Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Where I Become Undone At An Estate Sale

Last week I was by myself for about an hour.  Unbelievable but true.
I had errands to run and I passed an estate sale at a house I've always adored.

(Yes, the house is for sale too, and I want to buy it.  But I love my house and want to live here also.  And I never wish to own more than one house, even if some day I'm as rich as Oprah.  So that leaves me with a bit of a predicament.  I just have to imagine what I'd do if I would buy it and talk about it and dream about it like it could be mine, when really I have no intention of making it so.)

Anyways, I was browsing through this gorgeous old house.  And in each room the typical estate sale tables were set up with the house's contents displayed and priced.

Except they didn't really belong to the house per say.

They belonged to the family who once lived here, then once the children moved out, it all belonged to the older couple that lived there together, and then once the father passed away, the mother who lived alone for years and then too, passed away recently.  The mother who set this house up, raised the children, purchased all these things to make this lovely house a home was gone.  The last one to leave.

And the more I thought about this, the more melancholy I got.  As I browsed the contents of her kitchen, and then the leftover stash in the basement, I headed up to the bedrooms.  Five in all, one I believe was a play room once.  Windows everywhere, with simple white curtains.  She made them herself, I could tell.  Because her sewing machine looked well used and was for sale in one of the bedrooms.  In the play room, I chose two little wind up Fisher Price music boxes circa 1970.  I remember owning one myself.  There was a beautiful old doll retro looking doll stroller, and some old Barbies, a Fisher Price school house, and some wooden puzzles and dusty Legos. 

I started feeling really really melancholy.

And then I went into the last bedroom.

And on a table there were sheet sets.

You know, like EVERY estate sale has.

Tablecloths on hangers and sheet sets folded neatly, tied up and marked Twin, or Full, or Queen.

The sheet sets had big bright flowers on them.  Like 1960's sort of looking sheet sets do.

And that's when I lost it.

That's when I slammed my sunglasses down on my face, and high-tailed it out of there as quick as I could, back to the parking lot across the street where my car sat.

I couldn't stop crying.  "What the heck is wrong with me?" I thought.

"How can sheet sets make me so sad?  Get a grip for God's sake."

But I couldn't.
Because it just hit me all at once.

I am going to die.
Die!
Me!
I am going to die.

And everything that represents all the work I've done, things I've touched thousands of times, symbols of my life, all the toys I've lovingly picked out for my sweet little babies and children, the rugs I've vacuumed so many times I couldn't count, the pots I've cooked in to make meals for my family day after day, all the sheet sets I've washed and folded countless times, the house that I will have spent a lifetime coercing into a refuge for myself and my family,
it will ALL still be here,
looking like nothing much more than ordinary old things,
but I'll be gone.

To someone else, all that stuff will just look like junk.  People I don't know might rifle through it. They'll think, "Now why in heavens would someone keep sheet sets from the 1960's?  Silly old lady."

And I won't be here to tell them, first,
To keep their gosh darn hands off my clean, nicely folded sheet sets.

And second, that my precious little freshly bathed, damp-haired babies slept on those sheet sets and they are so much more than just outdated old pieces of cotton.

And I thought of my own little children and how I have such a fond memory of picking out some particular shark and surfboard sheets one day 5 years ago.

I remember being so excited to move into a house I knew would be home forever, and I ran out to pick up some new bedding that my little boys would love and found these adorable sheets on sale.  The kind of perfect find that makes a mom's day.  Exactly what I was looking for.  I had spent hours and hours planning the children's bedrooms with them, and had a notebook with swatches and ideas.  I knew something fun would ease their transition into a new room, a new house, a new place to sleep. Always scary at first, till it becomes home and you can't imagine any place else.

I know that as years would go buy and the tossing and turning and general wear and tear and washings would make those sheets thin, one day I would say to myself, "You know, I should really get some new sheets for these two little boys who aren't really little anymore."

But I could never actually bring myself to replace them.  I would stop and think that these shark and surfboard sheets trigger the memory of two little, little boys...the ones I used to be able to read stories to at night, before they could read themselves.  The boys that I used to bathe, before they insisted on showers.  The boys that would wear matching pajamas from Carters, before they wouldn't be caught dead in matching pajamas from Carters.

