Ryan and I were one of those typical childless couples who would roll our eyes at the "breeders" and smugly discuss how if we had children, we'd do things the correct way. Granted, there are plenty of people who aren't jerks like we were, but, well, we were.
Among topics such as sleep training, discipline, and feeding, the subject of "stuff" would often come up. We would never be one of those families who filled their homes with all that unnecessary stuff. We thought that babies needed diapers, wipes, a few sleepers (they certainly don't need real clothes), a nuk or two, bottles, food, soap, somewhere to sleep, and a blanket. Maybe a rattle or book or something visually stimulating. Anything more than that was ridiculous and useless.
And then we had Norah. And then we hit Target. Aside from the gobs of stuff obtained from the baby shower and random gifts, we began to load our little house to the brim with everything imaginable. Our precious little angel couldn't possible live without a bouncer, swing, Bumbo, mobile, exersaucer, gym (playmat thing), a zillion dangling colorful rattles and toys, five million outfits, onesies, pants, sleepers, body suits, mittens, hats, contour wedge thing, a library of books, changing pads, glider, pack n play, and on and on and on. Our house constantly looked (and still looks) like a Babies R Us the day after Thanksgiving; packed with disheveled baby merchandise.
And I could barely even see the disaster around me. You're working, you're taking care of the kiddo, you're cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, trying desperately to catch some of The Office if it's new, bathing, playing, reading Hippos Go Berserk over and over, and occasionally trying to fit in a five-second conversation with the husband, and you don't even notice what's happened until it's 4 am and a stupidly smiling plastic skunk's pointy face is lodged in the arch of your foot.
Then you have a moment of clarity. You look around and see the horror around you. You don't know whether you want to just give up and cry, or start kicking little stuffed horses and bears in the face, chucking rubber penguins across the room, and start scooping up everything you see to put it out for the trash.
I have always chosen the former, and then try to ignore the pain in the foot and remember the joyous shrieks of laughter when Norah knocks over a tower of blocks or puts a toy whale in the oven of her kitchen. One day all the toys will be gone. All the diaper station materials. All the tiny socks, bottles, sippy cups, plastic kitchen food, picture books, and Cheerios. And that's more sad than a cluttered house.