Monday, November 3, 2014

Cleaning out the Clutter!

I spent all weekend. (Seriously. ALL WEEKEND.) Clearing out clutter, rearranging things to have empty shelves and spaces, and taking yet another hard look at the bizillion possessions I own. Most of the overwhelm has recently come from picking up what amounts to my entire childhood from my mom's basement.

As a mom I know the feeling all to well of wanting to give your child something you didn't have. It's like an intrinsic, primal desire to make sure the next generation is better off. My mom's mom didn't save much from my mom's childhood. A few pictures. Two dresses. And a 1950's Barbie doll. My mom always wished there was more. So while I was growing up she saved everything.

And I mean everything.

Imagine if every stuffed animal, ever McDonald's Happy Meal toy, most of the clothes that clothed you from 0-14, every book (no matter it's condition), every piece of math homework, every certificate of attendance, and every piece of mail from any relative - and that will give you an idea of what I'm sifting through. The 80's have taken over one entire room in my house.

Not so awesome.
As you can imagine this has brought up so many memories. Good and bad. And it's also made me wonder what I want to save of Lil' D's for her future- somewhere in the middle. Not too little but not as much as I have.

While I've been going through my childhood sweater by sweater and letter by letter here are the thoughts that have crossed my mind:

1) Children receive FAR too many certificates. Does every single activity from childhood require a paper certificate? The stack of certificates I have from Grade 1-12 could fill a small moving box alone.

That time I won 2nd place
in 4-H in Appliances
2) Notes from loved ones are only treasures if they contain a meaningful sentiment. I've sifted through many cards from my great-grandmother and ended up only saving a couple.

3) My favorite thing unearthed is my brownie scout uniform. Thats a keeper.

4) I still love patches of all variety and apparently I collected a lot in my childhood.

If you ever wondered what a first grader
in Sylacauga, Alabama ate in 1986
5) Your memories are not sacrosanct. I remembered being an automatic winner when it came to contests of the the Creative Writing variety. In truth I wasn't a wunderkind. I had a lot of honorable mentions before winning first. On the other hand, I did a lot better in math than I remembered doing.

6) Original art is more valuable later in life than classroom craft projects.

7) Same goes for original writing. Much more fun to read than classroom recitation writing. I learned that in 3rd grade the following things drove me "nuts": my brother, our dogs chasing the car down the driveway, and "my mother." Sassy little 8 year old.

That time I adopted a wolf.
8) Stuffed animals you loved in childhood still have an emotional pull. Even when you haven't seen
them for 25 years. Since I don't want to burden Lil' D with every stuff animal I've ever had I've had to dig deep to only keep the ones that really matter. Do your kids a favor and weed it out for them!

9) Don't take moody teenagers that seriously. I found a ridiculously awful story I wrote in 7th grade about abusive, alcoholic parents and a teenage couple trying to get them arrested. I can't believe the teacher didn't call DHS. Where did that story come from? Was I watching too much Unsolved Mysteries? Thankfully, I just got a bad grade.

10) Only save the most beloved clothes. I pulled out a spring jacket that made my heart soar. It was like finding an old lovey. I also pulled out the awful wool jacket from Austria that my mom made me wear all the time and my skin immediately started itching. Either way, it's a lot harder to get rid of clothes than a turkey made out of a paper plate and construction paper.

And finally: A lot of your childhood obsessions come from things your parents introduce you to. This is probably a duh moment for you out there. But I just discovered that my childhood obsession with the Loch Ness Monster or Mozart very obviously came from my parent's trips to Scotland and Austria respectively and the books they brought me back. I don't know what I'll introduce Lil' D to but that's a nugget of info to remember.

So with all this in mind (and so many more things to sort through) I think I'm going to just try to save the highlights from Lil' D's growing up. The FAVORITE coat. The letter to Santa. The most loved stuff toy. A funny essay from school.

There will be plenty and it will save her some time later on. If she gets mad at me for not holding on to enough I'm willing to take the heat.

And then she can hoard all her daughter's possessions and the cycle of life can continue.

It cost 11 cents a minute.

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