28 May 2011

What Goes Around

My mother is a hoarder. Not in a pathologic, star in a reality show on TLC or A&E, you can't find the floor of your house because of the thirty years of Reader's Digest you are "collecting" kind of way. But she does seem to keep things I often wonder about for years and years after I audibly wonder about them to her.

We all accumulate things - both junk and treasures. My mother does this, I think, for several reasons, a combination of emotional attachment to the memories associated with a given object and the frugal New Englander she keeps deep inside. But the most important is momentum, which I believe we all can relate to. It is simply easier to keep than to cull, to set the time aside to carefully go through the piles or boxes or attics full of a lifetime of collectibles and old sweaters and letters and to separate the good from the bad.

When she and my dad packed up to move back to Massachusetts after over twenty years in Western New York she did some of this. Unfortunately those moments of major life changes don't always allow for moments of clarity and reflection. In the stress of the move she probably threw out many things she will regret and kept many things she does not at all need or want. Many, many, many things. The Easter Egg made of sugar that had been broken in half is one I recently got to enjoy and mock her for. And the hand written sign I just discovered pinned to the side of the refrigerator that says "chicken in microwave" from an evening when she had left Daryl some chicken on a plate in the (you guessed it) microwave...what is that for? Does she anticipate a frequent "chicken in microwave" events in future?

Don't think that I'm complaining. Emmaline has enjoyed the collection of plastic drum and maracas that were carted from house to house over the years. She has enjoyed my own carefully preserved stuffed animals. She puts her babies to bed in the cradle I was once rocked in.

And sometime she puts herself to bed in there too.

She has worn the apron I used to paint in, the vest I wore for a while and then used to clothe a very large stuffed panda for almost thirty years. She reads the copy of It's a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day that I signed my name on the first page of. She rides the rocking horse I did, though her choice of accompaniment is somewhat more advanced than mine ever was, since she refuses to rock without the William Tell Overture playing to egg her on.

So I do appreciate the wonderfulness of things. In fact, I have accumulated many things I never thought I would need or want since moving into an actual house as an actual adult. And in living with my mother again, I have learned it is hard to get rid of things. So today, when faced again with the fabulous enormous stuffed bear at Costco, I did not buy it.

Sure it kept Emma entertained and happy for a very long time while Daryl perused the selection of five gallon jars of mayonnaise.

But it's also not necessary. Em has a warm cuddly creature at home to spend time with and we wouldn't want her getting jealous. Then she might chew even more things than she already does.

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