I’ve been on a mission lately to declutter every inch of my house. Blame it on the New Year and a resolution-type pursuit of order and contentment, but I am crazy motivated at last to yank ALL-THE-STUFF from closets and cabinets and scary under-bed spaces—then either toss it, store it, or give it away.
I’m a mom, see. This means much of my clutter involves crayons and drawings and deformed elephant figurines crafted in first grade art class. Or at least I think it’s an elephant. Maybe an elk. Either way its tail fell off and one ear is missing but STILL this clay creature is a precious commodity and I will not throw it away. Nor will I keep displaying it on our mantel, for the love of Joanna Gaines.
Therefore I must store it. Right?
A friend gave me some good advice. Keep one box for storing each child’s memorabilia—the self-portraits, Mother’s Day poems, A+ geography tests and so on. Then gift the box to that child the day she graduates from college, gets married, or moves to her first apartment where it can now live in her space and not my own. This ensures a mom is properly saving her child’s precious memories (They’re in the box! They’re safe! Mom cares!!) yet also eliminates the need to keep or display ALL-THE-STUFF indefinitely. Pretty smart, eh?
I thought so. Until an older, wiser friend gave me some different advice. And it has changed the way I look at my memories.
I wanted to share what I just recently learned about saving things from a kid’s growing up years.
Of course I saved most everything as many moms do. Then a few years after they were married I packed up their stuff (which were such great memories for me) and gave the boxes to them. It was too much at one time and they hurriedly went through it and I’m afraid threw much out.
This past week I came across two special cards I had saved from my oldest son. He is turning 44 and in the throes of raising his three kids. I slipped the cards in his birthday card, and he called to thank me for the items. He shared them with his kids who are about the age he was when he got the cards, and it meant so much more to him now.
I want to encourage you younger moms, please, to dole out bits and pieces of the treasures you’ve saved from a child’s life journey and pass them along one by one, at a time in their adult life when it will be meaningful to them. Don’t be in such a rush to get the memory boxes out of your house.
I read that letter and immediately thought of the preschool paintings, the “Mom, I lov yu” cards and the rainbow loom earrings I’d just last week cast into the “memory box.” And then I thought about all the random scribbles, book reports, and “You’re the best mom” sticky notes I’d thrown in the trash all in an effort to declutter, decontaminate, restore some order to my space and my fried mommy brain.
Why did I discard them so carelessly? There’s room in the box for more. Just as I was bent on clearing ALL-THE-STUFF from my sight and mind, this wise advice shouted—stop. What more do we possess of childhood but our memories?
My children are growing and changing every day, never quite the same people they were yesterday. At ages 10 and 7 now, I barely remember their baby stage anymore, their toddler mispronunciations or their kindergarten shoes. Heaven help me, lately I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast by the time lunch rolls around, and I know this deficiency will only worsen as I grow older, too.
So I’m going to start saving more STUFF, within reason. And I won’t be eager to hand it all over when my children come of age. From now on our memory boxes have been granted a permanent spot in the basement—so I can deliver our sweet memories piece by piece, as long as I’m still around to share them.
“The memory of the righteous is a blessing…” (Proverbs 10:7a, ESV).
It’s funny, isn’t it? Much of the “clutter” we complain about may actually be those memories in tangible, preservable form. So let’s treat it with respect. Crayon wrappers and socks with holes—hey, by all means, that junk can go. But the masterpiece those little hands drew with the crayons? And the painted footprint of those feet that once fit into the socks? Think twice, momma. Someday we’ll be glad we did.
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