Every time I clean our dining room table I see these:
If you can’t tell what those are, they are marker stains and a nice, big blueberry stain.
When the initial stains first happened, I was upset. This table, after all, was given to us by a family member, and when we received the table, it was in excellent condition. As hard as I’ve tried to keep this table in tip-top condition, life has overtaken my efforts.
But today, as I was washing the table off, I realized I’m grateful for these stains. You see, my family has enjoyed many meals around this little table. We’ve passed food to each other, giggled with each other, even yelled at each other. I’ve sat at one end of this table teaching a science lesson, with my children filling the other seats, while they looked on in amazement at an erupting volcano. I’ve watched as one of them grasped a math concept, smile filling his face as he finally understood the concept behind multiplication. My kids have painted pictures, made me homemade cards for my birthday, and written letters to the children they help sponsor through Compassion International and World Vision on this table. On this table, I have served foods that my kids devoured, and foods that they turned their noses up to. At this table, I have had a romantic candlelight dinner with Superman while our kids slept in their rooms. We’ve played many rounds of the card game “Hand and Foot,” making memories with grandparents and great-grandparents. I’ve sat at this table and played Sorry and Cribbage and suffered through endless hours of Monopoly.
This table is filled with memories. Each mark, each dent, each scratch is a little piece of the past I get to hold on to. There is a section in the middle of the table with scars from candle wax. One year, it was our son’s birthday, and while blowing out the candles, the wax went flying onto the table and forever marked the wood. I’m sure I could sand it and refinish it, but it feels as though those little scars are like a constant reminder that these days are fleeting. It seems like just a few weeks ago that wax made its mark, but it’s been nearly 5 years.
It’s like our dining room table has its own version of stretch marks. Carrying 5 children has definitely left permanent discoloration and “flaws” on my little table, but I look at those flaws and think: I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A well-worn table is the sign of a full life, in my opinion. Memories are ingrained into the fibers of wood, silently singing nostalgic songs of fun, food and family.
This table. It’s not pretty. It’s definitely tired and worn. But every time I look at it, I see little children gleefully surrounding it, whether they are really there or not.
I am going to enjoy my table’s “stretch marks” for as long as I can. Each day with my kids is another day to make memories around this table. And instead of getting upset when a new “stretch mark” is added, I will remind myself: my time with my children is vanishing rapidly. Before I know it, there will be no new scars being added to my table, and I will long for the day when I had a house filled with bustling children, leaving their silent memories on my table.