Monday, May 9, 2016

Day 11- When nose-following leads to emotional wallowing.

I have been fully aware of the great need to clean out the garage for years now.  When I enter the garage to find a tool or a jacket I can feel the walls collapsing around me in mockery.  "You will never find what you need here.  You have neglected me.  I therefore cannot help you.  Go your way, and good luck finding anything you are desperately looking for.  Bwahahahahahahhhaaaaaaaaaa!" This demonic cruel garage was of my own making:  the worst kind of enemy.
I summoned all my good sense and the few atoms of ahead-planning left in me in order to conquer this mighty giant.  So I decided to go through the @#$%^ in the garage before the weather gets hot.  I set a date.  And then the nose following part fell in to place:  the neighborhood yard sale was the next day!  I could sift through the garage and sell the detritus to the masses the very next day.  Perfect.  I love it when things come together so neatly.
But I still had to clean out the garage.  The designated day arrived.  I hemmed and hawed and by mid-morning I found myself knee deep in a serious stroll down Memory Lane.  I found ballet shoes, Halloween costumes custom-made by my mother, old coats, magnetic puzzles, the light brite.  I managed to stuff the growing nostalgic longing back down for an hour or two.  Until I found the shirt below.  It may look like a sad wrinkly shirt to you, but that shirt demarcates an era in our family. Notice the missing left sleeve?  That shirt belonged to CC, then 3 years old, who broke her left elbow. In order for her to wear her shirts I had to cut off the left sleeve of everything.  At the time, I remember feeling like I had committed a cardinal sin by chopping off the sleeves with scissors and leaving the resulting edge unfinished.  All of those shirts- with no left sleeves.  But it came to feel downright cute.  And sweet.  And her little cast was purple and she had to stop sucking her fingers while she had the cast because she couldn't get her fingers to her mouth, and holding her in the hospital when it happened was soo hard because they didn't know anything about treating someone so little, and she cried sooooo desperately.  Cue the floodgates.  Right there in the garage, I lost it.  I lost it in an ugly sobbing is-she-laughing-or-does-she-really-cry-like-that  kind of way.  I sobbed.  I wept. My nose leaked.  It was long and ugly and raw.

The shirt that lit the emotional time bomb.

I had to take a break.  A crying break.  And then I found these.  Pictured below are a pair of uniform pants that Esther wore in Kindergarten at The Main Street Academy in College Park, GA.  Her kindergarten year was the first year of The Main Street Academy.  Our community had worked tirelessly to start a charter school.  And it opened in time for Esther to go to kindergarten there.  I remember the relief after years of worrying about where my kids would go to school. Notice the little label with our name on it?  The label has a story too.  In an effort to be a more organized mom now that I had 2 kids in school, I set out on a quest to find the perfect labels for everything.  They had to be washable, waterproof, kid-proof etc.  I proudly placed the labels on lunch boxes, uniforms, backpacks and sandwich containers.  Finding the right labels was an accomplishment in itself for me at the time.  

At this point, I couldn't stop crying.  I had to reach out
 to the hubs and my own mother to process my flood of feelings.  
With the distance of a couple of days I think I understand it a little better.  My tears welled up from sweet memories, from longing for things that will never happen again, and from the shock of the passage of time.  But the tears came from another place too.  I know now that I was mourning the mother that I was then.  I mourned her exhaustion, her determination, her ability to make something good from very little.  I mourned her naivete, her youth and her mistakes.  
Of course, I am still me.  I am still the mother of Robert, Esther and CC.  But the baby making chapter of my life is closed.  The kids-at-home chapter of my life is done.  And I think that mourning the earlier me might just make a better 2016 me.  Maybe.  I hope.  

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