Ikea and the Single Girl

It's ComplicatedYou are a single woman again. You are powerful. You are smart. You are independent. You are in control of your own destiny.

Your whole life is ahead of you. The world is your oyster. You get to build it from scratch.

Or rather, you get to build it from flat, heavy boxes from Ikea.

Building your life from scratch sounds awesome until you sit down to get to work and realize that you don’t have a hammer or a screwdriver or a power drill, you just have a crappy little metal tool which gives you blisters on your fingers. And the same goes for Ikea furniture.

As much as you enjoy the empowerment and independence, there are some things in life that just suck when you’re by yourself. And suck even more when you’re by yourself with two small children. Getting furniture from Ikea is one of those things. For me it took 2 trips, 1 by myself while I was kid-free for the weekend to scout out everything, compare prices, test out chairs, and buy a lot of the smaller items we needed. That evening I came home with 3 new Expedits to try and get our house organized. I sat down to build them feeling all awesome and in control. Until this happened.

It was bad enough that I’d been trying to work without any real tools, that my fingers were sore and aching, that I wasn’t even half way through my work when it happened. It was the end of a long day and it broke me. I admit it. That little wooden dowel-y thing broke me.

Of course, this meant that the next day when I got the kids back I had one big boxed Expedit and one half-assembled one taking up space in the living room, pushed as far out of the way as possible. Plus we still had one more trip to go. Thankfully I had help this time, which was especially good because Smaland was closed. CLOSED. (Graham would have been devastated if we hadn’t distracted him immediately with food. He loves Smaland.) We were able to make relatively short work of it. Meaning that we only spent 3 hours finalizing choices, loading the giant boxes on to the cart, buying the things, setting up delivery, returning some things from yesterday, and picking up one thing from the warehouse across the freeway.

It would’ve been impossible to do alone. So many things are like that now. You feel empowered for a while until you have to call in friends as reinforcements. I am lucky to have good friends who answer the call. And a new box of cheap tools.

crappy wrenchy thing is less than actual tool

In the end I conquered that remaining Expedit-and-a-half by myself after the kids were in bed. And I’ve sorted through boxes of clothes. I’m slowly but surely turning the apartment into my home. Just like I’m slowly but surely turning my solo life into something that’s just mine again.

I wish I could do it all by myself. I wish I already had all the tools. I remember last time I was single and I bought two giant bookshelves from Ikea. And while I can look at them now and feel proud and awesome for having assembled them 100% on my own, I remember clearly how many hours I spent, how many nails I hammered, and how worried I was that it would end up as a disaster since I’d never built anything before. And back then I had the freedom to take my time, to browse the store, to take up the entire living room with giant slabs of wood, to take a week to put something together if I wanted to.

This time around is harder, I guess, but in a way it’s also easier. I’m not scared of building a bookcase or a table or an Expedit square. I feel more confident about my life and my decisions and my future even though I have less options. 

Today my friend is coming over so we can build the table and chairs together. Just because I’m independent and awesome doesn’t mean I won’t take a little help sometimes.


  1. says

    Oh man, IKEA. I love IKEA. I hate IKEA. My house has way too much IKEA.

    If you can master getting through IKEA with a tiny degree of success with not one but two small children… I know for a fact you can do anything. Even when you can’t. I know this because me and my one small child have routinely failed at this. Not just a little fail but loud, the police might come and take him away oh my god we’re Those People level fails. It’s life with autism, right?

    Wishing you and your children the best on the road yet to come. Your blog is truly beautiful, thank you for creating such an interesting space on the ol’ internets.
    Nicole recently posted..Supporters of Caretakers, Lend Me Thine Ear

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