Saturday, June 25, 2011

take back your stuff


     This is an open letter to all our grown children everywhere:
     Come get your stuff that you have been storing in our basements, attics, sheds and spare bedrooms since-well, we’ve lost track of how long.
     My husband and I were sorting and simplifying one summer feeling pretty good about ourselves when we came upon a maple bedroom set in the far corner of our shed.
     “Do you suppose it’s even missed?” asked my husband.
     “I doubt it,” I replied.
     “Let’s go ahead and put it up for sale. We’ll give her [my daughter] the money. She’s never going to use it again.”
     “I think that we need to ask her what she wants to do about it,” I replied being the more diplomatic of the two in this case.
      That evening we made a phone call, and got the most amazing answer in return.
     “Why, I had no idea I still had that bedroom set.”
     My husband was nodding to me as if to say that he was right about it all along.
     How could we have forgotten the scorching hot day moving the bedroom set in huffing and puffing the whole way? We shifted our possessions making room temporarily for a bulky headboard, dresser and bed rails. Were we in for a surprise that lasted ten years! At one point I had even thought about setting it up in the spare bedroom and using it. Would my daughter have noticed when she came visiting?
      “What do you need the room for?” my daughter asked.-Then a bigger pause.   “You’re not moving, are you?”
     Here’s a grown child not getting it that her parents want the space for themselves to store their own stuff.
     “We have lives, too,” we reply in unison. I think that ended the conversation on that topic for another year or so.
          Well, looking back I believe that I pulled the same stunt on my mother when I was younger. I was insensitive to her, and sadly her harping went on deaf ears. Every time I came to see her eventually the conversation turned to when I was planning to get the last box or two filled with my old yearbooks and teenage memorabilia out of the tiny space in the attic. It was taking up room in a big house lived in by one occupant -for what, I couldn’t figure out. Finally, after repeated warnings packages arrived on my doorstep. The message couldn’t have been any clearer.
     We have good friends that actually have had whole households of belongings stuffed into their place while their adult kids were moving from one job to another. We would be ushered around the boxes with a small wave of apology for the mess, and on to our visit. Those are pretty short-term inconveniences, though, and all parents try to do that for their kids. I wonder if all the stuff left when the big kids moved, though, or was some of it held back.
     I am laughing to myself over my recently empty nesting friends who are claiming whole bedroom takeovers for offices and TV rooms with utter glee in their eyes. How long will they keep all the teenage vampire novels and girly posters on the walls before packing them away for safekeeping? That’s how the whole vicious cycle begins I want to tell them. Next it will be college textbooks stored that might be needed for reference, but they’ve got four years to find room for them.
    So what happened to the maple bedroom set? We sold it and sent a check off to our grown up kid. It was a win-win situation. She’s never mentioned it again, because she knows that we have more boxes of her books stored, and we might be serious about our simplifying business.