Husband and I drove to Atlanta and back yesterday just to go to Ikea. Atlanta is over 500 miles away from Pensacola and the trip involved about 12 hours in the car. (This only goes to show how bad my geography is, because if someone made a day trip from Pullman to Seattle just to go to Ikea I would have thought they were crazy.) Someone very graciously loaned us a truck and we made it back in one piece with all our new purchases, but the trip can be summed up by the three words in the title: not as planned.
While I love Ikea dearly, I have found from past experience that visits to an actual store can be quite stressful and challenging to one’s relationship with one’s spouse. For one thing, there’s just so much stuff to look at. I mean, how does anyone speed through the showrooms? You can’t take two steps without noticing a coffee table you haven’t seen before, some nice new pillow covers, and oh–how much is that bookshelf? The tendency to meander slowly through the store leads to spending way more time shopping than you had planned, which is just not a good thing if you have to drive six hours afterward. A second big problem is that, while everything is relatively inexpensive, it all adds up quickly (especially if you’re buying furniture). $99 may be a great deal for a desk, but it’s still $99. Add that to some dishes, dish towels, linens, a lamp, boxes, and whatever else found its way into your cart and the total at the cash register may shock you.
This time, however, I approached these problems head-on and decided that we were going to have The Best Ikea Trip Ever. I had a copy of the catalog, so I carefully looked at all the options, measured the walls, placed sticky notes on my final picks, and kept a running total of how much everything was going to cost. The key, I thought, was efficient planning with no room for surprises. I had a mental vision for each room (including the baby’s, of course), and everything was going be perfect.
Until we got to Atlanta and found out that all sorts of things were out of stock.
If you are ever wandering around the furniture pick-up area of an Ikea and see a crying pregnant woman, it’s probably because she just discovered that the perfect crib (which was to be the centerpiece of her elaborately planned nursery) is out of stock. If you see her crying even harder a few minutes later, it’s because that lovely white bookshelf (which was to hold all of baby’s cute little stuffed animals and toys and books and which matched the dresser she just painted) is also gone. This may already be on top of several other minor disappointments (she couldn’t find that desk from the catalog and is wondering if the new one they picked for the living room will look okay; the store is all out of the special boxes she wanted; she’s hoping that the pillow covers she convinced husband to buy aren’t as unnecessary as he thinks they are), all of which primed her to cry over something small anyway. Especially since she woke up before 5 am and gave the baby’s wall another coat of paint before leaving.
Try to have sympathy on this woman as she slowly picks out a different crib and different bookshelf in between sniffles. She is trying very hard to convince her irrational self that this change of plans will not Ruin The Whole Thing. That all the furniture doesn’t have to be white and clean and pretty. That the baby won’t even notice these things for years and her friends won’t doubt her abilities as a mother and decorator when they see her mismatched nursery set.
And finally, if you are an Ikea employee, please do your best to fix the darn frozen yogurt machine so that when this woman stumbles red-eyed to the counter (after surviving the checkout line) and just wants a little treat to make it all better, you don’t coldly inform her that the one thing on the menu which she wants is unavailable. It just might be the last straw.
As I tell this story today, it already seems somewhat amusing and pathetic. In fact, husband and I were even able to laugh about the frozen yogurt incident (which, by the way, was followed by a quick walk to the bathroom for some more crying, a stall door with no lock and a soap dispenser with no soap) later in the evening. I like to think that I don’t allow pregnancy to make me completely irrational, but the truth is that small things seem huge sometimes. And it takes me a while to calm down and realize that they are indeed small. As we were driving back home, I thought a lot about how much furniture doesn’t matter when compared with having a good husband and a baby who regularly and healthily kicks me in the ribs. It’s just stuff. Why do I get so upset about stuff? Today I am not upset about the new crib and bookshelf and think that I can make the room look just fine with the changes. But rearranging my expectations for how my stuff should look is not the true answer to the problem. The true answer is to look at the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap, and yet our heavenly Father feeds them. And are not we (both born and unborn) much more valuable than they? There are so many things that I have planned that don’t work out the way they are supposed to: they work out better. I should just start planning to have my plans overturned, and then I won’t be so surprised.