Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring Cleaning and Fairies

We were spring cleaning over the kids second week of spring break. Spring cleaning like we have never done. My youngest daughter is six and I finally was able to give away their little tunnels they used to crawl through and their toddler rocking chair (although not without tears rolling down my face as I cleaned and dusted it for its new owner.)
The only way I can clean like this is to enter a zone, a zone where all I do is focus on the project, fast and furious.  I try my best not to feel anything or take walks down memory lane.  I become as close to a robot as humanly possible. In the middle of my zone, loading pages of artwork into the recycle bin without focusing on the fact that I will NEVER get little art like this again, my 11 year old daughter, who is closer to 12 now, comes in my room with a stack of papers she is ready to toss. 
“Mom, I need to know, once and for all, are fairies real?” 
Out of my zone, thrust back to my life, instantly, unexpectedly, and nowhere to go.  With my hands in the cookie jar, my jaw hit the floor, and I was, maybe for the first time, speechless. 
She was holding all the letters that her own fairy, Fiona, had been writing to her for years.  
With a rare exception, I have hated Fiona all these years. I hated having to be Fiona. When Chloe was in Kindergarden, some evil mother had written to her daughter one night claiming to be a fairy, her own special fairy. In all fairness, I doubt this mother knew how her spark would burden me for years.  But many nights, wiped out from the exhaustion of three young kids, I had to remember to sneak in and write made up stories from Fiona.  I also had to learn how to make fairy dust, and come up with reasons why she didn’t come every night, or why she couldn’t be photographed. 
I now understand these white collar criminals who are finally caught and exposed when they say it all started with just a little shifting of money, and eventually morphed into them stealing billions.  I have experienced the slippery slope. 
Why would another kid get a special fairy and my kid didn’t?  How could I explain that to my five year old? From an early age, they always understood that different families have different rules. Why, oh why, couldn’t I apply this concept in the fairy situation? 
Well, clearly, I didn’t think it through. Of course I didn’t.  All the Kindergarden girls had a special fairy, I had a three year old son, and a year old baby, and a husband that traveled all week.  If I tell her the fairy notes were written by the girls‘ mothers, the other mothers would hate me and then she might figure out the easter bunny, tooth fairy, and Santa Claus were all made up, and holidays would be ruined and their childhood destroyed. So, I scribbled a note after emptying the diaper genie and here I am right where I deserve to be. After years of lying to my daughter, impersonating some invented fairy, in the middle of my almost impossible zone of cleaning, with my jaw on the floor while my daughter grasps all the letters and demands the truth. Now. 
After the initial shock, I did what any self respecting mother who has pretended to be a fairy in our woods for years would do.  I told her if she ripped up those letters and threw them away, that Fiona would be in great danger.  The bad gremlins would know immediately and go after Fiona first and then the rest of the fairies.  All of the fairies would turn on Fiona and she would be cast from the forest and be a  homeless fairy and  spend the rest of her life searching for a place she could call home. 
I didn’t really do that, but in that instant, I thought about it.  I asked if we could talk about it later, and she said there was nothing to talk about.  DID YOU, OR DID YOU NOT, WRITE THESE LETTERS? 
I got my angry voice on and said we needed to table it for later. I instructed her to keep the letters.  
For the letters are magical and not only contain history and knowledge, but  special powers that reveal themselves only when the time is right. 


  1. I LOVE this story. Love love love. I am certain those letters will be treasured by both daughter and mother. xox

  2. I love your comparison to the white collar criminals and the slippery slope. So much of parenting is like this, isn't it?

    I'm in the middle of decluttering and spring cleaning too. While I usually try to power through, I'm giving myself permission to mourn those works of art and tiny chairs. Granted, the job is moving really slowly...

  3. Wow.

    What questions this brings up!?!

    Decluttering here, too, though I gave up all the Little Things when we moved from Chicago. This is mostly my stuff... burned twenty plus pound of journals... a wonderful letting go.

    Still, I'd keep those letters.

    Thank you.