Letting go of “things” not memories

The daunting task of organizing your house….bleh!  For the past 2 weeks this has been my mission.  Slowly (I mean SLOWLY) it is getting there.  When I started this task I began to ask myself “Where did all of this crap come from?”  But most importantly “WHY am I still holding onto it?”

I can easily answer the “where?”…. my children and OK myself.  I started in their rooms and quickly came to the conclusion that they are hoarders especially my two older children.  Seriously have you ever walked into your child’s room and just want to scream “WHY?!??”  I found a plastic Easter Egg filled with toilet paper….why?  Was my 9 year old afraid that I might forget to pick up toilet paper?  I found valentines from the past 2 years in a bin…why?  I searched through thinking she had a special valentine from a boy or something.  I found food in her sock drawer and huge, half-eaten jar breaker between her mattress and headboard!  This time I did scream “WHY!?!!”  My 9 year old looks at me and just shrugged her shoulders.

I moved into my 7 year old’s room and after his sister’s room I was prepared to find anything.  This boy loses socks like it’s his job!  I kid you not that I purchased him a value pack of socks-20 pair- and within 2 weeks he was wearing the same disgusting pair every day.  Why?!??  Where did the others go?  I now know where they went…toy box, under his bed, mixed up in sheets, closet, toy bins.  He has a problem of holding onto every little, tiny piece of paper that has anything to do with football.  Tiny pictures, words, cut out and put in all areas of his room with no rhyme or reason.  But he knew where each were and why he needed to hold onto it.

As I began to help them sort through all of their things, I came across things that I hadn’t seen in so long.  In my daughter’s room a folder and notebook filled with drawings that she had made when in preschool-she’s in 4th grade now!  She immediately went to put them in the garbage and I quickly grabbed them from her.  I looked at them and smiled and could remember her making the pictures.  Then I went back and forth in my mind to keep it or throw it away.  Why?!??  I have all her special things in a special box.  Throwing these things away will not ruin anything but I began to feel guilt for not wanting to keep them.  Ridiculous I know. So I didn’t feel guilty, I asked her what she wanted to do.  She asked me to keep the notebook and throw the folder.  I put the notebook to the side and the folder went in the garbage.  I stared at it.  Maybe I should keep it I thought.  She squashed it for me and threw more garbage on top of it.

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In my son’s room I stood and looked at all his toys.  The boy plays with his football things and that is it.  He no longer plays with his train tracks or his construction trucks.  He no longer plays with the army men or the gazillion CARS cars he has in a bin.  So why were they still in his room and taking up value space?  It wasn’t his fault.  It was mine.  So I took a deep breathe and I pulled the toy box out of his room that contained all his train tracks and big trucks.  I sat on the floor and stared at the army men and the matchbox cars/CARS cars.  I could feel my heart breaking.  These toys made up my little boy’s life for so many years.  How could he no longer need these toys?  I felt like I was in the movie Toy Story 3 and he was heading off to college.  He is in 1st grade!  I couldn’t make the decision so I asked him what he felt we should do with these toys.  He looked at me and said he didn’t want me to sell them or donate them.  He didn’t want me to put them away yet.  He is STILL my little boy I thought and my heart was not as sad anymore.  He asked if I could just put them under his bed just in case he wants to play with them.  And that is what we did and that is all that is under his bed.

Later that night, after the kids went to bed, I thought about how hard it was for me, not them, to get rid of things.  They are objects.  Yes they were a huge part of their lives but they aren’t important.  Throwing them away will not damage them to the point where they will be discussing this day with a therapist and say how I ruined their childhood for making them clean their rooms, donate things they no longer need, and how I didn’t value their belongings.  If anything, they will tell a therapist that I taught them how to be a hoarder and they will appear on an episode of Hoarders!

Why do I hold onto so many things?  I know the things are not what I am holding onto.  I am holding onto the memory these things hold for me.  I feel time slipping through my fingers  so quickly.  The days seem like hours and the weeks/months just keep ending and beginning in a blink of an eye.  I often say that I wish I could freeze time or that I had a rewind button.  There are so many memories I would love to go back to and relive.  There are so many moments in time I would love to freeze in time.  But that is not how life works.  So as I continue the daunting task of organizing the house, I feel I am more emotionally prepared to get rid of the things that I have held onto the past year (years) because I know by getting rid of them I am not getting rid of the memory.  I am simply getting rid of the things that helped create the memories that I hold in my heart.

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