More Space Clearing
Last week I wrote about clearing the clutter out of our lives. I’m still amazed by the letters and stories people have shared since. A friend said her junk really made her sick and she didn’t sleep well until she got rid of all the stuff she stored under her bed. I can’t imagine having anything but the floor under my bed, but I’m sure she’s not the only one. That can’t be healthy and I’m glad she had the sense and the will to clear it.
These stories inspired me to start the week by clearing the children’s toy shelves. We had talked about it before so when I told the boys Monday was the day, they were ready. The minute I taped together a box, my older son sequestered it and sock-skated down the hallway. Before I knew it, all kinds of noises were coming out of his room. Plunk. Thud. Clank. As soon as his little brother joined him, there was even more. I decided some motherly guidance might be helpful.
I got there a few minutes late. They were throwing everything into the boxes with no order whatsoever. I usually like to put pieces together in bags or boxes so that future owners don’t have to deal with too much mystery, but the boys beat me to it. For once, I decided to loosen up and get into the spirit of simply letting go. I did set some minor rules though: trash is never given away, pencils mama can use (aha…that’s where they all went) and rubberbands, too. From there we got somewhat organized. Their gazillion marbles were divided. One bag went to the usual Bantay Bata box. Another was going to the Prado Farms children, along with the Waldorf-inspired toys.
My children were on a roll. They were giving up new toys with such ease and abandon, that my initial reaction was to stop them with my own creeping sentimentality: papa just gave you that, mama made this, tita found that in a special place just for you. But I held back. That’s how we learn to hoard. When we assign too much emotion on material possessions, they turn heavy and difficult to part with, even when they are no longer practical or relevant in our lives. So I let them, feeling more and more proud that my children were learning a most valuable skill indeed.
I won’t deny that part of me felt money going down the drain when the closet emptied and the boxes overflowed, but I quickly realized that the cost of something doesn’t really translate to its true value. Once something loses its usefulness in a life, what is its value? All it will do is keep you emotionally stuck in a place or time. It wasn’t like I was throwing things away. The toys were going to new owners. Other children would enjoy them. That’s value.
At dinner, the boys excitedly talked about the clothes they were giving away the next day. My little one said he was giving away all, all his clothes. Though he has one of the cutest bottoms in the world, I had to tell him it was a good idea to keep some. As soon as they were ready for bed, they started going through their books and making piles on the floor of those they felt ready to part with. I said it was rest time and we would continue tomorrow.
We do this every year, but this is the first time I’ve seen my children go through the routine with such willingness and joy. Dinner almost went cold as they didn’t want to stop working. I laughingly told a friend they caught the bug from me. I have been space clearing with such zeal the last few weeks and have been feeling lighter with every box. I’m sure they sense it.
That evening as I put them to bed, my little boy whispered, “I’m excited about Christmas”. “Me too,” his brother said softly. I squeezed their hands silently in the dark and let their words fill the room. We had begun creating the space for the gifts of the season to enter. In my children, I felt the warmth that fills the soul when one has learned to give freely. The gesture of giving connected them to the spirit of Christmas–just like that. It was something they experienced very deeply for themselves. Many days later I am still in awe of it. I am grateful for my two little teachers who continue to unfurl the petals of my soul with their natural wisdom.
As their empty toy shelves smiled at me that late afternoon, I took the liberty of packing two Santa caps I had unearthed from storage. They were going, too. “Wait, Mama. Can we keep those?” It was the only time they stopped to ask to keep anything. Why not? They quickly put them on, had a giggle, and then helped to push the heavy boxes out. It was strange seeing two little Pinoy boys wearing such western Santa caps, but I didn’t have the heart to take them. They are two incredibly generous boys. They could certainly keep those caps–at least until the next round of space clearing.