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This Is Not a Post About a Life-Disrupting Virus…And It’s Not About a Couch

We bought a couch!

What an exciting event in an adult’s life, right?  When you think about it, for most families, this only happens a few times. I can still remember the gold couch my parents passed down to me in college. Later when I rented my first studio apartment, my first purchase was a ‘deluxe’ futon. Buying a couch is a special event because we can all bond over having our fair share of hand-me-down couches and convertible sofas.

Buying a couch, in a style and colors that you choose, says something to the world. It says, I have a job! It says, I am ready for company and cozy evenings! It says, I am graduating to another level in adulthood! Why can’t adults have milestones, too?

But this is not a post about a couch. It’s about a family, who in a very simple and complex way, got lost. We drifted from our couch. Being busy became the new norm, we hit bottom, and we had to find our way back to the couch.

Let me take you back to the Fall, loooonnnng before we knew anything about a life-disrupting virus.

Our family is comprised of 2 parents with fulfilling careers, 2 school aged active children, and 1 very large lap dog named Rufus.

We work hard and play hard. We love funny TV shows, family movie nights, and sharing sections of the Tribune on lazy Sunday mornings. 

We also love to be active. All four of us play sports and produce way more laundry than necessary. When our kids were smaller, my husband and I had been very careful not to overextend ourselves. Up until recently, we had been very good about setting boundaries and only signing the kids up for 1-2 activities. We used to have the kind of balance that all of those parenting articles suggest.

Without much warning, our little darlings started having opinions and interests outside of our parameters. None of the parenting books tell you what to do when your child says their interested in everything!

I don’t have to tell you that we were weak and we allowed them to sign up for an embarrassing number of activities each last Fall. The park district staff all recognize me. I’m the one with the purse full of snacks. I’m the one on her laptop trying to send more one email while they swim and skate their laps. I’m the one hustling in the lobby for carpool deals. We were busy every night of the week and most weekends. We stopped watching TV; we rarely had time for family movie night, and we watched the Sunday Tribune form a pile in the corner of the dining room. In early November, we hit our breaking point. We became burned out. It wasn’t fun anymore. My son said, ‘Do we really have to go tonight? I just need a break.’ So we made a pact – we would finish Fall, and take back downtime. Take back couch time.

We only had one problem. Our couch was terrible. 

Let me explain.  

Have you ever had a beater car? A car that only exists to bring you from Point A to Point B? A car that isn’t really your style because you just need it to function?

Well a close friend gave us some advice before we had kids. He pulled us in close and said, ‘You don’t need a beater car, you need a beater couch.’ And boy was he right!

A couch that could withstand the daily abuse of 2 overtired parents, 2 small kids, and 1 large lap dog. A couch that isn’t really your style but you just need it to function? 

Needless to say, we took his advice and 11 years later, our couch really deserved retirement. It wasn’t even comfortable anymore. You would sit on it and your whole body became angry. My husband refused to use it and Rufus chose the floor.

It was time for a new couch. 

We discussed layouts and colors. We made critical decisions like: how big is too big and is surround sound really important? [sidenote: yes, apparently, it is].

We decided to try for a Black Friday deal. We asked the grandparents to babysit and my husband and I mapped out a list of stores, coupons in hand. We had a plan. We were going to get a new couch.

After shopping at the stores and sitting on all of the couches, we found one! It’s a beautiful, long gray couch with chaise at one end. I don’t have to tell you that we fell in love with the most expensive couch we tried at the only store that wasn’t offering a black Friday deal. We chose quality and comfort over getting a good price. We explained to the kids that instead of a family vacation this year, we would enjoy year-round comfort away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. I’m not sure they’re convinced. [sidenote: until recently]

Winter break was amazing. All of our activities halted, except for ice hockey because that rink never closes [exception: life-disrupting viruses]. We lounged. We napped. We snuggled. We watched movies and played video games and made memories. Don’t get me wrong – there were plenty of fights, especially over who gets the chaise, but for the first time in a long time, we relaxed. Even Rufus joined us.

Buying a couch made me think about parenting and the privilege to sign up for multiple activities. Buying a couch reminded me of how lucky we are to have 2 healthy kids who want to be off the couch. Buying a couch made me incredibly thankful that our savings didn’t need to go towards a new furnace or appliances. Buying a couch made me question, Who are we kidding? We may fall into the same busy trap. After all, we want our kids to be involved. To fall in love with an activity or an art. We want to be active adults, too. I surmise that when we hit our breaking point again, at least we’ll have a comfy place to land. [sidenote: or when we encounter life-disrupting viruses].

This is not a post about a couch. It’s about a family who got lost and found their way back to their couch.    Well, at least until next Fall.

Brooke Griffin

Be.superheroic@gmail.com