Toy mess

The last time my child rode his Big Wheel bike was nearly five years ago. If he tried to sit in it now, he would get stuck.

And yet, it sits in our garage — huge and chunky — waiting for no one.

In fact, our garage has become a mausoleum of toys and clothes from days gone by. They’re physical reminders of time; items I can’t bring myself to get rid of.

I am a rational person. I know there is zero logical reason for me to hang on to the Little Tykes tool bench that takes up as much room as the snow blower. No one in my house will ever play with this again. I know this. But then my mind goes to the what-ifs.

What if, 20 years from now, he resents me for letting go of the tool bench because he wanted to pass it down to his children? Or the small red bike with the broken peddle and the flat tires? Surely, this could be the thing he’d hate me for giving away.

I think you see where this ridiculous — but very real — stream of consciousness is going.

I know it’s all just stuff. It’s just plastic and parts that, if donated, would relieve valuable space of clutter. I know other children would enjoy and actually play with these toys. However, as each year goes by, I find it harder and harder to release these things from our space and my memories. I struggle with bringing myself to give it away.

And that’s really the core challenge.

If I give these toys away, I feel like I’m giving up the memories of that time. All the times when my son was small and would pull himself up on the tool bench to bang around and sing to himself while he “worked.” I feel like I’d be saying goodbye to memories of our old house, where he and his best buddy would drive around on the motorized tractor pretending to haul a load of gravel from one house to the other.

I don’t want to forget. I don’t want these moments of the past to get lost in the busyness of the present and future. So my reasoning is that if I keep all the stuff, those memories will still be within reach.

But then I saw our 2-year-old neighbor boy outside playing the other day. I grabbed a little green scooter from the garage that’s far too small for anyone who lives under my roof and walked it over. Instantly, this boy began grinning from ear to ear, quickly taking it up and down the sidewalk in front of his house. I walked away suggesting a helmet, remembering the scar on my son’s nose from a face-plant incident. And I realized I was OK with the choice to move that item along.

Because the truth is, I won’t forget that moment — the time my child took off too fast and bit it on the sidewalk right in front of me. Those memories are mine, and they take up the best kind of room — the room in my heart.

Now to move on to a few other items. Baby steps!

Jessica Janssen Wolford is a mom and stepmom raising three kiddos with her husband, Eric, in Elkhorn. You can read more about her experiences on her blog, “A Step in the Right Direction.” You can also follow her on Twitter @jessljwolford.

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