Day 18::Kids Toys Are Messing With My Mind.

So I tackled Sassy’s bedroom today. It was the last refuge for anything in the playroom that I didn’t want to deal with. Which is shorthand for saying, I tossed all the toys in her room that I couldn’t deal with the thought of giving them away. Which is longhand for saying that I essentially filled her room full of every kids toy that had any meaning in our lives.

The toy dinosaur that Naturalist pulled around by a string, rather than any kind of girly dolls.
The toy cars that Golfer would always keep clutched in his little toddler hands.
The duplo blocks that were passed down from kid to kid.
etc.,
etc.

The very first post I wrote about our undertaking to purge ourselves of everything we own so we could live in an RV in So. California, I talked about letting go of connections to things. Something I’m not really great at, which is why I have about 10 tons of stuff in my house to sort through right now. I still have the Buddha quote on my mirror: “This is not mine. This is not me. This is not myself”, and that’s been comforting.

But there’s more to it, isn’t there? Because when it comes to kids stuff, it really feels like it IS me. It’s been my job for the last 13 years…homemaker, stay at home mom, caregiver, provider of tenderness and love…it’s been my job to fill up our home not only with emotional stability (ha ha!) but also physical things. Comfy furniture. Pleasant knick knacks. Pictures. Food. and toys. The toys that I watched my kids play with. The toys that were cuddled to sleep, that were shoved in pockets and washed ten dozen times, the toys that were left at the park and that then had to go be rescued.

My kids may have grown out of them, but I haven’t. This is why Elmo made me cry. This is why so many of my mommy friends are simultaneously happy and appalled that I am able to get rid of so many toys and clothes that mean so much in the collective memory of my family.

It’s not an easy process. In fact, it’s a lot like grief…saying goodbye to something that will never be again. This is the closest I’ve come to feeling like I did after I lost my daughter due to HELLP Syndrome. 2/3rd of the way through a normal and happy pregnancy I developed complications that nearly killed me and caused me to lose her. When I was well enough to go back to my family, I remember feeling this incredible drive to spend every second of every day clutching on to Naturalist and Golfer who were 5 1/2 and 2 1/2 at the time. After feeling myself get so sick, and being so close to dying, and grieving my daughter, I went into overdrive to overcompensate for the fear I felt about losing anyone else.

I lived like that for quite a few months…my goal was to enjoy every second I had with my family, but one day I stopped and thought, “I’m not any happier doing this, in fact I’m more stressed out than ever.” I was grasping at the time I had with them because I was afraid of losing it. And doing anything out of fear is just not coming from a good place. And I couldn’t get to a good place from there.

That’s the same feeling I had today, shuffling around Sassy’s room looking at all these things I was holding on to so tightly. I don’t want to lose that time with them when they were small. And as long as I had those things, then I could still keep a part of me back there. But they didn’t really make me feel any happier, it just made me rabidly clutch on to them.

So I remembered what I learned 8 long years ago. It hit me, even if I spend every second of every day with my kids, it still won’t be enough. I’ll never get my fill of them! I’ll never come to a point where I think, “OK, I’m fine if you leave now, we’ve spent some great times together, and I’m done with you!”. On my deathbed or theirs I will always wish I could have had more time, a perspective I gained by actually being on my deathbed. I think that was the most depressing thought I’d ever thought. I think it’s something that most people live their lives avoiding…loss, sadness, separation. Which is a little absurd, because we’re ALL dying. How and when it happens is anyone’s guess, but it’s going to happen to everyone.

And so I sat with that feeling for a while. Where do you go from there, except straight to bed with a pint of ice cream and a soft blanket to cry into? However…the opposite happened. Once I accepted that change would happen no matter how I clung to life in the moment, it freed me up in a thousand little ways. I started appreciating things as they happened, knowing they wouldn’t always be that way. Every moment became a gift. I started laughing harder and crying deeper. I let the times come and go, thankful that I had experienced them and grateful for every new moment that came along. And that, dear internets, is why I called this blog ‘Child’s Play’. It’s what life became to me, and how I want my kids to live theirs. Joyfully and exuberantly for as long as we have breath.

Somewhere along the line I forgot a little of that. The more toys I kept, the more obsessed I became with holding on to not only them but the times they were used. Which led me to today, sitting in Sassy’s room and crying at the thought of getting rid of any of them. Not a good place! So I said to myself, “Listen you sexy lady. (OK, no, I don’t really call myself sexy lady, but I don’t really have something I call myself so I had to put something in there) You don’t have to give away any of your kids. If you had to leave a kid behind, that’s one thing. Cry away. But a toy? that no one is using here but that will get a lot of love in another house? That is no reason to cry.”

So I stopped. And sorted, and gave away lots of things that we’ve loved. I took your suggestions, internets, and took pictures of the things that we loved the most. These princess dolls, for instance, that have been played with by both girls for the last 10 years:

dolls

I’ll keep one or two, but the rest need to go find homes with other little girls who maybe wouldn’t have ever had the chance to have their own fancy doll to love.

Today was the final day for clearing out the rooms in my house. Now all I have left is to box up what’s left, hope it all fits into the minivan, and then put the house on the market. The fact that it’s only been 18 days since I started this is proof that miracles happen!

Tomorrow I promise a post that will be all sunshine and smiles and have a picture of the best Ben & Jerry’s flavor I’ve ever eaten!

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17 Responses

  1. *sniff*

    You rock girl!

  2. I’m terrible at hoarding things that my children have worn/played with/read/glanced at for two seconds. Good lick with the letting go, well done on gaining perspective!

