Twice a year, my family begins the tradition of rummaging through closets, dressers, under beds, and deep in cobwebbed corners, weeding out the torn, worn, and the junky from overstuffed bedrooms. The kids try on clothes, saddened to learn that their favorite shirt from the previous year now looks like a better fit for an infant. I set them in a consignment pile to sell, saddened for another reason: yet another reminder of the passage of time.
The kids root through bins of outgrown toys I tucked away long ago when they weren’t looking and announce they suddenly can’t live without the Little Einsteins rocket and fly it around the room, proclaiming it their most favorite toy ever. “Mom, you can’t get rid of this!” Don’t even mention the fact that they played with it three times a year.
They hold up various items, not even sure what they are, and beg me not to sell them: a baby bathtub, infant scratch mittens. They pull out things I either don’t want to look at ever again or things they never looked at: a house with a ringing door that rings all the time, princess books I hated to read, a robot magnet puzzle for staying occupied in the car that did not work.
Getting rid of the kids’ stuff is a mixed bag of emotions every year. At first seeing my kids’ packed-away clothes took the wind out of me, knowing no more of my offspring will toddle around my unscrubbed floors and need me every second of the day. It’s amazing how fabric and buttons can bring a surge of grief, pain, and laughter you have to gulp in silence or sit down and give in to. Memories swarm to a time when my kids used to sit on my hip and say “ma-ma” and really look at my face. Seeing their tiny baby clothes became too much to bear. I couldn’t part with the preemie outfit my son wore home from the hospital or the outfits I bought when I learned I was having a girl. I washed them and gave them to my daughter to use for her dolls, just like my mom did when I was little. The summer dresses I loved, the shorts that hung to my son’s ankles, everything else that brought memories I’ve tagged, sold, and had to move on.
Some things I have happily tagged to get rid of thinking, “I’ll giveit away if I have to.” Those annoying toys the kids talked their grandparents into when we parents weren’t around. The obnoxiously loud ones that sound off in the middle of the night or the ones we knew they’d never play with and didn’t.
Still there are toys that one day I’ll lovingly pack away because they define such a chunk of my kid’s life. My son got a pirate ship when he was two that he still plays with occasionally. One day I’ll give it to my grandkids and tell them the odd names he gave the pirates: Scotgok, Elvis, Redhead, Brownbeard, Harold the Helicopter, Captain Fierce, No Name, and Greenie.
My sister and her husband once dropped off some broken, old junk at the dump that included their kids’ old jeep. Both kids drove it for years. My sister warned her husband not to look back when they drove away. Sometimes, you just can’t.
My First Giveaway!
In honor of spring-cleaning and out with the old, I’ve decided to hold my first giveaway. I’ll pick two random readers to win these lovelies: a pair of broken-in jeans. My son has done all the work so your kid doesn’t have to. Stains included.
And this Big Wheel provides nonstop skidding action. Just thump-a, thump-a down the road and hit the brakes, kids!
Terms and conditions: No givebacks, no paybacks.
Some things you just can’t give away, but I’ll try.
28 responses to “Who Wants My Old Junk? Sometimes, Me”
We’re just starting to go through spring/summer clothes from last year too. I picked my son up 4 pairs of shorts the other day, only to find out I should have bought a size bigger. Sometimes I don’t realize how quickly they are growing.
That I can never get right!
Love this post!! It’s so bittersweet. There have definitely been things that I didn’t think twice before putting them in the donation pile…and OTHERS…I had to crack open a bottle of wine first.
Yeah, it’s hard sometimes to let some things go but you just can’t keep a size 3 toddler dress forever. Or a box of them. That’s what pictures are for I guess.
I love this post too. You captured that feeling so well. My heart aches as I think about my babies growing up, but at least I have enough perspective (from posts like yours!) to try and savor every moment. (I said try.)
Thanks, sometimes it’s hard just to write them. And then my kids come in twenty times and that feeling is kind of over.
Awesome post! I feel this way too when going through old toys and clothes… I have a keepsake box for each boy that is entirely too large!