And I'd know that those sheets could last one more year.  Who needs the hassle anyways?  The trend now-a-days is all frugality, so I'd tell myself.  I'd sew up a tiny hole I noticed and put some new elastic in.  Good as new. Righto.

I'd push the thought of the weirdness of "hanging onto old sheets just because you have problems with your children growing older" thought out of my head and move on with my day.   I'd come to realize that once I was someone who thought it was weird to have attachment to material things, that once I was a girl who wasn't one bit sentimental, and that I once thought I'd live forever...or just chose to never think about the hands of time.  I thought my children would be young forever, I thought my role of mother would never change.  I thought I'd live in MY nirvana as long as I wished to...making a home, with my husband by my side and with my little ones near me at all times.

And here at the estate sale, that fallacy of that thought caught up with me.  It pushed me over, punched me in the gut while I was down, and screamed, "Time flies and then you are dead!" right in my face, while I was still keeled over from the first punch.  (That being the Fisher Price toys.)

I still haven't come to grips with it. 
Here's the cold hard truth of what I'm feeling right now.

What if you go through your whole life wishing back years you've already lived?
What if you DON'T want to accept that the best is yet to come, but wish for years gone by?
For as long as you live?
Is part of growing older always surrending bit by bit to this margin of time that you have no control over?  Because that doesn't sound to easy to me.  Not too promising to my state of mind in the future if flowered sheet sets at random estate sales put me into a funk I can't escape from. 
I don't know if I can keep that up.
And that stinks.
It really does.

I am grateful for my life.
I am grateful that I'm alive.
I know that there are many people who have recieved much less time than me.

But I want everything to stand still.
Not now, but 2 years ago I wanted everything to stop.
Will I move on?
I don't want to.
Like a petulant child, I want to stomp my foot down and scream, "STOP because I said SO!"
And time isn't listening.
I must somehow come to grips with the fact that it never will.

80 comments:

  1. Wow. You said what I have thought many times, especially this last year. Something in me changed when I had our sixth child, I think it was this very realization hitting me. I ask my older friends all the time when they go through things I know I will have to go through some day. Like when their oldest child leaves home. I asked my friend, Are you ok with this? Did you grow into this idea over time? How can you be ok with life moving on like this??? But she is, and assures me it just happens that way. We just grow with it. Then I go back to how much I love my life how it is right now (just like you said!) and wonder, will it really be ok? I'm so glad to know I'm not alone!! GREAT post. :)

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  2. oh my. i feel the exact same way....you captured it perfectly. i get torn between feeling like this in the quiet moments when everyone is tucked in and I have my thoughts to myself....and feeling like we are spinning out of control and i'm not savoring the moments when we are all awake (i have 4 little boys 6 and under.....so the days are a bit chaotic). I try to find solace in the thought that all these "things" that I make my home with, and all the laundry and all the meals and cleaning and tucking in will somehow produce men that will reflect fondly on their childhood and in turn raise children who will feel content and happy who will raise children who feel the same. And I hope that I get to peek in on them all from my little corner of heaven and feel like I had some small part in it all. If you figure out how to stop time, would you tell me????

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  3. My youngest was came to the same realization last night as I was tucking her in. She is seven and wanted to know if I liked being a mom. The tears started rolling and we finally uncovered her fear of having to leave home and grow up and that I will die one day. I remember these fears as a young child too. I told her she could live with us as long as she wanted, and that when it is time for mommy to die she would have a life and children of her own so she would be ready to say good bye. And that I would be watching and waiting to see her again. It made us both feel better.

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  4. Wonderfully written. Time is a precious gift. We have to live in the here and now because life can change in an instant.

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  5. wow - very powerful, thought provoking! great post, off to cuddle my children in bed! x

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  6. Sarah, what mother doesn't get these same pangs and thoughts. I think it's true, though that as the kids grow older and into these cool people we do enjoy who they are at every moment. I'm going through a wierd summer transition. For the first time I don't have kids underfoot and relying on me to come up with the plan for the day-they're at their friends' houses or their friends are here. Different but ok.

