>For one more minute…one more time
>Some friends of ours just sold their house and so began the packing frenzy. Somehow this was contagious and launched my family into an afternoon of attacking closets which spread to a ripping apart of the attic. Amidst sneezes, scoffs from the kids, and eye rolls that could’ve won Academy Awards, my husband and I had a come to Jesus meeting. Amongst unused Christmas lights, toddler toys, and baby accessories, we finally asked the question, “Why are we keeping all this stuff?”
Now, I know people (you shall remain nameless, but you know who you are) who have moved boxes of stuff from apartment, to house, to other homes, and have not so much as OPENED these boxes right through the 80s, 90s, let alone the early new millennium. This is not what we do. We are purgers to be sure. However…I am a little bit of a hoarder when it comes to my children’s things. I’m terribly sentimental. Picture if you will a bag of plastic interlocking blocks. My husband holds them up with a slight scowl as if to say, ‘Toss these!’ I retort, “But don’t you remember how we thought our first born was a genius when he could stack them all by himself when he was only fourteen months old?” Then we came across the all-wooden kitchen set with the iron pots and pans and ceramic tea set. Same look. I gave the puppy dog eyes that said, “Don’t you remember how our daughter served us imaginary meals and fed her babies in her kitchen set all those years?” PLUS…here comes the best part, “Won’t it be wonderful when our grandchildren play with those?”
Yes, I said those words, and if I were to hear the word “Grandma” in reference to me in the next decade, I might suffer from a major stroke. I’d try to be very supportive, but I’m really pushing for being a sixty-year old Grammy, cookie-baking, already have traveled some Grammy. You get my drift. But I digress. Back to the attic…
Here’s the bottom line: there was damage to some of the treasures saved for the future grandchildren and the stuff had to go. The highchair had yellowed and the plastic started to peel. The crib was missing some of its hardware (this could be just a bit of a problem). The wicker bassinet that I’d slept in…let me say that again…that I’d slept in, that my babies also has slept in, that my grandchildren were to sleep in, looked a bit…well…icky…allergy-laden, if you will. If I knew then what I know now about allergies, I would never put a newborn in anything like that; it had to go.
What didn’t get donated was the doll house. My parents, crazy as they were, had a wooden doll house custom made for me to resemble our real house with matching furniture and oil paintings. It was wonderful and creepy all in one! A bit of a psychotherapists delight! I had it repainted, carpeted, wallpapered and “decreepified” for my daughter when she was about six. I also had my husband attach it to a “Lazy Susan” (hate that term BTW) so that she could turn it back and forth and enjoy the front and back of the house, which I could never do. This was the only toy my daughter never shared with others. I got it. I didn’t feel she needed to. It was fragile and it was her world. She played with it constantly for years. That is, until she didn’t. The dollhouse moved into the closet about two years ago. It’s a bit like Woody in Toy Story 3; just dying to be played with. Yesterday, that day came. I sat beside my daughter and watched her take every piece, look at it, and comment something like, “Remember this? How I used to love the way it would hold things?” or “Did you know I always liked to peek in here like this?” I cried. She knew I would. She rolled her eyes a little and gave me a little, “Oh, Mom,” but she wasn’t disgusted.
I told her I waited nearly 30 years for the moment I gave her my doll house. It might be 30 years before she has her moment with her daughter. “What if I don’t have a daughter?” she asked. I shrugged. I didn’t have that answer, only that it just felt like she would, just like I knew I would.
I don’t think we hold on to things because we want stuff. Stuff just takes up space. It doesn’t hug us or give us peace or tell us we are lovable. I think what we really want is to step back into that space in time: to watch my baby boy building his blocks, clap and cheer, and see his face light up and feel his little hands wrap around my back and squeeze him tight; to peek in my daughter’s room and watch her serve tea to her baby doll Marigold and then be invited for a cup of tea and give her a kiss on her neck that smells like roses; to see her at her doll house, creating a world that’s sacred, private, and wonderful; to savor those days that we rushed…we didn’t know they’d go so fast.
After I donated a truck load of things to the Hospice thrift store, I returned an hour later to stare at the baby bassinet. I had to hold it one more time. It was so silly, really. It was empty. What was inside once upon a time has grown into the most spectacular people and both are so wonderful…more wonderful than I could’ve ever dreamed. One of them is still awake…I think I’ll go give him a hug.