Spring cleaning is hard for me. I have a tendency to linger over items instead of ruthlessly deciding if it’s to be thrown out, recycled, sold or saved.
Every item brings back a flood of nostalgia that immediately causes me to pause. Spring cleaning takes forever. I can’t let go.
There’s a box in my youngest son’s closet filled with our favorite baby clothes. The race car onesie, the first tiny ball hat, a favorite fuzzy sleeper. Are we saving them for a grandchild? Maybe. More likely we’re just saving them to remember how truly tiny the boys once were. It was hard limiting it to one box.
So now that our youngest is 4, we’re going through the playroom books and toys and doing another cull. Their torn corners, ripped bindings, and scribbled pages are signs of the love they gave our boys, but they’ve moved beyond baby board books and, well, it’s time for them to move on.
And it took me forever to sort through a pile of about 40 or 50 old books. I couldn’t just pick up and sort. I had to reread every. single. one. of them.
The First 100 Machines is the first book I remember Zacharie “reading.” You can see it in the stack on the bookshelf below right when Zacharie was just a year old.
I paused over every page one last time. Echoing in my mind was Zacharie deliberately saying the syllables “Track turrr.” I remembered how he got excited to see the helicopter and eagerly called it a “heli-copy.” I could see him pulling his arm in the air to tug on a imaginary train whistle and sing “Choo choo!”
The peekaboo book kept both our kids entertained when they were toddling infants and we took the opportunity to travel longer flights across the continents. We got to know the kids in the books so well, we gave them names and made up backstories. That’s Super Tony at the top left, his cape no longer able to flap in the wind. It was long ripped, chewed, or torn off.
It’s funny that I feel sadness at having to take some books to a swap or out to the trash. I never feel that way when I delete apps from my phone.
I deleted old baby apps with no sentimental hesitation. I didn’t back one up in a baby folder or thumb drive. But the books. Those chewed on, drooled on, ripped and worn books. I paused over every page one last time.
That color book missing a fish’s head at the top was flipped through while they lay on their back getting yet another diaper changed.
But the diapers are done. The board books too and another chapter of our lives as parents is closing.
As my wife remarks as our boys move quickly from toddling preschoolers to bona fide kids … “wow, that seems like a lifetime ago.”
Images via DadCAMP