    I always like to think that one of the things that Heaven has in store for us(should I get there-God, please let me get there) is the opportunity to relive even those moments that my mom brain can't even remember. But I get to savor them as long as I want, know that I can revisit them-in real time- whenever I want, they will be real and I won't have laundry to do or will be able to laugh at a tantrum because I know how it turns out.

    Beutiful post, though.

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  7. Wonderful post! I understand where you're coming from. My daughter just graduated HS and turned 18 and my son is getting ready to turn 13. I'm facing the fact that soon the house will be empty (lonely). However, I make it a point to be with my kiddos, enjoying each stage of their life and all it has to offer. Enjoying a cup of java with my daughter while she shares her fears and excitement about college. Watching my son do his "tricks" on the trampoline. Every day has a memory to make. Believe me, I LOVE the past (I am a Walton's junkie because I was supposed to BE a Walton), but we have to enjoy opening everyday's gift. God Bless You and Your Family!!

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  8. Oh my, can I ever relate :) And I have an 8 year old who wants our whole family together at almost all times and who is afraid of me or someone in our family dying and used to cry about it every night, which makes me think about it that much more (and yes... I am getting my little sweetheart help). It's hard to realize that I am now "middle aged" ~ when did that happen? Time goes by so quickly now! I have no answers on how to deal with all this, but take comfort in knowing that it's something we all face.

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  9. It was when I turned 52 last year that I stopped dead in my tracks and said "I have now lived longer than I will live." Meaning I won't live this many years again. Scary when you think about it like that. Thank goodness I believe in eternal life with Jesus and know that I will see my loved ones again. When my grandmother died five years ago, we all went through her things and then had a yard sale. I watched people as they looked at her things that seemed to have NO meaning for THEM and I remembered....remembered what each thing was used for. Sad. But time marches on. I am reminded when reading your post of how those *things* are not the issue. It's the MEMORY of those things.

    Thank you for a heartfelt post. As always, you are GREAT!

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  10. Thanks for the tears rolling down my face while drinking my morning coffee. Your words here are very powerful and thought provoking. I'm trying ever so hard to enjoy each and every moment with my husband and daughter and the thought of it all being gone one day really hasn't been in my mind until now. I was about to finally get rid of the Lily Pulitzer sheets on my daughters bed because we just redid her room and she wants plain white ones, but now I think we'll keep the cute, preppy, little girl ones. Stupid sheets... making me cry, too.

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  11. Oh, this post killed me...I just spent yesterday afternoon clearing out the baby stuff from my daughter's closet and installing safety gates. How do they grow so fast?

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  12. Shed my own tears at the last Estate sale I attended, for similar, but different reasons. It actually still bothers me a little.

    http://shoeobsessedone.blogspot.com/2010/06/rescue-mission.html

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  13. Hmmm...maybe that's why I have every sheet my kids have ever slept on, even though we no longer have beds that size!

    You are saying exactly what I've been feeling lately. My oldest daughter is about to turn 12, and I feel like in the past year everything has changed. Life is on fast forward right now. I am trying to really cherish every moment with my youngest son (he is 15 months) because I know all too well how I'll turn around and he'll be 11, or 14, or 18. Motherhood is so precious. Thank you for the reminder.

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  14. i can't quite believe how much i feel like i could have written that post....if my life with my children & husband could stop now i would be eternally grateful & deliriously happy....i don't want anyone to *move on* although i love the people our kids are *becoming*...
    with each new child that is brought into the family i believe you don't find *any more* time- but you do find *endless* amounts of love- love that you just didn't know you had reserves of when you already love your kids soo much...
    i'm hoping it's like that- you just love them more for becomming bigger & more wonderful within the world...there's almost *more of them* to love....
    in terms of creating a life that you want to live with your children and your partner...you only made it for them...i'm making ours for us- as we all are- so perhaps the fact that it means very little to someone else is almost a blessing...i love to think of it as *our bubble*, our memories, our special time on earth where other people come & go, marry into, bring children into...but it's ours- and no-body else will ever get us like us.....
    gosh i hope that was as clear here- as it is in my head...whilst tears from your post are streaming down my cheeks...
    melissa x

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  15. This made me cry. It is exactly how I feel everyday of my life and you put it beautifully into words. Thank you.

