Decluttering in the presence of the past

Last week I decided to take on some much-needed spring cleaning in our home.

Published: 09th January 2019 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th January 2019 08:16 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI : Last week I decided to take on some much-needed spring cleaning in our home. Ok. I watched two episodes of ‘Tidying up with Marie Kondo’ on Netflix, and decided I needed to hold all the things we owned to see if they sparked ‘a sense of joy’ deep within.  I am fascinated with the show and I won’t lie, watching how much ‘stuff’ other people have makes me feel smug and just a little bit superior. Not nice I know, but true. 

So, I started off with the kids’ room. Or rather what was once the kids’ room but is now a shrine to Wimpy Kid, sporting equipment and lego prototypes of future spaceships that will one day save mankind. I was expecting a few productive hours of purging old projects, toys, trousers that skimmed the ankles (and not in a fashionable way) and books that the boys had outgrown. What I wasn’t expecting was to be reduced to a blubbering mess of tears and snot within minutes. 

My boys had grown up. When did that happen? 
As I looked through the pages of old picture books stained with spinach puree spit up and an old box of miniature dinosaurs that hadn’t been played with for God knows how long, it hit me that these were no longer things that a ten-year-old and seven-year-old needed. That the things I had kept because ‘they might want to read that again’ or ‘they might have another Hot Wheels phase’ were things I knew deep down inside they’d never look at again.

As I held each book and toy, I will admit that while all of them didn’t spark joy, they did spark a deep wave of longing and some sadness. Uncomfortable questions arose. Had I been too busy with work these past few years? Had I missed out on important moments and conversations with them? Had I been too impatient and short? Too busy trying to maintain order and control? Guilt-ridden questions that serve no one.

I didn’t want to give these books and toys and clothes away. To do so would be to admit that the boys had grown up and would no longer ask me to read Goodnight Moon ‘one more time’.  But, to keep them did not make sense either. After all, I didn’t want to turn into one of the people on the show who would one day have 150 trash bags filled with ‘stuff’ they no longer needed.  After the first few heart-wrenching discards, it became easier, and declutter I did.

While there are many things I miss about having small babies, there are some wonderful things about having ‘big’ kids too. Bad jokes. Long conversations. Phone calls when I’m running late to get home saying ‘don’t worry, I walked the dog. Take your time.’ 

We gave away a modest three bags of books, two bags of clothes and two boxes of toys. There is less to clean up and put away in their room. More time to ‘be present’. Ok. Who am I kidding? More time to yell. More time to lecture. More time to find a new Goodnight Moon. 
Here’s a less-cluttered 2019!

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