I am embarrassed to tell you the number of bags of my own clothing that I just donated to a local charity. I think I lost count, actually. The fat, heavy, kitchen-sized trash bags filled up the entire cargo area in the back of my car. When it came time to unload, an employee was helping me and the look on his face as I kept magically producing more and more bags like a magician with scarves coming out of their sleeve? A mask wasn’t hiding it. A week or so later, I did the same thing with the kids’ old toys and books.
“De-cluttering,” “purging,” “Kon Mari.” Whatever you want to call it, it brings me great joy and satisfaction. Truly, I am still riding the high of my newly organized dresser and closet.
It makes sense to me that we would have a lot of children’s clothing and toys to get rid of as they grow, but I really wasn’t expecting to have that much of my own clothing that I didn’t want or need. Partly it was because my size has fluctuated so much in the years since the twins were born that I just have a lot of items that don’t fit me. Sure, I could keep some around in case I wear those sizes again, but honestly none of the items I donated was so great that I needed to waste the space and mental energy that storing it would require. If I lose or gain weight and need to re-purchase, so be it.
But then some of the surplus seemed to come from what I can only refer to as yet another pandemic brain failure. I had a ton of clothing neatly folded and put away in bins under my bed that I had completely forgotten about. It seems I did this during the season change last summer/fall and then erased my memory. Could I have told you that any of those pieces existed in my home? I could not have. And then I apparently bought some of the same types of items this spring?
I’m full of questions and I have no answers for myself.
Looking back, the stress and absolutely shattering overwhelm of the past year feels not dissimilar to the stress and overwhelm of the first 18 months of the twins’ lives. Both periods of time are blurry and the memories weighted equally with gratitude for the miracles of life and health, on the one hand, and low-key, simmering resentment on the other.
Do you know what I mean? I don’t mean that I resented my babies during that time. But I resented members of our household who got to leave the house and take showers on a regular basis, for example. The sheer gall of leaving the house, right?! But the feeling of being trapped at home and unable to leave during the first months of the pandemic really brought back those feelings of being similarly* trapped at home and unable to leave when I had two tiny premature babies during flu season.
*Similar only in terms of my own psychology and the way I have coped in certain aspects of these two periods of time. I’m not equating a tough season in my own life with a global pandemic that has caused us to lose, by today’s count, 3,409,220 lives world wide (WHO).
I remember when the babies were little and I was overdue for a haircut and color appointment. It takes months to get on my stylist’s schedule and when I finally did, I later had to cancel the appointment to stay home with a sick child. Then, when I finally showed up for the rescheduled appointment, the receptionist didn’t have a record of it. I wanted to cry. It took about 10 months to make it happen. I have never felt that emotional about missing a haircut during the pandemic, but I have felt the same sense of frustration and the exhaustion of caring for others while quashing my own needs.
How long did it take to move out of that new-babies state of being and to start to find space for myself again? What will that look like now — finding space for ourselves as we start to move into whatever this new season is?