I got into a fight with a slipcover on Labor Day, and beat it all the slipcover won. I had a short “to-do” list with minimal expectations on getting much done. We did schoolwork in the morning, ran a quick errand, ate lunch, and stayed in the rest of the day so that I could attempt to take care of aforementioned list with covering my old, beat up red, reclining chair at the top of the list.
Let me tell you about this chair.
It was one of the first pieces of furniture that I owned. It was my cat Minksy’s (may God rest her crazy kitty soul) favorite spot to nestle in for naps. It has been spilled upon, wrestled on, jumped from, slept on, scratched on (mean Minksy), and all around well-lived on. The husband, kids, cat, friends, Cheerwine, crumbs, washable (not!) markers, coffee stains, and shoe scuffs have left their mark. And now it was time to cover it all with a “sure-fit” slipcover.
Thirty minutes, three attempts, and one long, blazing hot flash later I came to discover that I actually purchased a “surely NOT fit” slipcover. Major false advertising. It basically looked like one of my husband’s drop cloths that he uses while painting that somehow ends up in our bedroom for days on end. Ask him how I feel about this.
Oh the let down! How earnest I was to conceal this dreadful chair! It is a recliner, so upholstering it would be a whole thing, and we might as well just get a new chair when it is all said and done. And the reclining part is what makes covering it so cumbersome, anyway. If I could just cover the mess then we could start fresh, right?! And any new messes can be magically washed in our top load washer and back on the chair goes the slip cover for another fresh start. Problem solved!
I sat on my couch for about 3 minutes contemplating what on earth I was going to do now about this down right embarrassing chair, staring at it like it was my arch enemy or something. Cue the melodrama.
And cue the life lesson.
What was I really trying to cover? Anyone who knows me and my family will tell you that we do not lead quiet, sweet lives of ease. It gets loud and fast under our roof sometimes, and the scuff marks on baseboards and wall corners prove this. Sure, we are working on boundaries and manners, but this is a hard work in progress, folks. I see it as, “Well, there may be a little paint chipped off of the living room wall, but at least none of the glass from the front door is broken.” It’s all about perspective, and setting the bar low, like reeeal low.
Why the shame in not covering the marks of a life so far well-lived? I bought Big Red (I just named the chair…it suits “her.”) when I got my first “real” job as a teacher. I was single, I had a little money in the bank, and an immaculately clean apartment in Miami. I graded papers on her, napped on her, watched late night T.V. on her, and ate take-out Chinese on her. Friends sat on her, my cat slept on her, and my laptop, books, purse, and other miscellaneous items were sometimes dumped on her.
I met a guy. I loved him and he loved me and “we” just made sense. He asked me to marry him and I said “YES!” and he loaded up Big Red and all of my other things into a UHAUL one day in December to New Orleans where we would begin our married adventure together. Big Red eventually became a place for my husband to rest, work on his laptop, study for sermons, and kick back for lazy Sunday afternoon naps. I nursed each of my babies on her, read books to them on her, held each of them for newborn naps, and let them ride the little horsey about a thousand times on her. I am pretty sure that enchilada sauce, Cheerwine, and milk have been spilled on her. People have been prayed over on her. Everyone from our life group community have each sat on her at some point. About a million antibacterial wipes, twenty cans of Febreeze, and a box of baking soda have all been smeared, sprayed, and sprinkled on her. Ten years, a cat, a husband, three kids, and countless friends have given Big Red the wear and tear that she deserves.
There are many things I would trade for a beat up, old, red recliner, but not the people and all the love and all the prayers. Not any of that. That’s the REAL stuff. There is a story to tell with every scar, every wrinkle, and every stain. I am going to let Big Red continue to tell her story. There is no shame in living if it is a life well-lived.