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  16. I don't think I want to stay where I am forever, but I would like the ability to transport myself back and forth- like time travel. Getting to experience special moments and times over and over whenever I want.

    I guess I'm okay with time moving on because I believe that there are wonderful things in store for myself and my children- even better things than we have experienced. Everything we've been through together so far has been leading up to and preparing us for whatever God has planned for our lives.

    I feel your hurt, Sarah. Please trust that all your time and effort and love is not in vain. Think of those amazing children out there in the world that the lady of that house reared. Those kids are the ones who will never forget their mother and all special things she did for them. Even if people coming to an estate sale think she's forgotten, she's not:-).

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  17. Oh my goodness, now I am feeling melancholy too! It makes me realize that our time on earth is fleeting and I had better make the most of it and not squander the time and opportunities God gives.
    Thanks for sharing your ponderings! :)

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  18. I felt the same way as you, then I started reading "I Love Being a Nonny" blog and now I feel a little differently. This time is fun now, but every stage in life has it's good. My sister's kids are older and she keeps telling me it just gets better and better. I'll miss having babies, but I also look forward to the time when hopefully I have grand babies who I can hold without my breasts being sore from breast feeding and enjoy them without being so sleep deprived. Life just gets better and better...

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  19. The best is yet to come. Promise.

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  20. I totally and completely understand. I love your passion and the way you write with such detail and feeling.

    Beautiful post.

    (and I love the photo shoot pics. I'm on vacation and not online much so didn't say so before.)

    Emily@remodelingthislife

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  21. Wow. *Wiping tears from my cheeks* I'm a country genre lover and a Randy Travis song couldn't of said it better in Three Wooden Crosses..."I guess it's not what you take when you leave this world behind you, it's what you leave behind you when you go." As sad as it is to be reminded of this, that little old lady and her loving hand still exists in your home now by the Fisher Price toys you purchased. So in that, there should be some joy. Much like the new Toy Story 3 movie, if you haven't seen it I highly recommend you do! (tear jerker, just a warning) Hard to imagine that everyone else's lives will continue when yours stops. I used to feel so weird coming back from the Navy and seeing that no one stops and waits for you to come back...things continue as before, just minus you. A hard thing to wrap your head and thoughts around.

    However my Mother can attest to....even though your babies grow and all fly the coupe, babies return by them having children. You hear the pitter patter of little feet again, you hear the magical music of a small child's laughter, and you see them play with the same loved toys that your own children played with. A new role is taken by you, new grand memories are made and in such life gets better; your legacy and your love will continue for generations! I even bet that those sheets you kept may be wrapped around new babes to come and their parents telling your story.

    Once again...L-O-V-E your blog, adore you, can't wait for the next post again and again and again!
    Love from Kansas~
    Amber

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  22. Sarah, this is a great post and I have never thought of it...until now. I love going to sales...Estate ones are the best. But, I never thought of it the way you did the other day. But, now I will have a whole new light when I go to my next Estate sale.

    Life is too short, the kids grow up too fast and I am trying not to wish the years away, even if they are tough ones right now...I am trying to enjoy every moment a little bit more...so thanks for making me thing a little harder!

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  23. I so feel you. I just wanted to stop time last week. I was watching my kids play outside and I tried to take a million pictures with my heart hoping that I'll never forget how they sound, and the things they notice and pick up, their energy and their laughs. You'll live on through them with the time you are spending with them and things you are teaching them. Families are forever, even after this life.
    Now, I think you need to go watch What About Bob. Let me know when you get to the part when Siggy is talking to Bob about death.
    Hugs to you! :)

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  24. Beautifully written. I didn't have any sunglasses to slam down on my face as I read it. My 6 year old came in and asked why I was crying, and I told him I was crying about sheets. He just shook his head at me and I cried some more. I'll be thinking about this for awhile.

