Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Throw Out the Artwork

Yes, that is what Little Cuter emailed me this morning: Throw out the artwork.

Allow me to explain.  In preparation for her upcoming nuptials, hosted in our humble abode, I have been purging our personal spaces of detritus.  I have been cleansing with a vengeance.

It's not cleaning, per se.  I am sweeping up major piles of dust and debris, but I'm saving the actual washing of the garage floor for Ernie and his big strong guys.  I'm old.  I'm achy.  I'm lazy.  I'll pay.

But there are pieces of the task which cannot be accomplished by hired help.  Decisions must be made.  If I let TBG get involved, there will be nothing at all for my grandchildren to discover about their parents; he'd toss it all.  I'm closer to him than he thinks on this issue; what I save I save because I don't want the children to be angry if I dispose of a treasure they thought was safe at home.

Big Cuter was horrified that the photo album I created after his Grand Tour of Europe was not where he thought it would be.  No, dear, it was not sitting out on the shelf in the room in this house which is nominally yours but in which you have slept perhaps 50 nights in six years.  I had no idea that you would need it when I packed up the last room I moved you into and out of while your actual residence was elsewhere. 

Moms make mistakes, and apparently stashing his memories in a box with other childhood trinkets was a big one.  It reappeared when he was home for the holidays and we went through the boxes of books and toys and magazines and other relics of the days when he and his stuff were strewn over the floor.  He always knew where everything was, even if no one else could walk without damaging herself or his things. 

The kind of cleansing upon which I have embarked requires a ruthless dedication to the ultimate objective - less.  We had friends in Marin whose children could put something on their bulletin boards only if they removed something else.  Clothes were replaced, one by one, rather than added upon without thought.  If something came in, something went out.  The mom's entire childhood is contained in one, slightly oversized, shoebox.

I can't live like that.

On the other hand, I can't stand all these boxes.  They line the walls of the garage, marked with the kids' names and the contents within - books, collections, video games, stuff.  Four of the boxes contain the photo albums which don't fit on G'ma's shelves at the pod-castle.  The rest belong to my young adults.  I don't mind holding on to them for now, if what is inside is worth saving.  Yesterday, it was Little Cuter's turn to have her belongings put under the microscope.

I found soccer trophies of all sizes and descriptions; she definitely wants to keep them all.  I found trolls dressed, as she rightly pointed out, in clothes made by her babysitter and her mommy and her very much younger self.  Those she will save for her own children.  There's a polar fleece vest from the last soccer team she coached, girls who loved her so much there were always one or two of them hanging from her arms or her waist or her neck.  It, too, is a keeper.

And then there's the artwork.  I struggled with that this week just as I did when she was first creating the masterpieces.  There's a hidden talent lurking beneath the surface, but sports and friends competed for time and an evil photography teacher quashed her teenage spirit.  I remember the pride she felt when she presented me with the yarn self-portrait.  It was garish then and it is garish now but it's my girl.... by my girl.  How can I throw it away? 

How?  Simply by talking to the sanest, most reasonable human being I know - the artist herself.  Without batting an eyelash, without missing a beat, after listening to me brag about moving boxes and clearing out space she gave me permission to throw out the artwork

If she's not going to be sentimental about it, then neither am I. 


  1. Gosh, this is the conundrum I'm constantly facing. What to keep vs. what to throw out. I'm devious about it too. I have to be. My ten and seven year-olds will take artwork out of the recycle bin if they see it. I keep the exceptional artwork, but not everything. Even at this age, I would have tons of paper. I hate clutter. So when I'm putting the items in the trash that we do not need to keep in the box I have for each of them, I literally hide it under recyclables. I know... it's really mean. But it keeps me sane and what they don't know, won't hurt them. It's not like I don't keep lots of stuff either. They take it so personally when they see it in the recycle bin. "Mom, I made that!. Why are you getting rid of it"?

    If Little Cuter is giving you permission, that's great. :)

    Happy purging! (OK, that didn't sound right, but you know what I mean). LOL.

    Megan xxx

  2. Actually, Megan, you inspired me to undertake this task; you commented that you love how it feels to have a purged space and I caught the cleansing bug!

  3. I hope that you do do take photos of some of it first! I agree with the premise of "if she's not going to be sentimental about it neither am I" ... but if it pains you even a little to throw out a particular item, take a photo of it. Photos take up a lot less room, especially if stored on the computer instead of in a physical album.

  4. AB, I will have to admit though I was very nostalgic going through all of the clothes last week. I found a lot of baby clothes in bins. I felt sad for a few minutes and then regrouped and thought of that space and how empty it is now. That was a great feeling. ;)

    You will like being more organized and having the space.


  5. Ok, I will be the first to admit that I am as sentimental as they come. I have boxes of artwork and trophies and school papers. I saved the most meaningful items and condensed them. Somethings I just can't bear to let go. However, when my oldest two children bought their own homes, I hauled the boxes to their houses. They can store them or throw them away and I just don't want to know. I have been making this slideshow for the rehearsal dinner viewing, I have shed some happy tears just remembering. I just have to say that I think without a doubt that we will have the most beautiful grandchildren in the world!!!!

  6. I now have that rule of something must go before something can come in. I've had it since before I retired. Kept my coworkers from giving me anything that couldn't be used in the studio apartment in San Francisco. I really have trouble with the rule when I find a pair of shoes I just have to have. But, what shoes will I throw out? That keeps me moving right on past the shoe table.

  7. Well THIS certainly struck a nerve! I received those same boxes from G'ma when we bought our first house, MOTG :) G'ma also says she is "divesting not investing so please, take something", dkzody :) Pictures are a great idea, Forest Girl; then I can enjoy Megan's promise of feeling good.

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