Children accumulate multitudes. I intentionally and with restraint rarely buy my kids toys. First of all, they have plenty. They have always received many gifts from many people and are the recipients of many second hand toys of friends and relatives. Somehow, we are still bulging at the seams.
Then there is the paper and art work and books. I am a book lover and have not cleaned out their books EVER. My oldest is eleven. Thats eleven years worth of accumulating children’s books. I always said that we were saving them for the youngest. I would not let them get rid of any books, even if all the pop ups were torn out, some pages ripped, bindings falling apart. I don’t have any of my childhood favorite books, and I wanted to make sure theirs were saved.
So, last weekend I cleaned out shelves and shelves and boxes and closets of all of our children’s books. I threw away (horrors!) the books whose bindings were done and that were falling apart. I saved a few of the baby/toddler favorite books for each child. (Honestly, sadly, I can’t remember any many of my third child’s favorites, so I made up some that were her favorites.) We saved a bag of good ones for the new nephew/niece coming in March. We fixed up their bookshelves with favorite sections - Diary of a Wimpy Kid, American Girl Series, World’s Record Book, Captain Underpants, and Baby Mouse. And I made sections for two of them with “just right” reading books that they could turn to when needed. And I have about 10 bags of books to donate.
Guess what happened? They want to read all the time. They love how neat the shelves are, and now the shelves seem like they are for them, not a bunch of younger kids.
You see, I was holding on to a time and years that have passed. I thought I could stop time by keeping these favorites around. Some of the ones that I really liked didn’t become their favorites. I held on to the hope that they could love what I loved. While doing this, I was holding them back from finding their passions.
We are still Taking Back the Family. We are cleaning, purging, making room for who we are now, not the family we were several years ago. We are making spaces and steps for growth for all of us. Even if their childhood looks different from the way mine was or what I had pictured for them.
I wished I had read more to them. We read all the time, every night at least. Often several times a day. I loved reading to them and wanted more of that time back.
Now they read things that I don’t read and it is hard to find a book that all four of us want to read. It is also hard to find time for all of us to read together - with homework and even the limited activities we have now.
Since the purge, my little ones have been asking for story books that we can read in one sitting again. Sometimes they let me read, but often they want to read. The cool nights have come and we are spending many nights reading by the fire before bed.
These are, still, the good ‘ole days.