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  25. you made me cry! I so often feel this same way and worry that others would say I need to be put away! We do get a little "crazy" as moms, especially those of us that do put so much planning into it! And this little home that we work so hard to create SHOULD remain the same!!!! I helped a family (an older lady, a widow) clean her house out as we had a major flood a couple months ago and I had to literally throw all of those same sort of things away... ruined. She was left with nothing. This sweet little mother had kept BIG manilla envelopes with all the notes and cards each of her 5 kids had given her over the years, a folder per child (grown now) and they were mush... photos, momentos, things from her husbands funeral. I was the only woman helping go through it all and my husband kept asking if I was okay! These little moments make us think, and I know they are only things... but a mommy puts a lot of thought into those "things"! Thank you for making me tear and smile this morning!

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  26. Someone once said that this life on earth is just a tiny punctuation mark on the cover page of the rest of our lives. Our eternity with God is the novel, the biggest most meaningful part of our lives.

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  27. I often have panic attacks over this same thing. I totally relate. Thank you for bravely sharing.

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  28. A few months back I went to an estate sale and in the unfinished basement was a floor to ceiling metal rack of canned goods-hand canned of course, glass bell jars, probably food from this old lady's garden. It broke my heart to think of all the work she put into all that food and it was just going to sit there and probably never be enjoyed. But then I remembered the Eternal. The homeowner probably up in heaven in such eternal bliss that she would laugh herself silly at any tears I shed over silly earthly canning jars.

    I believe with all my heart that your eternity will be your nirvana-perpetual motherhood. Except only the good parts-none of the fevers, tantrums, you'll be well rested and have time alone to wonder and wander, there will be no guilt, no worry, no aging, your babies will be right there with you at their ideal age-the sheets, everything, illuminated by the Glory of God almighty. You will never look back to earth and wish for the fevers and the aging and the worry. Each day is a step toward the best which is yet to come. Of course it is only human to think otherwise. The trick is to return your thoughts to His face and look forward to that treasure yet to come.

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  29. Sarah,
    So well written. In the past month, I have cleaned out my mother's house and felt the guilt of not keeping EVERYTHING 2 years after her death. Then this weekend I moved my baby boy into a big boy bed. I think a 4 year old needs more space than his crib mattress can provide! I just washed his crib sheets for the last time and wondered what to do with them. Lots of tears and LOTS of sheets, both mom's and baby's.

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  30. It is the oddest thing that I just read this...I was about 20 minutes ago thinking of all the things i have to do today and how badly the boys want me to go play. Then I thought 40 years from now when I'm in my late 60's the cluttered piles will still be cluttering away and my boys will have moved away. All that work for nothing because I would just be sitting there wishing for the last 40 years back. It was such a sad feeling. Then I thought I should blog about this...I think I will link you instead :) We are off to the pool!

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  32. I love what you wrote, it truly made me stop and think for a moment, and definitely brought a tear to my eye.

    I've been thinking lately, that those parts of time with my four kids that were the hardest; cranky toddlers, sleepless nights, fevers and diaper rashes and scary hospital visits -- those memories are fading as "difficult" and turning into pieces of time that I actually wish I could go back to and experience again. What I wouldn't give to hold my (now 13 year old) little two yr old all night long as he slept fitfully with a fever, holding a cool cloth to his hot little body. Those moments made me feel such fierce love and devotion, and just made me feel worthy of being a mother.

    Things are different as these little ones grow, but no matter how much time passes, I feel so strongly that all of those special sheets, drawings and paintings and things that we lovingly accumulate and hang onto WILL show our kids how much we loved and valued them.

    I wrote about this too, briefly, last spring when my step-father's Mom passed away.
    http://jesseesspot.blogspot.com/2009/04/sorting-through.html

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  33. holy moley this is killing me sarah. maybe because it hits so close to home. maybe because i have those fears too. maybe because i have no control over anything at all, even though i trick myself into thinking i do.

    BIG SIGH.

    but again, your writing is beautiful and compelling. so thank you. even though my gut is still in knots, thank you.

