Other than a lap full of puppies and dirty feet, my favorite thing to play was, "house." An incomplete set of chipped Wedgewood dishes, an old orange rug, one small table and two little chairs were in the playhouse I loved. The house was absolutely perfect as far as I was concerned, and I knew one day, if I worked very hard and lived a good life, I'd have my own grown-up version of domestic tranquility.
I would retreat to the quietness of my own place and relax in my miniature chair and read books, work on my sticker collection, or play with paper dolls while "dinner" cooked on the pretend stove. Sometimes, I'd make real jelly sandwiches cut into little triangles, and serve them on the flower rimmed china. After the feast, I'd become the scullery maid and wash the dishes to shiny perfection in the little sink Daddy made from a small ice chest that fit snuggly down into a wooden countertop.
Every now and then, I'd invite other little girls to come visit, but they always wanted to pretend it was their house too, and tried to rearrange things. One friend wanted to hang streamers from the rafters, but I had none of that. This wasn't a wild party house, it was supposed to look elegant, like the beautiful rooms in my mother's magazines. Loud boys were never allowed to intrude on my domestic oasis. The most well behaved guests were my two dachshunds, who loved strawberry jelly sandwiches and cleaned their own plates.
I totally understood what Peanut's character Lucy Van Pelt meant, when she was asked what she wanted for Christmas and replied, "real estate." Having a neat and tidy place of my own was always my dream, but soon after my husband and I moved into our first house, noisy children came along, who in the blink of an eye, grew into noisier and messier teens.
The boys were genetically incapable of hanging up towels or putting dishes in the dishwasher, which of course, I attributed to my husband's DNA, and even though I swept the floor twice a day, the family room still looked like a sandbox.
But dreams really do come true, and I recently realized that having my grown-up-perfect-house may be in my near future. With one son in college, and another just a year away from leaving, an organized non-chaotic home will finally be mine. No more boys shouting and chasing each other around the living room, banging on the piano or shaking the walls with a loud guitar amplifier. No more dirty dishes mysteriously appearing in the kitchen overnight or science projects-gone-bad, leaving burn marks on the rugs.
So with sweet order and peace finally on the way . . . why do I dread it so much?
Actually, the noise wasn't so bad, because most of it was laughter or music, and what's wrong with that? And in reality, it wasn't that hard to cook for a crowd of teens when they showed up hungry and it really took no time at all to scoot the furniture back into place and vacuum up a few crumbs here and there, did it?
In one more year, my house will finally be perfect, and now that I'll have what I've always wanted, I think it's absolutely — terrible. Sure there's a husband around, but he's fairly well trained at this point. The hustle and bustle of children and teenagers will be gone, and I'll be left alone with jelly sandwiches for myself and maybe a few for the dog.
I'll finally have the grown-up version of my childhood playhouse, and I don't think I'll like it so much this time around. What kind of tricky life-lesson is this anyway and how did I ever fall for it? Home sweet home, indeed.