Thursday, February 23, 2017

Holding On and Letting Go

It's a beautiful, sunny day. The windows are open, the kids are outside playing. The winter coats are hanging up. It's 60 degrees ... in February.

Before I can even question this gift that Mother Nature is bestowing, I'd best get to my point. After about eight or so years of threatening to work on our basement, my husband has actually started it. Long story short--we had a finished basement. Due to the incompetency of our contractors ten years ago, we lost it, having to gut it down to the walls and floor. The rebuilding process has not been speedy. In the meantime, that area has become a dumping ground and storage area. For the past six weeks, my husband has been cleaning out, which included several dump runs. Now, mind you, I've been asking him to get a dumpster for years because I knew we couldn't start work without cleaning out first. It doesn't matter who suggested it. All that matters is that it's getting done.

Except now my husband wants me to move on his timeline. I may or may not be biting my tongue when this sort of thing happens. One of my tasks is to go through the bins of baby clothes. I saved everything for the first five or six years of my son's life. He's now 13. I had good reason to save it--we didn't know if we were done. We're done. My daughter is nine, so we've been done for a while, whether we knew it or not.

But there's another reason for me to save. I'm sentimental, and I attach emotions and memories to things. My husband is not and does not. This difference makes it hard for us to find common ground at times. On the other hand, both my parents are savers (pack rats, semi-hoarders), and that's not a good situation either.

Take, for example, one of the boxes in my pile to clean out. It's mostly filled with liquor. Not a bad thing, right? Well, it was my grandfather's liquor that I cleaned out of my grandmother's cabinet when she sold her house. Almost 12 years ago. And my grandfather (who would have been 100 yesterday), has been dead for almost 28 years. So this liquor has been around for at least 30 years, but judging by the bottles, probably longer. So, I make the executive decision that I'm dumping the liquor and recycling the glass. I happen to mention this to my mom last night, in discussion of her father's 100th birthday. Later on I get a text from my mom. My dad wants the box of liquor, and I'm not to get rid of it. Something tells me that I'll be cleaning that box of liquor out of my parents' house in the future.

So, there are these bins of clothes. I did start giving clothes away after a certain point, so I guess this could be much worse. I'd say there are about 20 bins. I told my husband I'd reduce it to 1/3 of the current number. He doesn't remember that conversation. So I start bagging clothes. I can't look too closely or take too long, otherwise I won't be able to give anything away. I look at these small outfits and can picture the kids in them. I think of a simpler time, even though I probably didn't appreciate it. Back to the days where the kids' worlds revolved around me. Back to a time when I wasn't staring eye-to-eye with my son.

I joked with someone that I needed to watch a few more episodes of Hoarders to be able to complete this task. I'm sort of not joking. Nor am I poking fun at the people on the show. I can very much relate to the feeling of not wanting to give anything away because it means something. But I also don't want to live like that (and I want the basement finished someday this year).

I know that a tiny pair of shoes won't keep my kids little. A blanket won't make them need me like they used to. I have to force myself out of the past and to be in the moment, listening to them play outside on this gorgeous gift of a February day.

I'm passing the clothes on. To friends. To charities. I hope someone else makes as wonderful memories in these clothes as we did.

P.S.--I'm keeping four bins. Two for each kid. He wanted me to keep one bin total. Tough. I win.