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  34. I just glanced and read a couple sentences because I can't lose it this morning. Sarah your my paisan. I feel what you feel most everyday. I am not a depressed or even sad person. But invariably not a day goes by where I don't have a moment where I feel like I am screaming inside my head because I have no control over the most precious thing to me..my babies getting older. I knew a couple of years ago when my two year old was born that this was it..the best my life will ever be in my mind. My oldest was in his last year of pre-school and my two middle were 3 and 1. I had all of my babies at home with me, with me all the time, all to myself. That is the happiest I could be. I am gratful for the days when I put all of my kids to sleep with out breaking down in tears with at least one of them because I know that was another day gone by I can't ever get back. It was my #2's last day of pre-school a couple of weeks ago and I couldn't even talk, literally I was so choked up. One of the other mothers was so excited! She actually wrote "whoo-Hoo!" on her facebook page because she was so happy to have her LAST BABY GO TO KINDERGARTEN! Am I crazy? What's wrong with me? It's debilatating. What I know is I will have no regrets. I will soak in every last morsel of this time of our life. I also know that I do want my children to fly. I never did because of how I am. I was afraid that something would happen to someone I loved if I wasn't realatively close. I didn't want to miss anything. I want my children to soar and not feel weighted down with guilt because their mother is a little nutty. I just hope/pray/vodoo whatever that they come back to rest near me. Your not alone sista friend.

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  35. Not a good post to read while my 12 year old boy is away at camp and I am missing him like crazy. However, good to read that someone feels exactly the same way that I do. I don't attach to "things" but definitely to memories, and lately even sheets bring back the memories too.
    I had a sewing project that required using some old sheets, I have yet to do this project...can't quite cut up those sheets yet.
    The only thing that I cling to is what my mom always says,"each new phase brings it's own sweetness"
    We put away the crib last week for the last time...six is probably enough right? But talk about melancholy. I thought I was fine until I came across the crib sheets in the dryer last night...whaaaahhh!
    Sheets, sheets, sheets....they'll get ya every time.

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  36. Well luckily I don't believe that all we have here on earth is "it". It can't possibly be all-there's so many more good times to be had!

    My girls are 8 and 10 (in just a few days), and time really is slipping away. Unlike you, my earlier days were not that enjoyable for me. My two were close in age and my second was a colicy screamer who didn't sleep. So I have a lot of guilt over all that-at times I feel they are just sliding out of my hands now. But I try to cling to each stage and enjoy it as much as I can.

    My own grandmother is 87 and her memory is fading rapidly. Most of her things have been divided and spread about, and it is upsetting. When we moved her out of her apartment, knowing it was the last time, it was very emotional.

    We can only try to live our lives without regrets and enjoy those we love as much as we can. This stage of life is fleeting, for sure.

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  37. "No more growing!" If I say it ten times a day, I don't say it enough. I am with you.

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  38. Yeah, I can totally relate. I used to say, "I can't wait until.." You fill in the blank. I sometimes would want to rush through a stage of my kids' lives because I looked forward to something about the next stage. I now try to focus on the here and now because I've realized how quickly it passes! And you can't get it back!
    My oldest is now almost 12 and our family (me, my hubby, 11 year old, 9 year old and 20 month old) all went to see Toy Story 3. I CRIED (my boys thought I was a little silly) and my husband cried too! I saw the boy Andy going off to college and realized that my kids would be leaving the nest one day. My oldest son LOVED Toy Story and watched it every day almost when he was little. Toy Story 3 brought back all those memories of him with his Buzz Lightyear and quoting the movie word for word. It made me so sad - he's getting older and there's nothing I can do to stop it.

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  39. I go through the same thing every time I go to an Estate Sale. I find myself trying to take it all in and appreciate the things knowing that they were really important to someone. And, if I buy something it makes me so happy to know that it was previously loved by someone else.

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  40. have you read "the gift of an ordinary day"? it kind of talks about transitions and how life goes on even when we aren't sure it should. anyway, it's a great book.

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  41. You brought tears to my eyes and some good thought-provoking ideas to my mind.
    I will now probably never throw away my sweet baby boy's crib sheets and I will always remember to be more present with him each day in the busy-ness of life. We should all remember to have more moments with our children where we are truly living, and I define this as feeling complete joy while connecting with them whether it be singing, reading, talking, dancing, or just lying on the floor staring into their beautiful eyes. And kiss those chubby cheeks and smell their hair as much as you can, I always do. :)

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  42. Very good reminder to enjoy each moment of your life as you live it - something which is easy to forget while coping day-to-day.

