Dozens of plastic tubs filled with baby clothes and wedding china and graduate school textbooks fill each of the three rooms. It’s my dirty, not-so-little single mama secret that I’ve only revealed to a few people.
I can rationalize it — I took possession (per a legal division of assets) of nearly everything in my overrun marital apartment. It wasn’t the best of times, and beyond that, I felt intense responsibility for handling all of the business of closing up the life that took place in those four walls. I thought it was important to save mementos for my son. I thought I might one day need an ice-cream maker. I wanted to believe I would have another baby. So all of it came with me, and was tucked (and stacked and shoved) into the basement.
Several times a week when I am down there doing laundry, I strategize how to clean out that old life. A few times a year, I take a huge purge pile of old clothes and books and broken picture frames to a donation box. When a friend gets engaged, I joke that she can register in my basement, or just help herself to incomplete sets of crystal champagne flutes. And often, I think about where to begin in freeing all of the boxes in that dungeon.
I have moved on in a thousand healthy, happy ways. But something has kept me stuck. Or rather, has me stuck to the stuff. I have dealt with this past in court, in counseling, in relationships, internally. I just do not want to deal with it anymore. So obviously, I resist.
The corner that is full of the most conflict and emotion is the one that houses every single baby item Lil E has ever worn. Every onesie, each itty-bitty pair of undies, every old winter coat — everything from size NB to 7 is down there.
My rational mind says to release it, to donate it to needy families, to offer it up to outfit a friend’s child for the first six or seven years of his life. But my heart clings to the idea that maybe, possibly, hopefully, one day I will need it all again.
There is much more therapy on my calendar, clearly. There is a Costco-sized box of extra-large sized garbage bags to fill and unload.
Upstairs, in the safety and relative calm of my apartment, I opened a drawer the other night where we keep Lil E’s mealtime things at his reach. Inside the drawer is a puzzle of light-up mugs and IKEA bowls and water bottles. There is also a stash of sippy cups and a container of valves.
Those sippy cups which, admittedly we have relied upon for nighttime drinks since my son transitioned from waking to nurse to waking to guzzle water, have served a good purpose. But now he is eight and a water bottle at the ready on the night stand will certainly suffice. It’s time to let go of the sippy cups.
I pulled them all out of the drawer and put them a Ziploc to prep them for donation.
“Hey, I am getting rid of the sippy cups,” I called out to Lil E as he passed by.
“Great,” he said, not caring a lick. “Why don’t you just recycle them?”
Yeah, I thought. Why don’t I? Why do I make this junk so hard?
No one will miss the sippy cups, making this the polar opposite of my experience in offing the pacifier and bottles — all of which are probably tucked in a tub in the….yeah, you guessed it.
Speaking of the basement, it’s time to really dig in down there, I know.
Could this sippy-cup recycling be the baby step I need? Or will it take a much bigger push to get me down those stairs? I’m not sure. Yet.
Join the circle of parental hoarding support: Beyond heirlooms and milestone-markers, what baby stuff are you hanging on to?
Read more of Jessica’s adventures as a single mom in the city at Sassafrass.
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