A few times this weekend, I heard a combination of the following:
Column A: You / Someone
Column B: take / hold onto / keep
Column C: it’s nice / it’s engraved / you might use it / your children might like to have it.
I developed a mantra: Take it or toss it. It is not going home with me.
I’m not an unsentimental person. I have all my old prom photos (so did Mom) and all the newspaper clippings from the FHS Marching Band trip to London and France my senior year (so did Mom) and ticket stubs from Orioles games (Mom…well, how about two ticket stubs for her run at a national pageant title?). I have the cork from the champagne G and I drank last year, celebrating his California bar success and our reunion.
I brought home more than I wanted to, even with my mantra. I’d planned on the writing desk and my old highchair, but I’d forgotten about the rocking horse my uncle and godfather made for me. I’d planned on bringing home Mom’s china, but I hadn’t planned on bringing home even a handful of wineglasses…and I did. At the last minute, too, I found one of those old juice pitchers from the 70s — you know, the pear-shaped glass one with bright oranges and lime wedges on the outside? I brought that, too.
I refuse to take on inherited clutter. My mother had a home and lived in it for most of 30+ years — what she kept around her was her choice and undoubtedly a comfort to her, particularly in the moments when she knew at least one of us would always live far away.
But. As a person in my own right, and as an adult, I get to decide what things to keep around me, and what things are a comfort to me in my home. Mom had some nice furniture, sure, but I have no need of it and it’s not my style…not enough to make room for it in my home. I am also not in my “forever home” (to borrow a phrase from the animal shelters) — every non-consumable item that comes into my home is just one more decision I’ll have to make the next time I move.
If furniture or trinkets are not my style and don’t bring me the kind of joy they brought my mother, there is no balance to the stress of that delayed decision. And that decision is delayed mainly by guilt, isn’t it?
“It was important enough to her to keep, so it should be important to me. If it’s not, there is something wrong with me.”
Bullshit. I’m not Mom, I’m not going to be, I shouldn’t have to be, and there’s nothing wrong with just being me.
That’s bigger than ticket stubs and Christmas ornaments. I know. And guilt plays such a huge role in family dynamics all over the world. We’re taught to honor our mother and our father. For what it’s worth? That does not necessarily extend to their stuff.
Not even if it’s engraved with their initials.
Maybe it’s because I’ve moved more often than everyone in Mom’s family put together (and farther, certainly). I’ve had to pare down because I’ve had to pack and load and transport and unpack. I’ve had to get a little slicey-dicey about what’s important enough to deserve closet space, and I refuse to pay for extra storage.
Filed under: Conspicuous consumption, If it's not one thing, it's your mother | 9 Comments »