    However, each stage of your life will be sweet - not just when your children are small. I've loved each part of mine - seeing them grow up, graduate college, get married, have children. Having grandchildren gives you a second chance to appreciate the little things again and I love all that goes with that - bathing, dressing, even diaper changing. Now I'm anticipating a new little granddaughter from China and so excited about that.

    Husband and I eat out a lot, I sleep late on weekends, we are planning more travel when I retire - it's all good. Life is a journey and each part has it's wonderful parts so don't be too sad. If we live life well there shouldn't be too many regrets when it is time to go.

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  43. Oh good grief, now I'm crying! At work! I should have known better than to read blogs at work, but I'm pumping and this is my reward for being hooked up to a dairy machine.

    Anyway, hugs to you. I do feel that way, lots of times. At the same time, I think about how every age my oldest is, I think "THIS is my favorite age!" And while there are LOTS of things I LOVE LOVE LOVE about having three small children, I am also looking forward to a day when everyone is walking and out of diapers and feeding themselves and we can go sight-seeing somewhere really cool. And I'm looking forward to seeing the young adults they will become. And I wonder about their careers and their spouses and their children. I look forward to having my sweet hubby all to myself again. I look forward to having grandbabies who I can spoil rotten without worrying about having to raise them. I look forward to being old and wise and knowing so much more than I do now.

    But it's hard, because this whole big ol' world will just keep right on going, whether I'm here or not. And every sweet moment just slips away, which is why we cherish them so much and take lots of pictures and blog about them.

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  44. Wow. I've never been to an estate sale. Now I don't think I will go to one. You are right though. I want time to stop. My baby can now sit up on his own. That's enough of this development. Stop it.

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  45. I am the oldest child in my family...68 years young. My parents both died last year at 91 and 92. Their home is now for sale and when it sells, my brother, sister and I will need to clear out 58 years of items that hold hundreds of memories. I know I will shed tons of tears, but I am enjoying our 15th year of retirement and am enjoying every moment. However, I know there are many things that I won't be able to let go even though I should be paring down my own things.

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  46. what a wonderful read - not in the happiest sense - but what a fabulous writer you are. you words are so true to life and something we all will feel if we haven't already. thanks for writing this!

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  47. Sounds like me. Everything lately makin' me cry! WT Heck? Other day looking thru photos I was thinking: WHY did I take a picture of that tree? I could have taken another one of the kids! Yikes!

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  48. my parents bought an old house, furnished. It was the most disturbing thing ever, because they didn't have any living relatives to take the photographs and BABY BOOKS...WEDDING pictures. Everything. was. left. behind.
    of course, I blogged about my feelings, because that's what bloggers do. I felt the same way as you. I'll spare you the link...because I have no idea how to do that, and you already have a billion comments to sift through.

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  49. Don't you think its sad that a couple of generations after your gone no-one will remember who you are? That is what I struggle with. My kiddies never met my Nan and even though I talk about her they have no connection to her. Once Im gone no-one will know what a loving and incredible lady she was. And one day this will happen to me too.

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  50. Sarah,
    My friend. I have felt like this, especially lately (and sorry for sharing that heartache!). I don't know why it's so hard to face the fact that what we do is never permanent. But I love thinking that "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." Our children are our legacy, and they carry with them memories of those floral sheets and favorite blankets and tenderly read stories. And that's what we really want, right? Happy, well-adjusted children.
    And they throw Mom away with the used Sunday Comics. That's our job.
    And that part just really sucks, no matter what.

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  51. Whenever I have gone to Estate sales I felt depressed. They are eerie. I never really, really thought about it until now.

    Every time I see my parents they are bringing me things from my past. My mom has basically told me she doesn;t want people to deal with all her stuff when she is gone.

    The other day I was talking to her about decorating my house since I moved recently and she said if you have a modern table put something old on it and if you have an antique table put something modern on it. What will I do when she is not here, if I go before her, I know she will pass this kind of stuff on to my children.

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  52. It's posts like these that remind me why you're one of my favorite blogs to read.

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  53. OK, that just made me ugly cry. Seriously. I feel the same exact way....every day is hard with little ones but I want time to STOP. It really breaks my heart to think of them getting older and life passing too quickly. ughh.

