I think I was about 8 months pregnant when I found it. It wasn’t something we really needed, but I think it was my Mom who encouraged us to look for it, you need a new table for your new house.
I remember those months so vividly. We were building our first home and each evening Chad and I excitedly drove the mile and a half from our tiny apartment to see what the builders had accomplished that day. Look we have a roof! Oh my, we have walls! Oh my goodness, there is a new nail here! It didn’t matter how big or small the changes were–we were thrilled by each and every one. Day by day, it seemed the changes in our house matched the changes to my belly. Before we knew it, our life would look very different and it was as scary as it was exciting. Change and I have never been real friends and so fear may have been the prominent emotion at that time. I decided to take my Mom’s advice and go shopping for a new table. (My Mom believed a little retail therapy could cure most anything.)
I remember the day I found it. It was a beautiful sunny day early in the fall. I drove 25 minutes to a town in Amish Country (little did I know we would eventually move there) and walked into the furniture store having no idea what I was doing. It felt like such an adult thing to do at the time–am I old enough to buy furniture? The store was dark except for the beautiful morning sunlight that flooded through the front window. I remember a woman asking me if she could help me and I did my best to pretend that I was old enough to buy furniture and told her, I’m looking for a kitchen table.
I remember little else from my trip to the furniture store except that I loved our table. I had selected a high table with high chairs. It was suitable for a family of 4 or it had a leaf that could fold out and sit 8 people comfortably. The wood was stained in a deep brown color and was so perfectly smooth with beautiful wood grains running throughout. I called Chad and excitedly told him about the table.
(Perhaps my enthusiasm about the table should have indicated that yes, I am old enough to buy a table?)
I remember the day we brought the table into our new home. I remember the day my Mom came and saw it in our new house for the very first time and put a centerpiece on it. I remember the pride I felt in a simple table.
And then, Charlie was born.
At first, the table was just fine. I remember putting Charlie in his swing as an infant and Chad and I would spend hours sitting at that table piecing together puzzles. I remember watching Charlie swing back and forth and talking about the day when Charlie would one day be able to join us at our table. I remember envisioning a growing family sitting around our perfectly stained, flawless table.
And then, Charlie needed to eat. Real food. With a fork.
Out of nowhere, our perfect little table became a drum for a one year old, evidenced by countless fork pricks all over the table. Our perfect table quickly became just 3/4 perfect and 1/4 toddler stab zone.
Then we had Chanelle. 1/2 perfect 1/2 toddler stab zone.
And Meadow. 1/4 perfect 3/4 stab zone.
Oh, and there was that time I put a hot pan on the table. No more perfect.
To be honest, for years, I’ve been embarrassed about the condition of our table. Wishing I could avoid it when people come over to dinner. I’ve found, however, that people get uncomfortable when I ask them to eat on the floor. Instead, I find myself explaining the table and making excuses for our very imperfect kitchen table and begging Chad on a weekly basis to take it somewhere to get it ‘fixed’.
Until last week. .
Last week Meadow and I were sitting at the table together. I sat and watched her as she formed animals out of Play-Doh and very carefully glued various pieces of paper together.
I’m not sure what hit me in that moment, but I looked down at our table, covered in Play-Doh and glue and hot pan stains and markers and I’m pretty sure I saw last nights dinner and I thought to myself. . . what a story this table tells.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Perfect is over-rated. I’ll take a good story over perfection any day. . .
Stories of simple joy. . .
I’ll take it.