Day two of cleaning out assorted closets. I thought today would be easier, since we are done with the stuffed animals and obviously "oh, my baby" items. Board games and assorted science kits seemed like pretty safe territory.
I should know better by now.
I strongly doubt I am the only mother who experiences this. I know that last night when I mentioned I'd had a rough day of cleaning out kid toys to give away, pretty much everyone assumed I meant it had been physically tiring--except the other mothers in the chat channel, who immediately understood that my distress was emotional.
Maybe there are moms out there who are way better at this than I am, but going through my children's belongings--toys, clothes, school papers, ANYTHING--is an emotionally stressful experience for me. Every item has a memory attached to it. Which seems like it would make for a happy journey down memory lane, and it does. Remember my post about how watching my children grow involves a great deal of some emotion that is an equal mix of joy and sorrow? I pick up the plastic dinosaur skeletons, and I hear two little boys at the table on the back deck, clanging merrily at the chunk of fake rock in search of "fossils," and I smell the summer air and the lazy hum of background traffic through the open door. I empty the ancient cardboard box of dried up markers into the trash, and I remember the smell of marker and crayon mingled with cinnamon and vanilla while I made French toast and they presented me with pictures peppered with scribbles and stickers. Even the damned Yu Gi Oh and Pokemon cards bring wistful memories, even though I cringed every time they insisted on spending their allowances on them.
It's not that I want to go back, so much. I love who my boys are now just as much as I loved who they were then. But every item I put in a bag or a box or the trash is a mindful goodbye to the babies I will never again rock and the little boys who will never again bring me a collection of crickets in their bug boxes or beg me to save the spider on the back porch from the Terminix guy. And I suppose we all know, at some level, that every day is a little bit of a goodbye and a little bit of a hello. It's just that most days I'm not fully aware of it, and so on days like yesterday and today, it all catches up and breaks my heart all at once.
I still have the toyboxes in the basement to get through. But oh, I think my heart has had enough for one day.