The Motherload: The Good-enough Nursery

"Nothing is perfect, baby. This house is a state, but it’s ours. This bedroom is strange, but it’s warm."

motherload mr

I have good hair and great penmanship. I work hard. But I’m no perfectionist.

My kitchen, my car, and my coochie are all testaments to this. So when I got the nesting fever around five months pregnant, my pragmatism clashed with my primal need to lovingly prepare a space for my offspring.

It started six years ago with my son’s bedroom. I wanted it to be nice and unique, but I wanted to spend little and do even less. The storage room that would be his nursery was bright orange. Outstanding, I could work with orange! I threw in a crib, a change table, and a wee shelf for books. And for a personal touch, I hand-painted a Dr. Seuss quote on the wall. Bam, I rule, come on with the tiny human. When people asked me the theme of Max’s nursery, my answer was simply “orange.”

I had the same half-assed ambition for my daughter’s room last fall. Her would-be nursery was white. Wicked shit, who can’t work with white?! But this time, I had a concept. A theme, believe it or not. Not some cookie-cutter bedroom-in-a-bag dealio you buy at the store with kittens or cupcakes from sheets to sheers though. This was a theme far from ordinary and close to my heart: teddy bears. C’mon now, not just any teddy bears. Creepy teddy bears.

It started with a baby blanket made for me by my Fogo Island grandmother, Lucy Godwin. I had always been perplexed by the bears she had sewn onto each square of fabric. No cuddly, smiley teddies here. These bad boys were wonky and deformed, with grimaces instead of grins. How…cute? Nan either had a wonderfully twisted sense of humour or a hilariously desperate hand for crafts. For the record, the 40-year-old blankie, while bizarre as balls, has stood the test of time. (If Zita Cobb wants it for her acclaimed Inn, she’ll need to drop some mad stacks.)

This queer little quilt hanging from the side of the crib in the stark white room, with those beady-eyed, ursine oddballs glaring at me from every angle, became my inspiration. I hung pictures of the bears with saucy headlines like “Move over, Winnie” and “Paddington can bite me.” My friend surprised me with a gnarly toy bear she made, which Rae will squeeze as soon as she learns what hands are for. I slapped on a little wallpaper, moved in the ol’ crib and change table, and presto – bring on the bambino, bitches.

The nursery is good enough – just the way I like it. Maybe it’s even great, because it means something. Something I hope my daughter understands one day when she stops crapping her pants. Nothing is perfect, baby. This house is a state, but it’s ours. This bedroom is strange, but it’s warm. The wallpaper has a couple lumps, but the pretty pattern makes me twirl my housecoat. And these teddy bears are freaky weirdos, but they’re a piece of our story. A story that began in a grandmother’s hands and continues here in ours. We embrace one another’s weirdness, so the world that demands perfection can’t knock out our stuffing.

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  • I remember my mother making this quilt.I really never noticed these teddy bears. ,But I’m sure she made it with love. I’m sure it means more to you than some of that frilly stuff they buy these days. Good job. I love your writing. Keep it up.

  • Vicki Murphy your Motherload: the good enough nursery is the best thing I have read in a hundred years! Fantastic. Thanks~

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