My dad has just bought a new house half the size of his old one, and also half the size of the one his partner owns – so that is two large housefuls of stuff trying to fit into one cottage. Inevitably the casualties are all the things that the four of us have been keeping for sentimental value. I cried when we realised that I would have to sell all my furniture – the bedroom set, the dining table and chairs, the huge chest of drawers, everything I had been keeping to put into the house that has yet to materialise for me. It’s hard to get rid of memories, but I’ve had to be sensible. I can keep the calendar with my mum’s antenatal checks marked on (me!) but I cannot keep the wardrobe.
Oops, sorry, I hadn’t finished that comment! I wanted to say that this post came at exactly the right time, thanks for giving me a bit more courage to go through this process. Like you say, this is why we have photos.
Yes, it’s hard to give those things away too. My husband and I are fortunate to have his great-grandmother’s dining room set and many other sentimental things, but we had to pass on so much. Remember that there is still a lifetime of memories ahead.
I let myself keep one old (medium sized) trunk of favorite clothes, stuffed animals, first soccer cleats etc as my son grew out of stuff – its not that big so it forced me to pick items carefully. I try to do spring cleaning when I’m in a certain mood where I can “purge”!
When the kids start coming downstairs in clothes that are too small, I know it’s time! I’ve been pretty good about my box of keepers so far. I actually have toys from my childhood that my kids play with. They really love that.
……& I have to believe my old Barbie’s are loving their new home as well !
Very true. The Toy Story movies come to mind!
Ah, giveaways… I have managed to avoid too many giveaways during my parenthood, only because our family thrive on hand-me-downs, so I get to see favourite items of clothing being passed from child to child! Another great post 🙂
I just recently put all of my dudes’ Thomas the Tank Engines in plastic bins and into the “storage” area in our basement. It made me a little sad thinking how fast they have grown. We did, however, get rid of some noise-making, annoying toys – thank goodness!
What size are the jeans?
I somehow knew you would be the person to comment about the giveaways. ; ) Let me take my kid out of them and check.
They can be turned into cutoffs! I am ALL ABOUT avoiding shopping.
You expressed exactly how I feel when we do clean outs. And I love the pirate names!
I have started a new fitness program so I’m holding onto the jeans I could wear last year but cannot zip right now. Hopefully, I’ll be able to giveaway these yoga pants and blousy shirts that have become my uniform away by the end of the summer. Or I could just save them — in case I have a mean winter again in 2012. Sandy
I miss my Big Wheel!
They are awesome! My sister and I blew a hole in hers too by skidding down our driveway. They should make an adult version.
In the process of trying to get rid of accumulated memory holders. Also trying to get my dad to do so in order to save me some trouble later. It’s hard to let go of those things, but it’s the memories that are most important.
I love purging. I do it often and (usually) without the kids watching (they don’t want to give anything away, but they rarely ask about it later). I am weird that I don’t have much attachment to stuff. I lost a camcorder with I-don’t-know-how-much video footage of my young children on it (it was stolen) that hadn’t yet been backed up — I got over it probably within a year.
As soon as something is not being used anymore, it gets “passed on.” No garage sales, no store in the attic for years-at-a-time, no E-bay hassles. If there’s not a place for a stuff to “live” in my house, that’s a signal I have too much stuff and stuff must go. I simply make some calls and get it out.
There are a few, precious TIMELESS toys or outfits that ALL my kids wore or played with. I pack those away in airtight containers (there aren’t many) for my kids to fight over when I’m gone and pass to their kids. Favorite fabrics or cotton T’s get the fronts (or backs) cut off and saved for me to make a quilt for each child to take with him — his memories only, particular with pictures to prove it.
I get great satisfaction knowing when something is getting loved and used by someone (not necessarily someone I know) and not sitting in my attic or in a landfill. Pass it on, I say. The memories will continue to be made long afterward.
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Reblogged this on kidsandwhatnots and commented:
it’s nice to know i’m not crazy when i got teary-eyed while packing away my kids’ baby clothes…
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