purging

Where’d My Baby Go?

Oh the memories

Oh the memories

We’re doing serious purging at our house right now.  We’ve been vicious.  Haven’t played with it or used it in a while and not donation quality? Purge. Nothing has been spared: old televisions, clothes, toys, pots and pans, etc.  It has been cathartic watching the pile of junk in our attic, closets and guest room dwindle.  Cathartic hearing the heavy “thunk” as we chuck something into the dumpster.

But I’ve had a lump in my throat all weekend.  I was tempted to blame residual grief over last week’s work drama for the lump, but that didn’t seem quite right.

In our zeal to purge, we went through Daniel’s baby gear, and I set aside items to take to a coworker and took a lot to a local thrift store. Pack n Plays (we have 3). Bouncers. Bumbos. Snap n Go. The car seat in which we brought Daniel home from the hospital.  As I sorted, I realized that I was sad about giving away these tokens of Daniel’s babyhood.  Many of these were items we registered for at Babies R Us before his birth, giddy and still somewhat in disbelief that we had reached that milestone. Allowing ourselves finally to ponder the specs on car seats and the combo stroller vs the lighter weight Snap N Go. The bouncy seat that calmed him but also induced rage when he felt taunted by the animals that hovered just above his grasp. The play gym that amused him and was the source of many coos and giggles. I think its music is permanently stored in my memory.

We have tons of pictures of Daniel.  His babyhood is well documented, and I’m sure we have multiple pictures and videos of him playing with or in these items, but it stung to acknowledge these tangible reminders of his infancy, of our euphoria at finally achieving our hard-fought goal, as items we no longer need.

Part of it is due to how fast life is moving. I know that Daniel is growing up.  Hell, he’s almost 4.  FOUR!!!!!  Each night as he whines about some aspect of the bedtime routine, we’ve responded, “We know you can do this.  You’re almost 4.” It’s true and it works, but holy shit, how did  he come to be almost 4???? Last time I checked, he was a tiny baby. What worm hole did we enter?

The other part of it is our infertility history. While never ignored or forgotten, it manages to pop up when I least expect it.  I don’t know if we’ll have another child.  I hope we will, but if we do, it is still likely a few years off.  Keeping bouncy chairs and bumbos for a potential sibling that might not materialize for years seemed silly at best and masochistic at worst.

I did keep a few things.  Items that have so much meaning that I can’t quite bear to part with them. Maybe I’ll have to part with them in a few years, but I’m not ready yet.  I’m not quite sure how I got to the point where a car seat was so symbolic, but it is.

Despite my sadness, I’m glad to be able to pass on what we could.  I like knowing that the items we chose so carefully or were gifted by generous friends and family will help another family.  I like thinking about my coworker’s baby boy playing with the toys that we picked out for our sweet boy when he was a baby. I don’t want to become a hoarder who saves everything because she can’t bear to get rid of something.  It helps knowing some other child may get great joy or some other family will have their needs met by our items.

I’ve enjoyed every stage with Daniel, truly.  Infancy was sooooo sweet.  Toddlerhood was challenging but exciting. He’s a definite little boy now, and every day he comes home with new knowledge and cheek and makes us laugh and melt with his sweetness.  Sometimes, though, I wish I could press pause.  Time is moving so quickly. Too quickly.  In a few years, we might be selling his train table and trains on Craig’s List.  It’s a good reminder to try to enjoy every single moment.

This wistfulness? They don’t mention that in the parenting books.  It hurts. A lot.

 

Purging

J and I have been paying some long overdue attention to our house.  We’ve been cleaning and de-cluttering and throwing away stuff we’ve accumulated that isn’t us or no longer (if ever) necessary.  First, we tackled the bonus room and other rooms.  Next, we emptied the guest room.

Our newly-empty guest room

Our focus this week has been the garage, and I’ve learned a few things:

  • It’s incredibly embarrassing that we’ve accumulated enough new crap to fill a dumpster only 2 years after the last dumpster rental
  • I’ve become ruthless when it comes to junk: throw it out!  We obviously haven’t needed it or missed it.
  • J is a paperwork hoarder – it is astonishing the number of boxes containing old paperwork we have schlepped from residence to residence.
  • What were we thinking putting a box of empty gift boxes from Christmases gone by in the loft instead of the trash?
  • If anyone needs furniture/moving blankets, we’ve got you covered

A couple of the boxes were items from high school and college that I have saved.  A few playbills from plays I was in.  A few papers I was especially proud of.  A folder containing lesson plans from the unit on existentialism for the 10th graders I student taught.  And notebooks containing my writing and thoughts.  J kept remarking that I had a weird expression on my face as I went through those boxes, and he was right.  It felt weird.  I didn’t remember some of the events I’d written about – fairly trivial in retrospect but misery for the 17- and 18-year old me.  I wasn’t very happy in high school, and my freshman year of college was one of adjustment.  Not academically but socially.  I’ve always struggled to find the place where I fit in, and those years were not my best.  The words, the poems…it took me back.  I’m sure that a lot of what I felt was typical teenager angst, but the misery leapt off the pages (Amber, if you are reading this, I bet you understand).

I finally told J that I wasn’t ready to throw away the stuff, but I’d be happy if we could shove the boxes into a corner somewhere and I could try to forget they existed.

I don’t know why I’m hanging on to what I chose to keep.  Do I want Daniel to find my old notebooks and read them?  My essays and stories?  Sure!  Indulge in the brilliance that was my college years (ha!). My notebooks/diaries? Not really.   Those notebooks were used sporadically, so the context is missing.  But I can’t help but feel like they are a tiny bit precious.  They contain a little bit of the teenage me.  Maybe they are my horcrux(es?).

So those items escaped the Great Purge of 2011.  We’ve made progress in our de-cluttering, cleaning and sprucing up.

So have I.

How do you feel when you come across items from your adolescence or past?

We rearranged our hutch to contain the items we liked