Recently I found this draft I wrote three years ago:
I was snuggled with my littlest, before bedtime, when I noticed something odd. Her bedroom is–by far–the smallest bedroom in the house. It’s also the most awkward to furnish, because in addition to being small (it’s something like 9’x10′), one wall holds three doors: the door into the room and a double-door on the closet. But as I sat and rocked the baby, I realized that her room felt spacious. Maybe not as roomy as her sister’s (whose room is ridiculously large), but it felt open and clear.
That’s because, of course, she isn’t even a year old yet and doesn’t have any “stuff.”
Don’t get me wrong, that closet is quite full of clothes waiting to be grown into; almost the entire top shelf is devoted to 12-18 month clothing that she’s creeping towards daily. She has “stuff.” But wow…all her room has in it is a crib, a changing table (with baskets for the clothes she’s currently wearing), a rocking chair and a small side table. That’s it. It’s absolutely refreshing.
I wish my other kids–especially my son–would “get it.” That even a room that tiny can feel large if it’s not crammed with stuff. My oldest often complains about how small his room is, when in reality it’s not bad; it’s just full. He’s also the poster-boy for posters; when we moved here we devoted one wall to all his artwork, arranged carefully all together. Now he’s old enough to get the thumbtacks for himself and his room is becoming a fire hazard. I keep trying to explain to him that his room isn’t small, it’s crowded. I think it might have started sinking in when family began to ask him what he wanted for his birthday and he said he didn’t want any more Legos because he didn’t know where he would put them. That’s a pretty big step for my little Lego fiend.
The problem is that everything is held in comparison to middle girl’s room, which is HUGE. It’s the one at the veeeery end of the hall, over the garage, and it’s almost as big as the garage. (The square footage of her bedroom is actually bigger than the master bedroom; it’s 12’x18′.) Her space veers back and forth between completely trashed and amazingly clean; the older she gets the more into decorating she is and the more “fixy” she is about her space. To her credit, her large room usually feels large because she’s kept it fairly picked up.
I’m sure that someday, as the baby gets older, she’ll probably want a room as big as her sister’s, too. I’ll take the smaller space any day. Especially one as clean and simple as the nursery is now. In a few years, little one will start accumulating stuff and putting her own mark on everything, the way her siblings have. I hope she learns to appreciate the beauty of less.
So here we are, three years later. The room is actually much the same, though we moved in a chest-of-drawers to replace the outgrown changing table. We also moved the side table out, and a small “crib” in, to hold her stuffed animals. (I would say it was a doll bed, but it was actually built by my great-grandfather for my mother when she was born.) The closet has even been cleared out, and all her “to grow into” clothing (now size 6 to 10, the best of the best from older sister) is hanging up instead of piled on the upper shelf.
The only part of her room that gets regularly out-of-hand is her bed, since she wants ALL her stuffed animals in bed with her. Oh, and her library books. And sometimes a box of Kleenex. (You get the idea.) Sometimes when I tuck her in at night I tease her about where she’s going to fit, and she will cheerfully inform me, “It’s okay, Mama! There’s a spot right here!” And sure enough, there’s just enough space for her little head to lay on her pillow.
My son has come a long way, too. Apparently around age ten or eleven there’s a seismic shift in attitude about stuff, and things that once were overwhelmingly sentimental now just seem babyish. (I’m seeing it happen with my eleven-year-old daughter now.) His room looks consistently better, with the occasional “wow, I have too many books” issue.
Interesting what three years can do.