The late Erma Bombeck once wrote that if she had her life to live over again she would sit on her “good sofa” and eat popcorn.
That such an accomplished woman would list such a seemingly mundane regret alongside “laugh more, cry less” and “tell the people in my life that I love them daily” is striking to me. It speaks of missed opportunities, regretted priorities, and longing for the life that might have been.
For me, that longing first struck when I caught myself beseeching my children to stop piling all the sofa cushions onto the floor to make a fort. Despite their giggles and joyful faces, I vetoed the entire project.
“No bouncing, no eating, no jumping, no piling – don’t even LOOK at the sofa!” I screeched.
Let Ivana Trump’s children eat cheese sandwiches on her sofa; I was saving mine for a special occasion. For the first time in my adult life I had a matched living room suite and I was willing to scar my offspring for life with my bellowing to protect it.
On second thought. That night, having vanquished the urges that drove my children to want to wax creative with my home furnishings, I pondered my priorities – or lack thereof.
What goes through a person’s mind when she tells her toddler that somehow the sofa is more important than he is? Isn’t my child at least as “good” and his creativity as worthy of protection as a hunk of cotton batting and poly-blend in my living room?
I realized with a start that I have spent far too much time and energy protecting my furnishings from my family. Cautioning everyone from my husband to the dog not to touch, smear, sully, or wear out anything in our home, I had my family on full-alert that actually using our possessions was not really allowed. How had I turned into this woman who valued her upholstery and knickknacks over her family’s comfort and creativity?
Eat off good china. I vowed that, unlike Erma, I wouldn’t wait until the end of my life to make a change in my priorities. That I will put my family’s comfort and happiness ahead of preserving our possessions in pristine perfection. In short, that we will sit on the sofa and eat popcorn if it pleases us. That we will use the real silver, the good china, my grandmother’s rocker, and the nicest quilts. Our family is worth the “good stuff.”
We are not materially wealthy. When this sofa is beaten down, and I know it will be, I will not necessarily be able to plunk down the funds for a new one without effort. I will save long and hard and someday another “good” sofa might come along. I will probably have grandchildren sitting upon it by then.
If and when that day arrives, I plan to break out the popcorn, toss all the cushions onto the floor, and get down to the business of living. Because you’ll find that when it comes down to choices, it’s your sofa or your life.
I intend to choose my life.