Having recently come out of a depression… months and months of stalling, stagnating, feeling stuck and dark, it’s amazing to see how much I get done, now that I am digging my way out. Frankly, I was beginning to think that my new base line was, well… very low— after years of compulsively do, do, doing. Projects that have been cluttering my head for months, no years, are getting done. I’m writing most days again, working on my novel and determined to get it back to my editor by this summer. I’ve thought about that for ages, but had done barely anything since she sent it back last summer for more edits. Admittedly, my blog has suffered a bit, but frankly, it’s all part of my “recovery.” I’m doing what inspires me, in the moment, not what I feel obligated to do. I write my posts when I’m inspired. I work on my novel with renewed inspiration and focus. I take on projects that I really want done. The hope, the vision: that the things I do will be infused with a new passion and commitment. So far, it feels very rewarding.
So, we have a storage space on the third floor. The original owners dug under the house, put in a floor and low walls, and called it storage space. The problem is that it is very damp down there.
All the junk Everything I’ve stored over the years has mildewed horribly. The idea of taking it all out and dealing with it has literally bogged me down mentally for years. Years! I decided to start with baby steps— literally. I started with all the baby clothes I’ve kept… the favorite outfits, precious things that each of my three children have worn through the years. They were all in plastic bins, but not the truly airtight ones that are made now. So, they all smelled awful! They are, however, the most important things in that space and I figured that if I start there, even if I peter out later, I will have accomplished the sacred stuff.
Let me start there, with an ounce of honesty: I kept an awful lot of stuff, and not all of it is as sacred as I once thought! There, I’ve admitted it. I’ve certainly owned up to a fair bit of
hoarding pack-ratting squirreling collecting over the years. You could read here, or here, or here, and a few other posts as well, and you’d see the trend, the dysfunction, the struggle. For now, I’m practicing self compassion: there are reasons, and I’m working on it. All of it. You might read those other posts and think: well, she’s said she’s changing before, or sounds like the same issues, or you might notice a trend toward slowly figuring out that things I’ve saved are less valuable than I thought they were. If you’re anything like the voices in my own head, there are plenty of points you could make. But, again, I’m working on that: compassion.
It’s a work in progress. So I looked at each item carefully, and anything that wasn’t still special (no matter how cute), or which had spots, etc, I donated. Took them out the next day. A few items I mailed off to friends in Denmark, who just had babies (twins), and from whom I received these items in the first place. So, now two little boys in Denmark, will be wearing the same overalls their daddy once wore, and passed on to my girl! That is big progress and fun kismet.
I saved so much!! My future grandchildren will never need new clothes, and I have to hope that their parents have no attachment to current styles. My grandkids will be vintage babies, no doubt… in my mind. As I lifted items out of the bins, I noticed how incredibly little each of my babies had once been, even if they each came in at 8-9 lbs. Some things I held to my chest, remembering precious moments with my girl, my boys. I remembered the people who had given them some of these things, where we had been living when they wore them, what our lives were like… then. Such sweet memories.
I’ve got Baby Gap clothes from the very first season that Baby Gap put out clothes. Kaching, right? I’ve got rain coats that both boys wore, and their father wore before them, 49 years ago. Blankets that their grandmother, Marcia (Smart Guy’s mom) knit. Outfits that she and Papa bought for them, in their travels. There are sweaters and outfits their great grandmother, Jo-Ann (my grandmother) knit or bought for them. Beautiful items from people who are all gone now. All the classic little dresses and jumpers my mother insisted on, now look so amazing. But the things that hit me hardest, were the countless blankets, onesies, dresses, and various items that my mother painstakingly hand-painted (I had a business doing it for years; she did it exclusively for us) and cross stitched for her grand children.
As I held up each item, I saw it with the same wonder I did when I first saw them years and years ago. I fingered the brush strokes and imagined my mother sitting in her home in Florida and painting each little thing. She made things for each of her grandchildren, when they were little. A few short years after the last babies were born, her Huntington’s took hold and she couldn’t handle a brush, or make the tiny Xs for cross stitch. The Peter Rabbit blanket she made for Middle Man, was probably the only one she ever did. So much work. So much love. She adored her grandchildren. All 7 of them were so important to her. She rocked them when they were little; she sang to them; and, she made things for them.
Principessa, the eldest of her grandchildren, barely remembers her grandmother when she wasn’t sick. That is so sad to me. She was once a very funny, vibrant woman. She was a big personality, who shriveled under HD’s hold. She was still in there, clinging to shreds of herself, to the end, but her grandchildren couldn’t really see that. They saw the woman who stumbled, slurred, became more and more awkward to be around. It is all so very sad. But there, in the bins, are the stitches in time that she made with her own once steady hands. There are the colorful brush strokes and loving details that she made, out of joy and pride, for children she adored.
I washed each item with the Dreft I once used for all of my baby clothes. I dried them, and folded each item carefully. They are all tucked away in special bins that keep out moisture and air, and stored in our new storage area— that’s dry and safe. Some day, I will give these to my children, when they have their own children. I will hold new babies, my grandchildren, wearing these beautiful things that their grandmothers, their great and great-great grandmothers made for them. Items that dear friends, aunts and uncles, and I made or bought for them, so long ago. For now, as I ran my fingers over the pattern and colors and stitches, I could remember the women— my mother, my mother-in-law, my grandmother, who once laughed with us, played with us, and loved us. It’s all stored away, waiting for new babies to feel all that history and love.
What have you saved? What do you wish you’d saved? Or, do you let things go, and sleep well? No right answers; just share your thoughts.