  3. You are amazing! Great post πŸ™‚

  4. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this adventure with us.

  5. I am sorry to hear about your loss. I didn’t know.
    But it’s a huge deal what you’ve learned from it.
    I remember not being able to get in touch with anyone (really in touch, bonding) after my best friend died. I trusted people and relationships no more. Like something failed to me. And I didn’t want to make a bond anymore, with anyone.
    After that is when Oz came to my life. And it was oh so good… He was siezed there, waiting. And when I realized (through singing, yes) that life went on and nothing was granted, I could finally open my heart to him. He said to me “I can’t guarantee that I’ll be here forever. But I am here now.”
    I am purging all my house now. Now I can do it. Not four years ago, but now. For the same reason that now I can undertake a change as big as moving to the coast, a little town where nobody knows us, etc….
    Winds of change, renovation, improvement.
    Congratulations, you, sexy lady!!!

  6. Great post.

  7. Yup. That’s what I was talking about the other day when I said I couldn’t do it.
    And I didn’t feel it was right to list all the reasons why I couldn’t (and don’t want to!) do it.

    oof.

    xxoo

  8. I have always been sad because I have almost no toys and things from my childhood. We moved around a lot overseas as a kid and my parents divorced when I was 5 and so things always got lost in the shuffle of moving, flying, going from one parent to another, etc…

    Something just clicked for me though when I read what you wrote today. I just realized that it’s not the things themselves that I miss (except for my AWESOME loft bed that we had to leave behind in Saudi Arabia. I wish my son could have that bed now) but the memories behind them. Memories of being younger, innocent, and nostalgic for my childhood.

    I think I can let go of that sadness now, because even though I don’t have those things anymore they are still holding me back if I spend my time mourning their loss. So, thank you for putting your ideas out there today for me to read!

    I also have to say that the years spent traveling around the world are some of the best memories of my childhood, so if that is any indication you guys are in for a great time!

    Now I’m off to find some kleenex *sniff*

    xoxo

  9. Tiff,

    You are so in tune with your feelings. You are so deep and able to express yourself so we are all pulled in. You truly are quite amazing. Give those cute adorable kids of yours a big hug from Linda and me.

    We love you all so much

    Margo

  10. Amazing! Letting go is the hardest thing. I really have been wondering how your kids have been through this process. Whenever I de-clutter, the kids run and grab all the crappy broken garbage they haven’t played with in years, and in tears tell me they NEED to keep it!? How do you get rid of things that they will ask to see again? I want to do this too, you are so inspiring!

  11. My grandparents liked to keep things “just in case”, but then they lived through the Depression and so understandable. I like to keep things “just in case” or “I can make something with that” (read keep all my daughter’s baby clothes because I can make a quilt out of it). I also tend to hold on to my daughter’s things because I, too, had HELLP syndrome. My outcome was different but my daughter and I were very ill. Although everything seems fine now, the memories of those weeks and months in the hospital and seeing specialists haunt me continually. As a side note, I also got rid of most of what I own once and lived in an RV. I really enjoyed it. Or course, I was single at the time with no children so that made it a little different. New memories, new adventures, lots of pictures!

  12. Tears of understanding and much happiness for you. Hoping the next steps are smooth sailing compared to this.

  13. (((HUGS)))

    you are so brave – I relate on so many levels, and I can’t. I just can’t let go of those toys. For one, some of my sons toys, are his fathers – play cars from the 70’s, and yes we have star wars from then too. I find them special that matthew can play with the same things as chuck. I have nothing from my childhood, I also didn’t have as many toys. Not to freak you out but I had two huge garbage bags of stuffies that were mine, they were getting cleaned, and somehow they ended up in the garbage…my Big Jim stuff bear has never been forgotton…but now I have boxes of stuffies that haven’t been touched in years, that I still can’t bear too loose. I have issues. πŸ˜‰

    Tiff, you are amazing and an inspiration, and one day I hope to be like you
    Love you kathy

  14. Tiff keep up !
    Mothers are a wonder ! How they want their kids to grow fast and how they cling to the memories when they were kids !

    ( And that includes me ! My kids’ clothes bring tears to my eyes . And I feel they are mine more than theirs ! Because only a mother knows the joy in bringing up )

    Keep up !

  15. Yes. We homeschool moms are so GREEDY for time with our kids! Even all day every day isn’t enough! πŸ™‚

    I started hoarding memories after my brother died by suicide in 1993. I realized I didn’t have many letters from him and not enough current pictures, so I started going overboard with keeping every letter from family members, making home videos, and taking pictures and scrapbooking everything. It got to where I couldn’t really enjoy an experience because I was always trying to make sure I got good pictures and/or video!

    I’m getting better though! And so are you. Thanks for verbalizing your epiphany. I needed that.

    • yes, oh yes. When it turns from a comfort into an obsession, it’s hard to find the comfort and joy of everyday life. I’m so sorry about your brother. Sending lots of peace your way, I know the loss never goes away.

  16. wah! you are making me cry!! I really need to read your blog every day. I get this overload of 10 days and all of your pain and suffering (and I am living some of this too – we’ve been pitching, donating, agonizing, trying to make our little house work for us…) and I just wanted to let you know that I am cheering for you. You are doing a great job.. There is no way that I could have done all of that w/o my husband to help me make these hard awful calls (I had a stuffed animal meltdown just last weekend). I’m so glad that where Todd has to be gone, your “village” of family and friends are taking care of you!

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