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.
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:
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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