Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, August 14, 2023

A Tale of Two Couches, and Being Worried About Many Things

The Stairwell of (Furniture) Doom

(This is a time capsule post, so at the end of the year I can look back and laugh at myself.)

Last Wednesday we descended on IKEA en masse, in the big van, to buy a loveseat. Our daughter's boyfriend rents our large attic room as a studio apartment, and he'd been wanting a couch for a while, to give him (and my daughter) a place to sit other than the bed. And, rather suddenly, his parents were coming for dinner, so it was a good time to make the space look furnished to an adult level. 

Normally, I would consult Craiglist or Facebook Marketplace for furniture, being of the generation that never bought anything new as a child. But getting things up to our attic involves navigating the attic stairs, a tightly curving passage that has brought many a large item to grief. The last time we tried to get a fully assembled loveseat up there, when our lodger first moved in, it involved six people getting increasingly testy as the couch stuck, gouged walls (we're still missing chunks of plaster), and threatened to jam permanently in the stairwell. The only way anything large gets up those stairs is in a flatpack.

If anyone does flatpacks, it's IKEA. Since the issue was not necessarily price but portability, my daughter and her boyfriend settled on the loveliest settee in the store, a rolled-arm piece in a moody grey-green. We were all jovial as we waited down by the doors for the packages to be rolled out to us, the couch not being in the pack-it-up-yourself aisles. And we were suddenly unjovial when it came out to us in a huge box.

"Maybe it's in pieces inside the box," we said, and we took it home (the van is that big) and opened it. It was not in pieces. It was perhaps the only mostly-assembled loveseat IKEA sells (we had to screw on the legs, but that was it). And we could tell by the measurements that it was simply too big to fit up the attic stairs, legs or no. But it was handsome, far nicer than the tattered loveseat in the living room, and so we did not part with it. My daughter's boyfriend, a good sport, did his best to hide his disappointment. His parents were arriving in three hours.

So Darwin (who was working from home) and I set up shop and did research on how all IKEA's couches are assembled, and came up with a list of five or six that could go through the attic stairs and over the top of the stairwell in flat pieces. I stayed at home and spearheaded the last-minute cleaning and cooking while Darwin and the young man headed back to IKEA, found a full-sized couch that came in pieces (because it was easier to get a disassembled couch than a disassembled loveseat), and arrived home just as the parents pulled up. A delightful evening was had by all, dining and singing and putting furniture together.

That was Wednesday, I say. Thursday morning, I rushed over to my mother-in-law's house to bring her an ice pack (actually, a bag of frozen peas) when she'd fallen and bruised her knees. Darwin was at work, but it was easy for me to help because I was at home.

This is not the way I will be able to spend my days soon, when I will be contractually obliged to be at school from 8-3, teaching. My fears and anxieties about this cycle so rapidly that it's best to just let them wash over me without trying to solve any of them, but I am indeed sorry to lose the flexibility to shape each day to the necessity at hand. At this moment, I wish I were sending the kids to school and staying home myself -- which is exactly the opposite of the way I felt when I first made the choice to teach. As I say, there's no point in reasoning with any of this. 

School starts on Thursday, but my first full day of meetings is tomorrow. We have the school uniforms at little expense, thanks to the uniform exchange, and the school supplies at greater expense. It burns up my homeschooling heart to buy three sets of markers and to write the kindergartener's name on every crayon, though of course I understand why it's necessary. There's going to be a lot of adapting to an institutional setting, if not for the kids, then for me. The amount of new passwords I've had to create in the past week is maddening. 

I'm clinging to the first enthusiasm I had when I wanted more children than my own to have the musical building blocks that will last them a lifetime, and hoping that my first days in the classroom will revive that energy. I'm hoping that at the end of the day, I'll have anything left for my own family, and for the production of Murder on the Orient Express that Darwin is directing, and that I've committed to stage manage. Lots of other people go to work, and some even reenter the workforce after 22 years, and they survive it.

And now we're off to buy school lunch supplies, and tonight is the last round of auditions for Murder, and then maybe I'll sit on my new loveseat before I go to bed and get up early to go to work. 


Jamie said...

So much solidarity on returning to the workforce after years spent tending a large family! Very best wishes for a peaceful start to a joyful year.

Antoinette said...

Which daughter has a boyfriend?

Emily J. said...

I hope your first week went well! I understand the nervousness - having also just started teaching full time - a move that I didn't mean to make and had anxiety about for weeks. But now it has begun, and it is both harder and easier than I anticipated. My feet are killing me! But the teaching part so far is going well.

On school supplies: After years of juggling lists and spreadsheets and ads while buying school supplies for half a dozen kids, I truly appreciate that our school charges $40 a kid to buy school supplies in bulk for classroom use. I might at one time have rebelled against this communitarian move, but now I'm glad not to have to mess with buying them. We just send in Kleenex every so often.

Darwin said...


That approach to group purchase of school supplies sounds wonderful, especially after having to get on Facebook groups and puzzle out what exactly the religious ed classroom needed in terms of "one pack silver metallic pencils, one pack gold". (In keeping with the reputation of the two metals, the gold ones are much more expensive to come by than the silver ones.)

I'd happily pay a supplies fee to not deal with it.