I had an afternoon of pure bliss. The moons aligned, it was the third Friday of the non-leap year, Sagitarious in the moon of Venus with an ebb tide on the west coast combined with an Easterly, West blowing wind that brought me a house with no children for FOUR – 4!! Hours. My first thought was to run through the house with complete abandonment signing and dancing to Neil Diamond or John Denver. I am not really sure what it was that changed my mind on that first impulse but I soon found myself taping boxes, opening cabinets and carefully wrapping dishes and other breakables and placing them in boxes. I packed the laundry room, the hall closet (gift closet slash craft closet slash I have no idea where else to put this closet.) That stuff was easy. I then moved on to the unassuming, big red hunk of furniture in the pool room. Until just then, when I started packing its contents, it was the holder of picture frames that proudly displayed each of my childrens’ school pictures from 2005 on top and the keeper of adult beverages on the bottom left and on the right, stacks of photo boxes, each labeled with a year. It was the photo boxes that got me. I opened one and then another and another and another. I laughed, I cried (A LOT.) Before the age of digital cameras I took such great care in my photos. I always printed in at least duplicate, one to keep, one to give away. Looking at them now, I wasn’t so good at giving them away. I pretty much have at least two of every photo, even the blurry, out of focus ones, for some reason I can’t bring myself to toss them. There were some I looked at and immediately remembered the day, time, event. Others I looked at and thought – wow, I forgot about that. Being a photographer at heart I have TONS of photos, not just special occasions, but every day in between. I saw in the photos the times when, as my kids were getting older, they were so “done” with me taking photos and others when they didn’t notice I was taking the photo and I captured the pure joy or frustration of the moment - those are my favorite.
Next up … Cal’s room. He went off to a weekend of pure 7 year old fun with his best buddy Andrew and Andrew’s dad Fred off to a cabin in the high country. No mom’s, no brothers or sisters, just plain fun. I am sure there will be no brushing of teeth or hair for the next few days!
With Cal being gone, this was the time for me to purge and pack his room for the move, mostly purge. Saying Cal is a pack rat is a huge understatement. He collects everything. He saves everything. Everything seems to be special or hold meaning for him. I started by getting two big contractor bags for trash, two boxes for Goodwill or yard sale and one box for stuff to keep. At first it was easy to decide which pile something went in. Dr. Suess books – yard sale, he has outgrown those. Two or three week old Poptart under the bed – definitely trash. This was easy I was thinking. I can get through this and then plop myself down on the couch and relax for the rest of the night.
As I started going through his little collection of things scattered through his room I began to think of my things, my stuff. I know all too well that “you can’t take it with you” and I thought I had done a pretty good job of sorting and catoregizing things. There are definitely things I can do without and need to get rid of rather than move it to the new house. And that is when it really hit me. I got to decide what was important, what held meaning and what could/should be tossed. For my stuff, that was easy, for my kids stuff…not so much. Maybe I was reading too much into this. A broken army man was a broken army man…right? Trash. The crayon picture of stick figures on the half sheet of paper ripped from a notebook with vocab words on the back .. trash. Or not?? I suddenly found myself thinking - who am I to decide what is important and what is not? I immediately began to think that if I was not capable of packing my “stuff” and someone had to go in and do it for me, would they toss the picture of my grandmother holding Logan as a baby because it was a bit out of focus and the corner was ripped? (not knowing that this was the very last image I had of my grandmother before she passed away?) Would they toss the “gold” coin from the mint in Philadelphia that was on the floor in the back corner of my closet not knowing it was the coin that Cal and I got on our first trip to Philli when he not only began to eat regular food but stood in line for an hour to just go through the mint and he didn’t cry, throw a fit or freak out that someone was standing too close to him? Needless to say, Cal’s room is half-packed. Left up to him, he would bring everything to the new house. As the adult and parent, I know that is not the best decision. As someone looking from the outside, in … who am I to decide what is important to him and what is not?
I am not a pack rat in any sense of the term. I often find myself looking for something and then remembering … Oh yeah, I gave that away or I tossed it. I am thankful that I packed most of my “stuff” before starting on my kids rooms. Some times as a parent you do what you have to do for the best of the family. I know if I didn’t pack up my kids stuff and help them along the way it wouldn’t get done or we would be moving boxes filled with half empty goldfish boxes, shoes that don’t fit, socks with holes and notebooks with a whole two pages of notes. I now wonder if the memories I have of my childhood are the result of what my parents decided to save or toss, memories of what they decided to talk about or not talk about. Certainly there are times in everyone’s lives that you don’t forget..the big things. However, it’s the every day, nothing going on days, that parents really play a big part in what their children remember. As I pack up my kids rooms (certainly easier to do when they are gone) I hope that what I remember as fun and meaningful will be the same things that they remember, plus some.
I love hearing the feedback on my blog but the common thread from readers seems to be that while they love reading it, it leaves them in tears. So, some humor to leave you with…
Now that Brennen has his driver’s license he is my pick up/drop off slave.
An excerpt from the life of the Campbell family… Friday, 8:15pm…
Olivia – Brennen picked me up WAY TOO EARLY. I WAS THE FIRST TO LEAVE THE PARTY!! (all caps because she was screaming as she stormed into the house)
Brennen – The party was over at 8pm. I was there at 7:55. That is NOT too early.
Olivia – I was the first to leave!
Brennen – It was time to go.
Olivia – screaming something that no one could understand
Brennen – I brought you there and picked you up. You didn’t even say Thank you.
Olivia - Thank you for what?? You picked me up early!
Brennen – I had to plan my night around YOU and leave what I was doing to come and get YOU. You can’t even say Thank you?”
Olivia – Fine…Thank you! You’re a jerk.
Does this sound familiar? It took everything I had not to laugh. What comes around, goes around. Our kids are a product of us. Hearing Brennen tell his sister exactly what I told him at that age (all though I would like to think/remember that what I said to him was more inspirational to change) made my night!
Mom … niiiiicccce.
Life is good.