off and had to repair two legs, but it was new. It was pristine for a day and then we realized how very stupid we were. My boys decided to help themselves to jello, but just the sweet powder. They spilled it on the ignorant couch, then in a panic decided to wipe up the mess with water... We kept that couch for 12 years.

When we were expecting our first baby, we were living a modest lifestyle. Todd had a new job, I was working part-time writing classified ads for a newspaper and finishing my last classes at the university. I took my last final at a large table brought in just for me, because my belly couldn't fit inside the curve of a student desk. We shopped at garage sales for furniture. There was no such thing as Craigslist, Ebay, or Sell-It Semo. I couldn't look on Pinterest and make furniture out of mason jars and pallets. I took advantage of my classifieds insider knowledge of where the baby items were going to be on sale on Saturday. We wanted the beautiful crib we saw at the store, but it wasn't in our price range. We bought a gently used crib and mattress at a family yard sale. The scratches and teeth marks were scrubbed with Clorox -- and the family looked decent. I was grateful for the good find. The crib lasted through three babies, before I gave it to a new mom who thought we were cootie free. Like any good mom, I knew she was going to scrub the last bit of varnish remaining on it, so I threw in a bottle of Clorox.
Fast forward through the years of kids, beds, dressers and rec rooms decked out for our kids. I made connections with other young moms and we traded mattresses, car shaped beds, dressers, play houses, and whatever we needed.

A few years ago, my oldest graduated high school and went to college. At first he had a dorm room. His mattress was stained and I bought two plastic covers. One to stop germs; one to stop mega germs. When he moved into an apartment with friends, he needed a couch. The day had finally come that I could get rid of a worn out beast of a couch I had bought in great condition from my friend - a doctor's wife.Key idea: no germs, high quality, good taste. The kids had used up all but one ounce of life it had left. And my oldest and his friends could finish it off!
The living room stuff would go to the rec room, Todd and Robin would go shopping for the long awaited furniture that we didn't have to worry about jello spilling incidents, kid's barfing on, and the underneath sash sagging from all the hot wheels being hid from your brother being shoved down the cracks and lost forever in the couch in - kind of problems! We bought a beautiful Scandinavian couch that is cream colored. Once shame on you, twice shame on me. BTW - Anybody know where I can buy form fitting plastic coverings for couches? I can't find them on Amazon... The dogs! The dogs!

Next to fly the nest, my youngest went to college and was provided a furnished apartment by the school. The furniture was used and I had to ignore that. I wasn't happy, but I was told to butt out so I did. I tried not to think of what was on that couch, what was in that couch, what germs had made their permanent home on and in that couch. She switched schools and I gave her what I could for her new place, but she didn't need a couch. Her roommate's parent's bought them a brand new couch! Only child moving off thing I guess.

Our middle child has been living with us while he went to college. During what is now his last semester, he has been awarded an internship requiring him to move to another town. His rented an unfurnished apartment. He has a hand-me down bed from his newlywed brother. His brother just got a dining room table from us, so brother let him borrow a small table for his kitchen. But... he needs a couch. I would like to give him our rec room one, but we are still reeling from the purchase of the new ignorant couch. I actually try to give him our rec room couch ensuring him a cootie free sitting experience, but it is too big.

I don't have a family hook-up, they are all giving their couches to their kids. My friends are in the same boat. I start cruising garage sales -- I am seeing the same faces. Middle aged women, scrutinizing used couches. We exchange knowing looks, "My kid would need a tetanus shot after sitting on this couch." I see the same women looking at the used furniture stores. What is that stain?

Listen, I have an idea, this is an idea born of desperation. I need to find old moms to trade couches with. A kind of old mom network. Anybody in?



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I am 48. Married to my high school sweetheart, mom of three college students, ovarian cancer survivor, only child - that is now an only adult caring for aging parents. Born in Cape, lived most of my life in Alaska. Yes, my husband and I graduated with Sarah and Todd Palin - known them most of our lives. I owned successful kitchen and bath design studios until I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Upon remission I decided to change my life. I used my English - Creative Writing degree to become a teacher. I also hold a MA in Eductation - Technology and Curriculum. We moved from Alaska back to Cape in case I died. I wanted my kids to know their cousins. That was 10 years ago. My view on life is odd. I have had extrordinary things happen and I choose to view in an extraordinary way. I am observant, intuitive, and feel like something is out there that I have yet to discover. I'm not afraid to speak my mind, quit a job because of unethical activities, and often root for the underdog. I'm sarcastic in nature and my students love it. I'm antsy, look younger than my age, and laugh really loud. Oh yeah - I love meeting odd people. Life is good. Robin Smith's blog is about observations, celebrations, and commentary about the idiosyncrasies, quirks, twists and turns of life. Exploring human nature and the people around us.
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