I plopped down on my living room floor last Saturday afternoon with a sigh of delight. Because for the next 30 or 40 minutes Iâ€™d be doing one of my favorite things in the world.
â€śMomâ€™s in IKEA mode again,â€ť I heard my daughter say to my husband on the phone. â€śBetter call back in an hour.â€ť
Iâ€™ve said it once, and Iâ€™ll say it again: If loving a good IKEA build is wrong, I donâ€™t want to be right.
Follow your bliss, says the adage. My bliss is staring at wordless diagrams and using tiny Allen wrenches and counting the little wooden doo-hickeys that help hold the furniture joints together.
Kitchen cabinets, desks, chairs, tables â€“ Iâ€™ve done it all. This latest project was a no-brainer, a little rolling utility cart called Raskog. (In our house, itâ€™s custom to call this stuff by its given name.)
And yes, I know itâ€™s not really building. Itâ€™s assembling. Itâ€™s putting together the pieces of a puzzle.
Itâ€™s grownup LEGO. (What is it about Scandinavian companies and all caps?)
My son texted me from Chicago, where he is living in his very first apartment. He was unpacking the obligatory IKEA furnishings: a futon, a desk, a chair, a set of preposterously inexpensive dishes.
â€śThe wheels arenâ€™t going on the chair,â€ť he said. â€śThe directions are wrong.â€ť
Obviously, I needed to set this kid straight.
â€śIKEA directions are never wrong,â€ť I replied. â€śRemember your LEGO sets â€“ just slow down and take it step by step.â€ť
He texted back in a few minutes, wheels in place. I felt like a proud grandparent.
Iâ€™ve thought long and hard about why I love building this stuff, especially since it goes completely against my right-brained soul.
I came to the conclusion, awhile back, that itâ€™s not about creativity.
Itâ€™s about the payoff. A finished product, done to thrilling satisfaction. One correct result.
I feel the same way about laundry. And mowing the lawn. Those jobs â€“ with their instant, clear-cut results â€“ are satisfying precisely because so much of life feels â€¦ unfinished.
Friendships that fizzle out, bills that never get smaller, a kitchen that needs remodeling â€“ again.
Is work â€“ work that you care about â€“ ever really done? You hit â€śsendâ€ť and your story is gone, but you wake up three days later with a small edit nagging at you and wish you could fix the final copy. Iâ€™m sure there are comparable examples in most fields.
And how about parenting? Thereâ€™s a myth going around that you â€śonly have your kids for 18 years.â€ť Then, they zoom off into the world and you kick back with a margarita.
Except that you donâ€™t. Youâ€™re always consumed with worry. And thereâ€™s no â€śWhat to Expectâ€ť book for the post high school years. You realize, at some point, youâ€™re never going to be completely off duty. Ever. And from Day One, youâ€™re second-guessing yourself.
Helping your kid put together an IKEA futon over the phone is a welcome respite.
Itâ€™s one thing you know you got right.
Charlotte tweets @ChLatvala.