When my husband and I bought our house several years ago, I had
big plans for the bedroom on the first floor. I wanted to convert
it into the library of my English-major dreams, with wrap-around
bookcases and a rolling ladder. I planned to organize and
cross-reference all of my beloved books in such a perfect and
precise manner that Melvil Dewey himself could not find fault. All
of my literature would finally be gathered in one place, like a
Donny Osmond Family Christmas Special.
This exact room had once served as the master bedroom for the
previous owners. They raised 10 children together, so we joking
referred to their bedroom as "the fertility clinic." Our wisecrack
took on new meaning when several of our friends, struggling to
conceive, asked to "use" what was our makeshift library.
Not being particularly prudish, we gladly obliged their requests
and let's just say the number of kids who can trace their lineage
back to our library grows yearly.
Sadly, my fantasies of Dewey and mahogany bookcases have stalled
for six long years. Instead of a beacon of order and learning, the
library currently serves as the staging area of our lives.
Christmas presents, book bags, miscellaneous furniture and dying
plants all lay claim to my over-populated and misused dream.
On a dreary afternoon this week, I received an email from my
sister-in-law, who recommended the only carpenter in the entire
country known to answer his phone. He also had a reputation for
being very affordable. I needed something to lift me out of my dour
mood, so I thought it might be fun to pretend I was
actually going to have that library. I tentatively dialed the
number. Before I could change my mind, an Irish brogue answered.
Within three minutes, he was at my door with a tape measure.
Apparently, he had been lunching just up the street.
Upon entering my home, the carpenter tripped over a pair of kid
boots and then accidentally knocked over an army of children's
coats from a kitchen chair. Our front hall closet is the size of a
shoebox, and we have never been able to smoosh everybody's stuff
inside. I sheepishly counted seven pairs of shoes strewn about the
room in addition to countless gloves, hats, and sporting gear.
As we headed into the library, a volcanic eruption of orders
started pouring from my mouth, and I barely knew what I was saying.
I wanted some shelves, alright. But I also needed some hooks and
some cubbies. I started going crazy with my demands:
Oh! And how about some shelves for the kids' hockey, bike,
and baseball helmets! Some benches? How about some benches that
store shoes? Lots of shoes! And think man-sized shoes because my
boys are going to have like size 15 clodhoppers according to the
pediatrician. They're going to be able to put out forest fires with
their feet. Can we also have some nooks and crannies for all the
mittens and gloves and scarves, too? This is going to be
After carefully measuring and taking notes, the carpenter told
me he'd provide a cost estimate and some preliminary drawings
within the next day or two.
I thanked him profusely, and as he walked out, he turned and
I'm really looking forward to building ye a grand
Wha? No….I wanted a library. Not a mudroom. He
Sorry, ma'am. 'Tis what I meant…a fine
He had that mischievous twinkle in his eye, as though I was not
the first case of Mudroom Fever he had witnessed. It dawned on me
then: if I ever was to get my library, I was going to have to get a
job at Newberry.
I unwittingly transformed my perfect room into something
resembling a schoolhouse cloakroom, but I am okay with that. All
this time, I hoped that a symbol of learning and literature would
define my house. That was dumb. The three little boys who nearly
miss the bus every day because we can't find matching boots are who
define my house and my life. Gladly.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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