Damn the excuses, this past Thanksgiving holiday weekend I was determined to get a project done that I had been putting off for years. With the gift giving season rapidly approaching, it was time to organize the mess in the basement which once held promise and hope of a charming, model home play room, now reduced to a bargain basement receptacle of once-loved toys, games and shiny objects, even if the love only lasted milliseconds.
How apropos that I stumbled upon an old Woody doll from Toy Story, face marked with a sharpie, clothes tattered and head pointing backwards — how my older son loved that movie. When he was 2 years old, our daycare provider gave him Jesse to complete his Toy Story collection. If we didn’t feel lucky to have such a caring woman to watch our 2 year old, this surprise clinched it. As I slowly pulled out the Toy Story memorabilia, it reminded me of the moment when I felt I wanted to have another baby. I started holding onto clothes and toys that could be recycled. Unfortunately, all the infant clothes and toys, except for a few items of sentimental value, were long donated and hauled away. For the first two years of my first-born’s life, I swore up and down that an only child was the way to go. I distinctively remember how my maternal urges surfaced as I longed to hold a baby for the first time and then once again.
Today however, those feelings are taking a much appreciated dirt nap. I am positively not going to procreate again. Two boys later and the joke is most certainly on me. Where I once hesitated to give a book away that was a favorite bedtime story for at least a week, the thought of letting go is now the stuff in which endorphins explode like fireworks in my mind coupled with a sense of tranquility and calm. With every toy I separate into 3 piles — the garbage pile, the donate pile and the keep pile, a huge gush of liberation rushes over me and I am downright giddy. The only pile that threatens to take away from these beautiful moments is the “keep” pile in which I keep trying to negotiate with my older son to be on board my cleansing euphoria. He is surprisingly agreeable and keeps saying, “Yeah, you’re probably right. Toss it.” I smile, my glowing pride expressed with a kiss on top of his head.
Cleaning out a basement has never been so, well, orgasmic. My older son takes his responsibility very seriously as he inspects toys for donating possibilities, to make sure it is in respectable enough shape. He says, “I think somebody might enjoy this.”
“Does your brother still play with it?” I ask.
“No,” he replies, “I’ve been putting aside the stuff he still plays with.”
What a guy.
I am grateful for his help. I have no idea how to decipher their trash from treasure.
Meanwhile, my almost 4 year old comes down and it’s an early Christmas for him as he starts to discover items in the organized, “keep” piles that he didn’t know existed. It’s like his very own toy store without the long lines. His Thomas the Train toys are organized into one giant tub and all the stuffed animals in another. He rediscovers the kitchenette with plastic hot dogs and spaghetti stored conveniently in its sink. All the cars are now in a designated car drawer and dead bugs at the bottom have been given a proper Glad bag burial.
I am treated to a walk down memory lane as I start to get to the stuff I did keep when I thought I wouldn’t have another child. The rattles and the teethers. It’s hard to believe that these were purchased over 8 years ago. I remember waving these objects around a crying baby, hoping and praying one would have the power of a magical wand. Those that held such power were the ones that are now swimming in a sea of decapitated action figures, broken happy meal toys and zoo animals with gnawed ears, compliments of the family dog.
Throwing this clutter away feels like getting rid of emotional baggage. The fact that it’s been there for years make me question my motivation and state of mind. Was I in denial that the excess of junky toys was a problem? Did I secretly believe that throwing all things that were below the younger ones age level was a full admission that I was completely done with that chapter of my life? And, if that was the case, then why didn’t I do this a long time ago, because today, I am at such peace knowing that that chapter is closed. In fact, I am ready to celebrate! Out with the old, in with the new. In fact, it’s so addictive, I have already scheduled my next break to go through all that 90s nail polish under my bathroom sink. If it isn’t being used, or paying me rent, or related to me, then it needs to find itself to the nearest landfill.