While Jason wrangles a squealing, squiggly Kaia on his shoulders, I meander the crowded showroom in a contented stupor wearing Indi in my Moby wrap. Only chocolate, a birth, or a great night in bed gives me this glazed over, heart-humming, pulse pumping sensation.
And four banana yellow, capitalized letters:
It is bliss to skim my fingers over the mod-patterned fabrics, imagining a day in which they wouldn’t be covered in dog hair, breastmilk, or crumbled pieces of cheese. I don’t mind the phantom images that flash in my retinas after staring into the brightness of the urban, sculptural, oh-so-funky light fixtures. Repeatedly opening and closing the smooth-sliding drawers of my favorite furniture is akin to a meditation chant. Not any ol’ chant, you see. A meditation chant. Because it zens me out and all.
I wish I could package the sexy aroma of IKEA; woodsy cardboard infused with a bit of starched cotton and…swedish meatballs? Indeed, the kind of smell that beckons: “With two hours, an allen wrench, and hundreds of bolts and screws, you too could own a piece of modern furniture”
I want my home to look like the spaces contained within the slick pages of an IKEA catalog; nary a toy visible on the pristine bamboo floors, accessories placed just so, undergarments organized in plexiglass drawer dividers, an office space you can breathe in, and kitchen countertops as smooth and shiny as a glacier; so clean you could lick ‘em. I’m pretty sure there are no dirty diapers strewn about the rooms, offering a visual “chronological order of time”.
I go to IKEA to dream, to touch walls full of organized drawers and cubbies, to lounge on the multi-functional leather sofas draped with unstained, non-raveling blankets. I grab the stainless handles of the deep espresso kitchen cabinets and lean into the space as if I belong, pretending I’d actually cook if my house included such a place. I imagine my platform bed made up fastidiously and covered in bold, tassel-less pillows. Then I imagine sleeping in it alone, uninterrupted for hours and hours. I go there to remind myself what a wonderful world this is to offer affordable modern furniture to the masses , (i.e. cool, cheap furniture that I won’t feel guilty about my kids tearing up). I seriously wish they would rent out IKEA like a vacation home. One could wander each of the mock-rooms all weekend, getting a different feel in each one… lazing on the furniture, arranging underwear in the drawers, admiring the view behind the groovy, silk-screened panels. Eating the Big Swede breakfast.
But I fool no one, especially myself. My home strives honorably but ultimately I own up to it: my home is the antI-KEA.
It will never be as meticulous, as organized, as contrastly coordinated and new-smelling as the modular rooms at IKEA. My walls will always function as the art easels in which crayons, yogurt, and juice are creatively splattered. There will always be blueberry handprints on the sofa pillows. I will always feel lucky when I find an open clean surface on my countertop in which I can squish down a piece of bread and slather some peanut butter on.
Hours later, I will casually notice how the peanut butter jar lid mocks me, still loitering on the counters. And then I’ll catch the open bag of bread laughing in jest with his crooked plastic smile. I will want to cap the jar to stifle the mocking and twist tie the laughing mouth in frustration.
But I won’t. Because I am that lazy.
And then I’m pulled back to the happiness-sphere that is IKEA when I hear Kaia wailing that kind of wail. She was riding in the front of the cart when the plastic tabs on the seat broke and sent her crashing backwards into the wire metal of the cart. Lucky for us, we had placed a striped kid’s pillow in the cart in the event
we would force her she would choose to take a nap along our journey. And so, her noggin landed on that instead of the metal. Still, the force of the event scared the daylights out of her and her nubby little elbow was pinned momentarily under the now defunct seat, giving her a purple bruise. I sat on a comfy couch with her as close to my baby-bundled body as could, trying to calm her down as passerby’s stared.
Ever the designer, Jason returned the cart, explaining to the employee in a huff that there was a “design flaw” in the carts.
“They felt bad…” he said.
“That’s it? No gift card? No discount?” I asked, hoping that having a tiny, weeping Kaia with him would have garnered more sympathy and thus some monetary award.
“No, they just offered another cart. Another almost-broken one”.
Kaia spent the rest of the time riding in the basket of the cart or atop Jason’s shoulders.
While striding past the baby section, a young man with spiky hair lounges on a sofa in one of the rooms and glances my way. And if you are an avid baby wearer in public, you know this kind of glace. It’s the one that signals they are staring at the tiny alien head growing out of the swath of fabric wrapped around your lumpy postpartum body (okay, MY lumpy postpartum body).
“That’s a cool baby carrier thingy”, he says, flashing a genuine, interested, toothy grin.
I do the obligatory stop, pleasant smile, and “thank you”. But before I can move on to the much-anticipated home organization section, he continues. I know the drill.
“What’s it called?”
“It’s called a Moby wrap”, I say as I pull on the little logo tag in front. And then I notice the cute, blond girl next to him, reclined even further back into the sofa and smiling broadly. Oh, I recognize that kind of smile but can’t place it at that moment.
“Do you have kids?” I ask. And in that instant he points to the girl’s round, pregnant belly. Ah yes, THAT kind of smile, I remember. And I can’t resist a pregnant woman, so I continue.
“Oh, you will love this wrap. And even Dad…” I explain, looking towards the young man with the spiky hair I’d been talking to.
“Dad”, he says pointing to a man with a buzz cut standing close.
“Oh, sorry. And even Dad can wear the Moby”, I say to Mr. Buzz Cut, who gives me a half-smile, half “you’d never catch me in a bright orange mess of fabric” kind of look.
Mr. Spiky Hair and Pregnant Mama continue to seem very interested in the Moby and I happily provide them all the details and love the Moby so much I probably would have demonstrated it had we not been on a “Kaia’s Not Had a Nap” type of schedule.
“Did you ask her if she needed a doula?”, Jason asks.
I pause mid-stride in my flip flops and furrow my brow. Jason waits for my answer.
“Wow. Wow. I should have, huh? I need clients. I totally could have nudged the whole doula thing in that conversation. Daaaaang, I wish I would have.”
I can’t believe he is that resourceful. And I am not.
And then I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror and quickly turn my back to Jason.
“Oh geez, can you shove the top of my Mom-underwear back down into my Mom-shorts?”
He woefully obliges and sighs “I can’t believe I’m stuffing my wife’s underwear down her pants in IKEA”.
And I wonder “What better place TO do such a thing?”
I see Miss Pregnant Mama two more times throughout our IKEA adventure and of course don’t have the guts or audacity to stop her and unleash the benefits of my Mom-underwear wearing doula-dom on her.
But it got me thinking… I’m constantly stopped when wearing Indi in the Moby. Mostly stopped by either older ladies thinking it would be a perfect gift for their <insert relation>, or by young women or mamas. Everyone is always so nice, because of course I have a cute baby strapped to my body also. Inevitably, half of the conversations turn to birth in which half of those conversations end up with the revelation that she was born at home.
And I do need more doula clients. So, here’s what I figured I need to have shamelessly embroidered on the Moby: