When I was younger, the arrival of a Pottery Barn catalog was like rocket fuel for my domestic fantasies. I would settle down in a chair and flip through the perfectly furnished rooms, where everything had a place, and there was scads of square footage for the ideal nuclear family to spread out. I had neither the perfect space, or the perfect family. But I longed for both.
As years went by, and I grew into myself, and actually had a family, I preferred antiques to the Pottery Barn replicas, but I still longed for the idea that catalog delivered–rooms that were never dirty, where nothing but good, normal things could happen– where Johnny got A’s and Sally volunteered at the local hospital, and the mom baked and did laundry and made beds, and the dad had a job that could afford houses for all the seasons of the Pottery Barn collection to fit inside of. Even the dog never had accidents in the house. It was the fucking Pottery Barn catalog, for God sakes.
Ally leaves for college in 9 days, and today the Pottery Barn catalog arrived. It seemed to taunt me a little bit when I opened its pages. I no longer need the ample spaces, or kick-ass playrooms I used to long for. I am not perusing it with the same eager instinct I have had for the last 25 years, to try and make every room work to its maximum potential. It feels strange not to be thinking about how to perfect my entryway to acommodate the near 20 coats and 30 pairs of shoes we, as a family of four, would have in our seasonal rotation. It’s somewhat strange not to be getting ideas for cool holiday cookies I will make for their classrooms (lest we never forget my gingerbread men and women, which nearly broke my shoulders, or my spider cupcakes, which had me looking for black string licorice in three states).
Instead, I flipped the pages of the catalog with some sadness for how my house never measured up to these stylist-created rooms, how my longing for organization and pottery barn photo shoot perfection always eluded me, and how those two empty kid’s rooms upstairs would now be a reminder of all I failed at as a homemaker and mom.
I held that catalog in my hands.
And then I threw it in the recycle bin. Fuck you, Pottery Barn. Life is messy. And I did my best.