They’re everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. In a container under my bed. In a shoe box on a shelf in the closet. Hanging in various places all over the house. On the fridge. In the attic. In my jewelry box. In guestroom closets. In blanket boxes and hope chests all around the house. On my night stand. IN my night stand. In a basket NEXT to my night stand. And for the sake of this blog post and your sanity, I won’t name the many other places they are.
I know this makes me sound like a hoarder, no matter what it is I am talking about. But these particular things I have found are my pleasure to hoard – all the things The Kiddos have made for me, written for me, drawn for me, or given to me that have managed or stay intact.
Each one has efficacy in its own way; value and worth beyond all measure. They stem from the crayon kindergarten scribble to letters in their own adult penmanship. I have a wire cross that looks like lace that was purchased for me at Summer Church Camp. I have a red teddy bear with a heart on one foot and on the other foot is embroidered the year 2003, even though it was given to me in 2004. I have a heart-shaped ceramic box that was painted for me that I’ve dropped, broken, and super-glued back together four times. I have about a thousand construction paper cards and poems. Could be more.
I even have things I’ve saved from their childhood that weren’t given to me, but at some point belonged to them, like one baby shoe. Or their teeth. All their baby teeth. ALL OF THEM. They’re in a tooth-shaped box in the bottom drawer of my jewelry box. Don’t judge me.
I can’t say I was the best mom that ever was. I mean, at the end of each day – even in their adulthood – I ask myself before I pray for them if I’ve done the very best I could, even if I fell short. The answer has always emphatically been yes. Some days were a home run, and some days I should have stayed in the dugout. But I was always a team mom.
Somehow, I knew that part of my living legacy – and the one I leave behind – would have a more profound effect on both them and me by having these things to look upon. It could be the future: “I’m going to have these twenty years from now to look at and show them and we can smile and laugh about it together.” It could be the present: “Let’s take a selfie and post it to my social media scrapbook.” Or it could be the past: “I can’t believe you drew this for me when you were five!”
Oh I know they probably won’t keep all this stuff after I’m gone. But when they’re going through this landfill time capsule, they WILL smile. They WILL know how much they meant to me. They WILL know I was crazy kookamunga, but all in the name of love.
When they were small, I didn’t understand pursuing them. I just knew I loved them, and that their health and well-being depended on me. I knew I wanted them to be grounded, well-rounded, kind, successful humans. But looking back, I think keeping these things was a subconscious pursuit. As they are adulting so hard now, I know being a mom doesn’t ever stop, but it changes as they do. I mega-pursue them now and try to insert myself into their lives in such a way that isn’t obnoxious (I said I TRY) and that lets them know how much they mean to me, too.
I love waking up every morning and seeing the folded note on my night stand marked “mom” that The DAUGHTS gave me the day The GRAND Daughts was born. I love opening my jewelry box and seeing the tiny pink plastic ring Schmooly-Wooly found in the grass one day that he decided he would hand over to me to have as though he were little, even though he was grown and already a part of this family. I love walking by the lopsided hand-sewn pillow in my room that The Sonster made when he was small and away at camp. I love the delicate string tied around my master-bathroom closet door that The Daughts-In-Law tied a Christmas gift up with. I love the patch from The Kid’s Army uniform he gave to me one day at lunch. I love all of it – and I love all of THEM. And they are amazing humans that love me right back.
Yes, I know we can’t take “things” with us when we die. I know that items of value won’t go to the grave with us. But the things I’m talking about are daily PRICELESS reminders of how hard I work to find joy in the hard times life can bring us; pictures of the blessings that are directly in front of us; reminders of how hard I’ve worked to be the best mom I can be, even when I fall short.
I don’t get mad if I don’t get expensive gifts on Mother’s Day. I don’t get upset if every single thing doesn’t go just perfectly. I don’t even get sad if I have work I have to get done that day. I try to turn that day into a reminder to look for even better ways to show my gratefulness and adoration for the blessings that are The Kiddos; ways to ensure we stand united; ways to leave a legacy of faith, hope, and LOVE.
And I also look for more places to hoard all the Mommy Memories that will be coming my way……