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The Magic Couch

The couch in my mother’s living room is about eight years old now. She bought it when we first moved into Clark Fork. It was a brand new house she was moving into and she’d decided that, for the first time in her life, she was going to have a brand new couch. I remember driving her down to the Montgomery Ward in Coeur d’Alene, where she had a credit card she could pay for it with, and I remember the smile on her face when she finally decided which couch in the store was going to be moved into her new home. What I don’t remember is realizing that she was buying a magic couch.

The cats sharpened their claws on the sides of the new couch, and undoubtedly had it shredded long before she paid it off. My children, all three of them, spilled their share of kool-aide and juice on it and then my grandson came along to add his spills and messes to its burgundy pattern. My mother didn’t have a new couch for long – what she ended up with was a couch like all those I remember in all the houses we lived in when I was growing up – one that is well-used. And one that just happens to be magic.

When I go over to my mother’s house, which I do often as she lives right next door, and I sit on her couch, I go to sleep. Within minutes. I wish I could patent it, and sell it to those who suffer from insomnia, because five minutes on that simple piece of furniture and I’m snoozing like a baby. It happens quickly, too. First my body becomes entirely warm, and within seconds of that, I’m snoring. It’s so predictible that now, when I want to stay awake, I sit on a chair and keep my distance from her inanimate sandman.

I’ve thought about it a lot, and decided the magic isn’t really inside a bit of fabric, wood and stuffing, but lies totally within the location – this is my mother’s couch and, as such, is the safest and most comfortable place in the world.

I’m a mother myself now, and I wonder sometimes whether I’m going to be able to create magic couches for my own children at some point in their lives. This mothering thing is a pretty tough job, and it’s the one area where I find I am always questioning myself. And it’s the one area where I am always afraid I’m failing.

I remember when I was pregnant with Dustin, my second child. About seven or eight months into the pregnancy, I went into my daughter Misty’s room to watch her sleep. She was five years old, and I can still see the Holly Hobbie curtains on the windows, and the Strawberry Shortcake blanket she was snuggled underneath. I watched her sleep and I cried – I was already unsure as to whether I could be a good enough mother for her, and now I was adding another child to my parenting task.

There are no answer books to tell us how to create magic couches for our children. I know, because I’ve looked for them for almost 21 years. There are parenting books galore, of course, but none that have ever looked at a single, specific situation I’ve found myself in with my children, and given me a clear answer as to what I should do. I tell Misty sometimes that she was my experimental child – at least with the two that followed her, I had a little bit of experience to fall back on.

Not that it’s helped a lot. If there’s ever a time in my life when I’m pretty sure I’ve done the wrong thing, it’s in the one job that means more to me than any other – parenting my children. Luckily, they seem to be turning out well in spite of that, and most days I say a quick prayer of thanks that God gave me the kids I’ve got.

That’s a long way, however, from providing a magic couch. There are times, however, when I see glimpses of it. Those are the times when Amy tells me I’m the best mother in the world, because I know everything the cats are saying. Or the times when Dustin, at 14, gives me an unexpected hug and tells me he loves me. And they’re especially the times when Misty, a grown woman now, calls me on the phone to tell me about her day and lets me know I’m still an important part of her life even if that life doesn’t revolve around me anymore.

There might just come a day when my children come over to my house from whatever place they then call home, sit down on my couch, and fall asleep. Maybe they’ll even laugh about my magic couch. And if they do, then I’ll say another little prayer of thanks, and watch as they begin to create magic couches for their own children.

 

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Landon Otis

Tagged as:

Family, parenting, Mom

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