I read a lovely post the other week by the fabulous Learner Mother. It was about September and her new year urges to get her life sorted and ultra organised. I recognised these feelings. It’s partly a symptom of working in Higher Ed. I always operate according to two years at any one time: the calendar year and the academic year. And for me the academic year has always felt more New Yearsy (that is absolutely a word, before you go running to the dictionary…) than New Year itself. It’s something to do with the weather being better and not feeling weighted down by all those mince pies, I think. In September I want to plan, file, spring clean, declutter and otherwise sort my life out.
This year is no exception. But I admit, I’ve hit a brick wall.
Decluttering. It’s not something I usually have a problem with. I don’t think of myself as being a hoarder (we don’t have the space at home for me to be for a start) or a procrastinator, but I have become expert at both recently.
You see, I kept everything after Sissyboo was born for the second child I hoped we’d have one day. When the 20-week scan revealed most of her clothes wouldn’t be suitable for number 2, I piled them up (keeping only a few things with sentimental value) and sold them at a nearly new sale. (Over a year later I finally got round to spending the money I made then on a family ticket to the Harry Potter Experience next month.)
But I kept all her toys. Not being a fan of the insidious way toys can be gendered I even kept what we fondly know as the Princess mobile, a mini-tractor type thing she was bought by a relative at 12 months, covered in Disney princess stickers and bright pink for him to play on. And then there was all the equipment. The car seats, the baths, the travel system and buggy and so on.
We’ve put lots of it to good use. And I love seeing Boo play with his sister’s rattles and books and shape sorters. But it has been frankly heartbreaking to see how much he can’t use and may never be able to use.
The Bumbo never provided him with enough support. After weeks of trying him in it for a few minutes a day I knew his low trunk tone was not something he was going to quickly grow out of. The infant reclining plastic bath seat started to produce what I now understand to be some sensory issues (he startled every time we put him in it) and now he’s too big to fit in it anyway, but can’t use the upright swivel bath seat Sissyboo moved onto next because it relies on kids being able to sit independently.
Same goes for her cute highchair, the buggy that hopefully soon will be replaced by an adapted buggy with wheelchair services. Oh and the car seats, that don’t support him adequately, and which we have now replaced at great cost with a fabulous Scandinavian contraption that I defy Houdini to find a way out of. I don’t think he’s destined to scoot off with Snow White on the Princess mobile any time soon either.
But I still have all this stuff. And it is useless to us and to Boo. I need to get rid of it. But I haven’t been able to yet, despite it taking up so much room in our house. It’s partly because life is manically busy most of the time, but I know there’s a deeper reason.
You see, I know that in getting rid of all this stuff I am saying goodbye forever to the childhood I had imagined for my son. The conventional upbringing, the normalcy I wanted for him. And it breaks my heart. For him. For us.
But something happened over the past week. I don’t know whether it’s September and my New Yearsy (I told you, it IS a word) feelings, a shift in mental gear or what, but I have started to take pictures of all this equipment to sell on Ebay.
Because I realised that this stuff is just that: stuff. Yes, I have happy memories of Sissyboo using it, but keeping it for Boo is only causing unhappiness by reminding me what he can’t do. I write so often on this blog about how all I want is for people to accept Boo for the beautiful person he is, and in keeping hold of all this stuff I realise am being hypocritical. I need to accept that we need to support Boo (literally and figuratively) as best we can and clinging on to things that might make him seem normal if only he could use them is failing to do that.
Now I’ve come to that realisation, I feel happier. And I think I’ll feel happier still when the stuff is out of the house. He doesn’t need it. We don’t need it.
So out with the old and in with the new. I’m not saying goodbye to one kind of life (actually, we said our farewells a very long time ago now), I’m saying hello and welcome to the life we have. And it is a good one. A really good one.