I Have a Toddler, a Baby & a White Living Room & Other Moms Think I'm Crazy

My family and I recently moved into our first house in a suburb of New York City. About 45 seconds after the moving men dropped off our last box, I made a startling discovery: My husband didn't think much of my bold design plans for our living room. I should add: the living room is one we share with a 3-year-old daughter and 5-month-old son. Our conversation about it went something like this:

Him: "White?! As in, white walls?"

Me: "White. As in white everything."

Him: "Yeah, okay. Right." (har, har?)

Me:  "So, I think the love seat will look good by the window --"

Him: "You mean the white love seat. The one you bought even though we have a toddler who picks up spaghetti strands with her fingers and makes them talk to each other."

Me: "It's more of an ivory than a snow white."

Him: "Well, that'll make all the difference when we're replacing the couch in three months."


I know people with and without kids who visit my home, see my infant spitting up apple sauce every 10 seconds, notice that my 3-year-old is still wearing a pull-up, glance at my white room, and conclude that I've lost my damn mind. I'm sure some of them are thinking, oh man, you've got some nerve there, and are secretly praying for the day when my white living room goes up in a series of giant, jumping flames caused by purple markers, glitter paint, and Bolognese sauce.

Other visitors, mainly moms, have called me "brave," as if I've agreed to jump out of an airplane to raise money for cancer research instead of choosing to furnish my home in a hue that isn't beige or brown.

Yes, it's mostly white and ivory. Ivory couches. Ivory ottoman. White walls and blinds. Accents of blue and yellow. And a big, ole rug that is more blue than white -- you can credit my husband for winning that battle:

And one more shot for good measure -- notice the pompous art that is trying hard not to look like art:

The most common question I get is: "You don't have a television in your living room? Wow. Why?" Or, more commonly, "Wow. Why the hell not?"

When I explain that, no, I'm not emotionally or spiritually opposed to the idea of TV and that we have one down in the den that I let my toddler use during the three hours of the day when she isn't chained to her table reviewing her flash cards (kidding!), the reply is usually, "How do you manage to keep their toys out of this room?" OR "I could never do this. My kid's sippy cup would drip all over the place."

There are two truths here. The first: It has been really easy so far to keep my "museum room," as my husband calls it, my perfect white oasis. I don't believe that, just because you have children, everything in your home automatically belongs to them. I've taught my daughter that there are certain places where she is welcome to make a mess -- her play room, mainly -- but that, no, she isn't allowed to pull off her bed sheets after I've made the bed. And, no, her food shouldn't be eaten anywhere but on the kitchen table. Most of us wouldn't bring a bowl of soup into the bathroom with us -- why should a living room be any different?

I think it's totally possible to keep a chunk of our adult lives alive and well even after we have children, and a big part of that is accomplished by creating a room or rooms in our home that remain free of children's clutter and appeal to our senses.

That said, there's a second, more humiliating truth I must admit: A part of me always wonders where my kids' butts have been prior to them propping themselves up on our couch. Also, I desperately want to put my feet up and drink red wine in my white oasis, and I do it -- but reluctantly.

I'm not 100 percent a fool (maybe 90 percent one?) because Momma did not spend a fortune on this furniture. If my precious, innocent baby boy grows up into the wild animal every parent warns me little boys turn into and spills his worm and dirt collection on my pristine couch, I will shed a tear, but it won't bankrupt us.

And, of course, if you're going to take a chance on white or ivory furniture, investing in a stain guard protection plan is a must. I'm not saying my children won't always listen to me and respect the psychotic rules of hanging out in their mother's shrine -- the rules that they'll surely be speaking to a therapist about in 20 years -- but if they should spill some tomato sauce on the upholstery, no biggie: Stain guard ensures the piece will be replaced.

Unless, I guess, it's discontinued? I'll consider that the perfect excuse to live out my fantasy of having a powder-pink living room modeled after Katy Perry's California Gurls video.

Is there a room in your house that you consider "yours?" What does it look like?


Images © iStock.com/PeopleImages and via Lisa Fogarty

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