house

What My House Looked Like in My Dreams Versus Reality

Beige siding house exterior with covered porch and trimmed bushes in front. View of soft blue staircase with narrow walkway.

Back when my husband and I first bought our house, we had a vision for what it would look like: two kids’ rooms, a beautifully appointed guest room, and a living room with modest furniture and decor.

We set up the guest room right away, but the two kids’ rooms remained empty for quite some time. Meanwhile, our dining room featured antique furniture inherited from my husband’s grandmother, which we often adorned with candlesticks as we dined, sipped wine, and dreamt out loud about our future.

Right off our living room is a second, smaller room that used to serve as our reading area. An antique bar cart (a gift from my grandmother) would sit in the corner, stocked with assorted liquor and glasses. My husband and I often referred to that space as our “adult room.” We’d sip cocktails, read, talk, or sit on our laptops planning various trips and outings.

My house wasn’t spotless per se, but it was always neat and reasonably clean. Mail was filed away daily, and the only things allowed on my kitchen counter were the knife blocks and appliances I used regularly to cook elaborate meals.

Fast forward a few years, and we now have an active 5-year-old son and adorably rambunctious 2-year-old twin daughters.

My living room looks like a ransacked toy store warehouse. Blocks are everywhere, no matter the hour.

Over in the kitchen, my countertops are loaded with half-empty cereal boxes (who says three varieties are enough?), assorted crackers (a staple for my children), and kid-friendly water bottles and cups, each with its own set of multiple parts that never quite seem to fully dry from one day to the next. In the corner of my counter is a post-it with my must-do tasks of the day, along with a pen, a backup pen, and assorted hair accessories that magically manage to collect in the same central spot when my daughters decide they’ve had enough wearing them.

My dining room table, meanwhile, is loaded with Amazon boxes and shredded packing tape remnants. The kids’ shoes are piled up on the floor under the table. Art projects adorn the breakfront, while the mail, which now gets sorted every four days on a good week, is lost in a pile of construction paper. The table itself hasn’t been used in months.

The space that was once our lovely reading room is now a play area for the kids. The back wall has a vertical racetrack mounted on it, while the corner that used to house our bar cart is now a shelving unit stuffed with puzzles, trucks, dolls, and random birthday party goody bag favors I’ve failed to confiscate.

The once-welcoming guest bedroom has morphed into a laundry-staging area. The pretty bedspread is covered with pants, t-shirts, and pajamas, while the rest of my kids’ wardrobe hangs in pieces on drying racks thanks to my insane fear of shrinking things in the dryer.

The kids’ rooms now look like… well, kids’ rooms, my son’s being the much neater of the two. The girls’ room is cluttered with books and stuffed animals they’ve pulled off their dresser, and clothing they took it upon themselves to remove from its drawers.

In between is a Jack and Jill style bathroom whose countertops are loaded with ointment creams, brushes, combs, medications, and random hats and sunglasses. Looking back, we were definitely smart not to upgrade those countertops to granite. The mirror is perpetually streaked, while the sink is littered with hardened toothpaste particles rinsed and gone astray.

Our once-quiet house is now anything but. Sometimes it gets so loud I can barely hear the booming doorbell, which, nine times out of 10, serves the sole purpose of alerting me that our latest Amazon diaper shipment has arrived.

Though I sweep and vacuum constantly, my floors are never devoid of crumbs.

It’s nowhere close to being neat and orderly, and nothing like I once imagined.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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