I de-cluttered my jewelry box and made a gruesome discovery. It seems I saved my sons' baby teeth. My two oldest boys are 12 and 7. They've lost over 20 baby teeth between them. And they were all in my jewelry box.
I wasn't entirely shocked to find the teeth. I'd haphazardly been throwing them in there as part of my tooth fairy ritual for years. I feel a bit sentimental about my kids' baby teeth. Throwing them in the garbage seems brutal, like I'm throwing away part of their childhood.
But, yesterday, seeing the teeth all jumbled together in my jewelry box made me realize how crazy it was. I knew they had to go. In hindsight, I don't think it's crazy, but a sign that I was feeling a bit sad about my kids growing up. They do it so damn fast, you know.
It got me thinking. What other things do moms keep when they're feeling sentimental?
Here's a list of strange things that sentimental moms keep:
Umbilical Cord Stumps
I've had friends openly admit to saving their baby's umbilical cord stumps. Usually it's moms in a post-partum haze, learning for the first time how fast kids grow that are guilty. The sweet, newborn phase lasts for a millisecond. The loss of the umbilical cord stump is the first milestone in a series of many. Before you know it, your kid will be driving.
I admit I've had a pang of emotion with each of the three umbilical cord stumps that have been in my hands. A new, hormone-fueled mom can't help but think this is how baby was physically attached to me. Now, I'm supposed to throw this tangible link of our oneness in the garbage. At the time, it's kind of hard. But, I always tossed it, maybe with a teardrop or two. I know there are moms out there who have saved their babies umbilical cord stumps. Maybe even scrapbooked them.
Bad Artwork and Every School Paper Ever
If you've got school age kids, you know how much paper comes home each year. With my first child, I was saving a lot of it. Even before he was school age, I saved almost everything. Later, when I went back through things, I was able to de-clutter and sort out the good stuff from the trash. Of course, I've kept those sweet Mother's Day cards written in uneven letters accompanied by drawings of me with huge hands. That's the good stuff.
But, the not-so-good stuff and the downright mundane stuff got recycled. I don't need math worksheets from first grade or very early scribbles. Honestly, when you're kid is old enough to solve algebraic equations, write research papers and create a miniature, working catapult that shoots a ping-pong ball across the room, those random scraps of paper with wiggly, first-attempts at circles seem a little less special. Maybe you need one, but not twenty.
What will you do with all those baby teeth? I know I'm not the only one that has saved these. Now that I've tossed my stockpile, I can make fun of myself for keeping them in the first place. What did I think I'd do with them? Make a necklace? Present them to my grown offspring on their wedding days? Maybe at the birth of their first children? Scrapbook them? Build a model of a tooth fairy castle?
All the Clothing
Saving clothing beyond a few years is a guarantee that it will be ruined. Elastic breaks down, whites get yellowed and a musty smell permeates everything. It's a definite possibility that rodents will find your stash of old clothing useful for nesting.
Clothing can be stored for the next child and special things can be kept with little ill effect, if care is taken. However, it's a bit bizarre to store every single piece of clothing ever worn when you know you've had your last child. Pass on the t-shirts, gym clothes and other everyday things. Save the storage space for special outfits.
Whether or not this is bizarre is a matter of opinion. Mothers in some traditional cultures ingested the placenta as a way to ward off illness and regain strength after childbirth. It's controversial whether or not modern women should do this and, frankly, many people are squeamish about it. You can have your placenta encapsulated to take some of the squeamishness out of it. Some new mothers, especially those high on the crunchy scale, are storing and then eating the placenta. To others, it remains a bizarre practice. To each their own, as far as I'm concerned.
Toys, Toys, Toys
I know there are lots of moms who squirrel away out-grown toys in their attics and basements. I used to save quite a lot of the stuff, too. Maybe your grandchildren will play with them someday, after all. Do you know what happens to toys in storage? They get mildewed and musty smelling. They get outdated and discolored. I know because there's a nine-year age gap between my oldest and my youngest. Those baby toys I packed away for a few years weren't in the best shape. Some were okay. But, some, most notably stuffed animals, weren't. My suggestion is to save a few, very special things. Donate or sell the rest so they can be used and enjoyed by children now, while they're still usable.
Most mothers hang onto some mementos from their children's babyhood and childhood. Some keepsakes enter into the land of the bizarre. What have you kept?
I blog at Cleaning Up the Clutter.
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