I’ll admit, I have a bit of OCD when it comes to cleaning.
My parents never saw the harm in it when I was growing up, because it meant they came home from work to a clean house. When visiting home from college, I would lie to my friends about what time I got into town, just so I could clean my parent’s house before anyone came over. I’ve never had a roommate complain about my penchant for cleaning and my husband excuses the fact I don’t cook because of this. In fact, most people find my cleaning annoying, because I’m like a tornado, throwing away and donating anything that comes in my path. However, there is one teeny tiny part of my garage and basement where I have a “smallish” pile of things I cannot rid myself of. My husband refers to it as a hoard. I think that’s a little over-exaggerating.
To me, it’s memories.
When it comes to spring cleaning there is one genre I tend to avoid and that’s everything my daughter has outgrown. The bumbo, high chair, clothing, toys, bottles, rattles, you name it, I can’t bear to have it donated. I’ve shipped several boxes of clothing to my sister, who also had a girl, but most everything else, I’ve kept over the years. I even had my sister mail back my maternity clothing under the promise that, yes, it was really worth the shipping costs to let me house the items again. As my daughter grows, so does the
hoard pile, and I find myself turning a blind eye to the obvious outgrowing of clothing that is occurring. Sure, that dress was meant to have three quarter length sleeves and that jacket fit snug. This way I can keep putting items back in the drawer, instead of adding to the bins and boxes I currently have downstairs.
As the pile grows, so does my husband’s mounting concerns.
“What are you saving all that for anyway?” he asks at least once a month.
“In case we have another baby.”
“But you don’t want more kids.”
“But I might.”
“But we’re done. I’m done.”
“But I might not be.”
And so our conversations go until he gives up and leaves the topic alone for another day.
The arrival of spring usually means our garage door opens and we start to clean out the clutter. For years we had boxes of my brother-in-laws items stashed in the garage, which became my focus to clear out. Next it’s been stacks of my husband’s books from college and old cleaning products. We even have two Christmas tree skeletons stashed on the side of our house. My husband tends to be somewhat of a hoarder when it comes to papers and electronics, so I’ve honed my focus on him to take the spotlight away from myself. I do not want to confront the obvious fact that maybe, just maybe, we are done having children and do not need a high chair or walker anymore.
What if a friend comes over and brings their baby? We’ll have nothing for them to play with! Perhaps they’ll need a pack n’ play or a swing and I’ll be able to provide this for them! I’ll never get back the money I invested in all those sleep sacks, car seats, and strollers, so I might as well keep them all! Right?
I remember my grandmother still had my mother’s dollhouse in perfect condition, which she produced from her attic one day to our delight. My daughter now owns the rocking chair my mom had when she was little. Long after my sister and I had outgrown our legos and kids table, my grandmother still saved them so that when my brother was born, who was nine years younger, he had things to play with. My mother’s high chair served as our dolls place at the table. I suppose the hoarding of children’s things, in the hopes they may be passed down someday or re-purposed is ingrained in my DNA.
I simply cannot spring clean these items into oblivion.
So if you’re looking for advice on how to clear the baby gear out of your home, I’m not the woman for you. I can advise you on dust, dirt, stacks of mail, clothing, shoes, or just about anything else, except what my daughter has outgrown. I even have a bulging drawer in her room full of artwork from school. I know I’ll have to tackle that one day, but I’m just not ready. Moving past her baby things is a admittance that’s she’s growing up and the reality is she might be the only baby I ever have. Opening boxes of newborn clothing is like taking a stroll down memory lane for me. A reminder of the late night feedings and all of the firsts, from crawling to walking, and the in-between that felt insignificant at the time, but a world apart from now. I don’t want to admit that part of my life is over, and keeping all those boxes and bins keeps the hope alive in me that someday, maybe, I’ll do it all over again.
If I don’t? Then my friends, and maybe even future grand-kids, will happily lighten the burden for me.