Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Chinks in the Armor Are Hardest on Me

I was confessing to my close friend, my true reason for putting off decluttering.

It's because of what I find, I told her.

Letters in crayon hieroglyphics, love notes on torn construction paper, broken macaroni necklaces, hot wheels stashed away after being wrapped in Kleenex as a secret gift to me.

In my jam packed dresser drawers, I have pictures. They're a heartbreaking toss up every which way, photos that I would linger over and didn't want kept on a shelf in a photo album. The one here, I found Saturday afternoon. It's my last baby who is 12 now. He was so small, I could hold him cradled in one arm.

These treasures from my life do me in. I guess you could consider it torture I mean, to keep them. Why keep them. It's nostalgia, absolutely, it's something in my hand today from my life yesterday, like the 6 inch sword made from crossing craft sticks together and foil wrap. When it's in my palm, I'm transformed back into what my three children made me from the minute they were born. Their very own Ripley. I was untouchable, unbeatable and nothing stood in my way -- they gave me that role as if they came to this world knowing.

It became the meaning to my days. And I rose to that title, without question, I met it. I would sense them, the moment before their cries, and swoop into their room, lifting them from their crib. It felt like I was rescuing them from a tower.

Only mommy, they used to say.

Life continues in this way, the days the kind that fool you into thinking they will always be like this for you. You, their rider coming in on a steed, armed, ready, capable. Able to save in one deft move.

Spiders, balls caught in trees, knees needing bandages, bullies at the park, a fray in the favorite blue blanket. Nothing was impossible and you flew to them before they even knew they needed you.

Then, overnight ... you're not the only heroine they've always known.

One day, you look at the newest holiday pictures, and you gaze at the short woman lost amidst others taller.
Or you call them to you, because even when you squint, you still can't make out the fine print on the computer screen.
Or you ask them to the basement to lift boxes into the crawl space -- a job you once did before your knees turned to gravel.
When we walk at night, I have to take their arm in the darkness.

I can't stand to declutter, I tell my friend, because of all that I find.

The Umbilical Cord

Oh, Doctor, are you sure....
     the day he was born and you cut the cord-
     that cord that connects child to mother-
did you make it a clean cut? complete?

Because sometimes I wonder
    when the sound of his cry would cause
     the strange pain, prickly pins,
     "letting down" the milk to meet his need.
     And when, as he advanced to solids and fed with a spoon
     my mouth popped open
     with every attempt to spoon food into his;
     my tongue licked the corners of my mouth
     when the baby food spilled out on his face.

If the cord was cleanly cut, complete
     why the sinking sick stomach in me
     at the sight of his blood after a fall?
     Why is my mouth dry
     when he is the one on stage to say the lines?
     Why are my palms sweating
     when he is the pitcher on the mound?
    Why does my heart ache
      when his is broken?

Doctor, could you check?
I think the cord is still intact.

~Jana Vick


  1. I have so many memories saved, art, toys, clothes, etc., that mean the world to me, especially since the children are grown and gone, living lives of their own. I can't get rid of my treasures either, although they have promised to toss them when I'm not around anymore. I sure hope they have good memories when they sort through them. More than likely, they will be overwhelmed with the task.

  2. The feeling that streams down my spine and into my knees when I watch them do something that could hurt them.
    Oh, my heart.
    I laugh at how many boxes of their art and napkin notes I have. I suspect insanity. Or love.

  3. Oooh be still my heart! All those memories...those preciousness. Love this!

    1. Your boy is growing fast, Mo, I just saw on FB!

  4. I am your opposite. I have one memory box. I only save two things per year. This sounds heartless, I know. But, there is a reason behind this. When my Mother died and we had to go through her house, we found room after room stuffed with boxes of what was precious to her and junk to us. It broke our hearts to throw it all away, knowing that it meant enough to her to save. So, I keep this in mind when I save things. Plus...I live with a pack rat, so our daughter will already have a ton of things to filter through....

    1. Maria, this is so true. Why every few months, I try to declutter... I try.. but as you see, it knocks me out.

  5. Nostalgia. It lays me out, too. ::whimpers::

    1. Doesn't it , though? I don't think all are like this. Just... the select few, you know? xo

  6. I think of those little faces looking up at me asking me to open their juice boxes. I asked my son yesterday to help me open a stubborn jar. I wish I would have known that the juice box days wouldn't last forever.

  7. The cord is forever, forever intact. xo

    1. You know, you know.... I can't ever imagine it loosening its intensity.

  8. My son is only one and a half, and this post made me so excited and so scared all at once. I love every emotion you showed here, and you expressed some of my deepest darkest fears. And then there is the one you didn't talk about.. will I be able to keep my crazy at bay when that new person comes in to take his love away? Thank you for the poem as well, I will be tucking that one away...

    1. I am so glad to see you here, Jaimie! I just went to see how you are, and I saw some beaming little baby grins!

  9. Well, now you've gone and made me cry.

  10. Every time I go to get rid of some "things," I think about the boxes of stuff that my MIL gave to my husband, full of pieces of his childhood, or the treasures I always find at my grandmother's house. It always gives me pause and makes the decluttering a little harder.

  11. Leigh Ann: It makes it very hard. And I don't know if my kids will want the things I have saved, what to do what to do.



Related Posts with Thumbnails