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What are You Choosing? (A Mom’s Decorating Manifesto)

If you had the money, what’s the first thing you’d buy yourself? Is there a gorgeous piece of furniture or a new set of wheels you’ve been eyeing up? Would you tour the world or buy a new house? Quit your job and sail off into the sunset?

I don’t know how I’d choose just one. (Hopefully I win the lottery so I don’t need to.) It’d be tough picking between new dining room chairs, a dream vacation, or a year of catered meals, to name a few.

Dreaming aside, I know these delights won’t show up in my life anytime soon. And I can tell you why. Okay, you guessed it – I can’t afford it. True, but I’m choosing not to – at least in a way.

That’s right. I’m choosing it.

Now, for example, I’d love all the latest in interior design. It seems harsh to say I’m opting for mismatched furniture and outdated decor instead but that’s what I’m doing. 

How does that even make sense? Well, oddly enough, I had an aha moment while listening to Shauna Niequist tell of her decision to choose family over corporate success in her book Present Over Perfect. See, I’m kind of choosing the same thing.

To begin with, I’m a stay-at-home mom not a work-away-from-home mom. One thing this means is I can’t compare our home and lifestyle with those who have two incomes (surprise!). Of course, I don’t expect my home to reach millionnaire-quality opulence without a millionnaire income. I do, however, occasionally expect my home to be more up-to-date and more handsomely decorated than it is. I’ve been frustrated when my bank account doesn’t support my so-called design necessities. Truth is, if I saw my ‘crippled’ design style – this saying no to the latest interior decor must-haves – for what it is, I’d be a more grateful person. 

When our daughter was born, Kev and I had a choice: I could stay home with our child and adjust our lifestyle accordingly or we’d have two incomes and all that goes with it. We never put it in so many words; it wasn’t necessary because we both knew what the other would choose. Although we were too young to understand all the implications of our choice, I’m so grateful we made the decision we did. I could’ve studied my way to a university degree, found a job, worked part-time. Kev could have chosen another line of work, more education, longer hours, better pay.

Turns out we chose our marriage and our family instead. It means we strive to put family ahead of trendy furniture and grandiose vacations. We make do in some areas so we can go all out in others – especially parenting. It’s not a guarantee that we’ll get it right but it allows us to better focus on our goals.  (Of course I’m not saying if you work away from home, have up-to-date decor or enjoy leisurely holidays, you’re not choosing family. I speak for myself personally. You have your own individual budgets, priorities and choices.) Our work may increase or change as our children grow but this is where we’re at today.

From this perspective, it’s easy to see why many of my decor ideals are not fully met. A vision for the future comes into clearer focus too, while contentment blooms amid outdated decor. 

A Mom’s Decorating Manifesto

– For today, I’ve chosen leisurely story times and cuddles on the couch with my children instead of new dining room chairs. 
– I’m choosing peace in my heart over perfect decor.
– I’m choosing home cooked meals over exotic vacations.
– Some days I choose quiet, boring hours at home to provide shelter and security for us all despite my craving for adventure and excitement.
– Sometimes I choose lived-in and used over sparkly and new so we can splurge on quality time as a family.
– I dream of beauty and perfection but because joy and contentment are also my goals, I’m learning to relax my ideals, call it good enough and find charm in less-than-perfect.
– My home might not be much to look at from a designer’s viewpoint but it holds gems no millionaire can buy and for that I am most grateful.

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