This past weekend, my daughter had a sleepover at her grandparents’ house.  She had a ball and so did her Mimi and Happy.  This time away from her gave my husband and me an opportunity to do something we never get to do.  I know what you’re thinking but get your mind out of the gutter!  I’m talking about cleaning out Zoey’s huge assortment of junk toys.

It was so nice to be able to sort through 5 years’ worth of toys, books and puzzles with tiny pieces without her taking everything out and playing with them as we worked.  And not hearing her shouts of “That’s my COLLECTION!” as we tossed handfuls of rocks and various lumps of lint-covered Wiki Stix made it easier too, let me tell ya.  I swear, Barbie shoes are like socks in the dryer—you start with two but one always seems to disappear.  And where did all these McDonald’s toys come from?  We don’t even go to McDonald’s!  In the end, we donated some of the nicer items but ended up with 3 huge bags of garbage.  Everything that’s left has a purpose, has all its parts and will actually be played with.  It felt great to reclaim our living room, like the whole space was lighter and unburdened.  But it was also bittersweet.

As we sorted through bins and piles of toys, we kept reminiscing about the age she was when she last played with some of them and how much fun it was to play with her at that stage.  There were still baby rattles in all this stuff so we were taking a trip in the way back machine for sure!  I’m not really a sentimental person so I am always caught off guard by the emotions the memories of my big girl as a baby invoke in me.  They sneak up on me sometimes.   She has made me sentimental.

The most difficult part of purging her baby toys was not the actual getting them out of the house.  It was the fear that if I remove this little toy from our home that I would remove the memory from my brain.  I know that’s not a rational fear but it stems from having a horrible memory.  It’s so bad that I forget to write things down so I don’t forget them.  My husband and I used to watch one of those house cleaning reality shows where the host always asked the homeowners if they were holding on to the memory or to the stuff.  The stuff was just getting in the way of their ability to make new memories.  This weekend, I realized that I don’t need the stuff to keep the memories.  I’ve got the real deal right in front of me: Zoey herself.

She is living, breathing enthusiasm.  Every day is a new adventure.  Sometimes it’s a storm, other times it’s the rainbow.  This morning, she sang at the top of her lungs all the way to daycare.  I will do everything I can to burn that memory into my brain.  Thank goodness for the camera on my phone.  I’m doing my best to keep the memories but keep the stuff to a minimum.  At least when it comes to her stuff.  Now getting rid of my stuff, THAT’S another thing.

Memory #19,439.  Saved.

Memory #129,439. Saved.

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