Book Body Soul contributes article “Spring Cleaning” on Mothering in the Middle
It’s Spring! Alleluia!
I know it’s here because I have heard the peepers at night proclaiming their joy from being stuck in the frozen tundra.
The stillness has suddenly been broken by birds singing in the early morning. There have also been sightings of color to break the barren landscape with the arrival of a crocus or daffodil.
Finally, the smell of spring whiffs past my nose in the form of that indistinguishable first spring rain smell, which is a heady, glorious scent. It is the time for new beginnings. Now is the time to spring ahead with new opportunities as the season changes, too.
In the spirit of spring, I began to think about newness, and then I began to think about cleaning. The cleaning out of the old to make way for the new clothes or shoes! I should clean my closet and bureau drawers. Then I thought, No, go deeper … a cleanse of the body and soul. I would start meditating again, seriously. Perhaps a new workout program would be good, too … and why not add a cleanse fast! Yes, these were the things I was going to embrace. A rebirth of myself! How appropriate for springing ahead. I sighed, “No.” I knew I could go even deeper. It was. The. Basement.
Panic descended over me as I walked down the stairs. The toy closet was my destination. I could venture into the unfinished basement, which really couldn’t be accomplished alone. I knew a team of brave souls would need to go in there with me. The toy closet should be easy. It is time to move forward, I thought. I’m such a saver; you would have thought I grew up in the Depression with all the things I save, “just in case.” Just in case my girls babysit, just in case my friends with younger children come to visit …
“Why do I think it is my responsibility?” I asked to no one there.
“Move on!” I said to myself.
In order to get to the toy closet, I passed the sideboard. The drawers are filled with VHS videotapes and books. Hundreds of Disney movies and books by Dr. Seuss and Beatrice Potter are waiting to come alive again. In the corner sits a basket of my old Nancy Drew books. This basket drew me in, and I recalled seeing my daughter snuggled into her chair as a young girl, head bent and transported to another location. This image shape shifts. Surprisingly, I also saw myself as a tall girl with long legs tucked underneath her and a pile of Nancy Drews next to me as I read The Mystery of the 99 Steps. The summer days flew by as I accompanied Nancy on her adventures. What fun it was for me to relive Nancy’s stories with my daughter as we solved the mystery together.
In the other corner sits a dust covered PlayStation, game controls, two dance pads, and guitar hero. I then passed the open bookshelf that started calling my name. The photo albums spoke out and said, “Lori look at the photos! Look at your babies, look at how young you used to look, look at your husband without a head of white hair, look at the last pictures you have of your dad.” Ahhh! I snap out of my trance when I trip over a milk crate of trophies that have somehow been place in the middle of the room.
I opened the toy closet’s bi-fold doors and waited for the toys and memories to fall out. The first thing I saw was Pretty Pretty Princess. Oh, how I loved to play that game with my girls. They especially loved when Daddy would play along, too. I can hear the peals of laughter when my husband had on the earrings, necklace, and rings, “Daddy you look so silly,” my daughter would say.
As I reach for it, a Barrel of Monkeys, Trouble, and Tiddlywinks tumble to my feet.
With a deep breath of determination, I set out to pick up, clean out, and move forward; yet with every few steps forward, I moved a step back. Breathe, I thought, it’s like meditation. As thoughts flood your brain, accept them and then refocus. So, that is how I cleared out the toy closet and how I cleared my mind to move ahead. I threw away the terrarium kit, Trouble, Hands Down, Pretty Pretty Princess, and many other games and just plain junk. I found the art box filled with the dried markers, broken crayons, and the sketchbook with Julia’s drawings of a super hero and of Megan’s journal of our trip to Florida. I became ruthless in my quest for cleaning. All of it went.
I made a pile to throw away, a pile to donate, and a pile to keep. There were some things I just couldn’t throw away yet … or ever. Who doesn’t love a good game of Twister or Pick Up Sticks, even as adults? I refuse to throw away my Nancy Drew Books, hoping to pass them along to a grand daughter someday so we can solve the mystery together.
With the closet cleaned, cleared, and boxes labeled, I closed the door with a wonderful sense of accomplishment. I should have done this sooner, I thought. It was time to accept my stage in life and let go of the things from the past because I still have the memories. I can never forget my Pretty Pretty Princess.
As I walked through the piles in the basement awaiting my husband’s help in removing them, a sense of calmness settled in my soul. This is the next step as I move forward.
As I walked up the stairs, I glanced to my left to look at the closed closet. The whispers of the past started calling me from the pile of discarded toys, but it was okay because I knew the memories and pictures were lodged deeply in my heart.
“Daddy, you look so silly,” I heard from my heart.
Smiling, I climbed the final steps into the light.
This appeared on Mothering in the Middle.