Toy Story

When a new dad's collection obsession is cramping a new mom's style—and the baby's.


Our baby is only 5 months old, but our apartment was crammed with toys long before my husband and I ever thought about having kids. No framed portraits of us in crisp, matching shirts adorned our mantle. Instead, a lifelike bust of Caesar from Planet of the Apes engaged our visitors with his simian stare.

While we ate our meals, the Bionic Man and Bionic Woman action figures hovered nearby, standing side-by-side in disco-era solidarity with Donny and Marie dolls. My husband's toy collection ensures his 1970s boyhood is never far away. His endearingly quirky sentimentality and passion for pop culture were among the things that made me fall in love with him. But somewhere around my third trimester, the visions began—I imagined being suffocated beneath stacks of vintage DVDs of The Muppet Show or conked on the head by the original Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine. Baby shower loot rolled in, competing for space. Our apartment started looking like it could be featured on the show Hoarders.

It's hard to ask someone to throw away cherished memories just to make room for Boudreaux's Butt Paste and packs of diapers. Instead, we opted for what would be the first of many parental compromises: My husband combed through his collections, getting rid of things that held less meaning. He displays the good stuff and keeps the memorabilia B-team in a storage unit.

Despite his efforts though, I became increasingly claustrophobic as my baby grew inside me. As our baby's things began crowding out our adult—and not-so-adult—belongings, I realized I needed to make a compromise of my own. After years of not wanting to deal with the hassle of moving and leave our impractically small San Francisco apartment, we decided to move into a bigger place in a less expensive city. My commute is longer, but one of my biggest joys is coming home to see my husband and daughter listening to vintage records with both his and her toys within reach.