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  54. Reminds me of some lines I saw cross stitched once:

    Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth
    Empty the dustpan and poison the moth
    Hang out the washing and butter the bread
    Sew on a button and make up the bed
    Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
    She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
    The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
    And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
    The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow
    For children grow up, I've learned to my sorrow
    So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep
    I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

    Thanks for your thoughts today!

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  55. Wow. You are really, really lucky that you just now realized this.

    I first had this punch in the stomach on my 22nd birthday. I know it sounds insane, but every birthday leading up to that was something exciting. When you're 13, you're a teenager. When you're 16, you can drive. When you're 18, you can vote, when you're 21, you can hit the bars with your friends.

    Well, 22 came and there was nothing fun attached it to it. I was just a year older than 21. I realized that every birthday from now on would just be another year.

    And then I was honestly depressed about getting old and dying for YEARS after that. The only good thing about it was that I started wearing daily sunblock (and eye cream with sunblock) when I turned 22, so I have less wrinkles than the average 35-year-old.

    I don't think a few less wrinkles was worth a decade of morbid thoughts, though!

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  56. I wrote the very same concept yesterday in my own blog...I'm calling it my mid-life crisis. Realizing that these wonderful days come to an end...to begin other wonderful days, yes, but that are never the same. I know I'm far down here in the comments section, but I, too, love how you took on the woman's perspective. You have a very gracious heart.

    Blessings,
    k

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  57. You say it so beautifully. I already want time to stop. I already know these are the best days of my life! They are pretty darn crazy (four girls: almost 7, 5, almost 3, and 2 months) but THESE are the years I anticipated all my life! And these are the years I will always miss. I'm living the good life right now, and although some days are long and grinding, these sweet times are slipping through my fingers like sand. Thank you for such a poignant reminder that we need to soak them up like crazy.

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  58. I read daily and love your blog. I also have 5 kids ages 12-1 so I relate to a lot of what you post....especially today. Beautifully written and all too true.

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  59. I can totally relate too. I'm pretty good with purging items as my kids outgrow them but there are a few toys that I have saved. And recently a friend was over with her little girl and I pulled out some of the "old" toys and there were a few times when I sucked in air and kindly went over to the child and taught her how to not break the toy. I kept telling myself "relax it's just a toy" but to me it means more. To me memories flood back of both of my boys playing with them, the years that have gone by. the babies that they no longer are.

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  60. We have to trust that there is something EVEN BETTER on the other side, otherwise, I don't think we can bear it. It's hard to believe, sometimes. That's where faith kicks in.

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  61. I feel the same often. I remember what my priest told me during our engagement counseling sessions (I admitted to him that for the first time in my life I was afraid to die, really afraid). He theorized that once you truly love somebody else and put their feelings above your own, then you realize how short and precious time is. You realize that everything fades to dust. It's the aching in your heart that you never want any harm to befall those you love. I have to believe he's right. Love makes us aware of the fragility of life.

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  62. Reading this almost made me cry because I had the same thing happen to me at an estate sale a few weeks ago. I watched everyone going through these things that really meant something to someone, it represented their life and it all hit me that someday that would be my stuff and not that my "stuff" is anything special but it all has stories and there are memories associated with them and when I am gone then who will tell the stories. I know where I am going when I am gone and I know in my heart that it will be even better than here but that is so hard to imagine. I love my life, my husband and my children and the thought of leaving that is sad and scarry! I tell myself at night when I think about this (for some reason, I think about this a lot laying in bed at night) that life is short and I want to live it well. I do not want to waste my time worrying or thinking too much about dying because it is going to happen, I am going to die, nothing I can do about it. Kind of sobering!

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  63. Oh my, you made me cry. Great post.

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  64. OH man that is a great post. You speak the words of my heart.

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  65. Ugly Cry before 9 am. Perfect. So glad I came across this post...will hold my kiddos extra tight today...and let the floors stay dirty.

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  66. I never understood those 'feelings' obviously until I became a mom... and then watched my mom die... before my baby was old enough to even know who she was... and then to stand at the 'garage sale' and watch my mom's things... disappear with strangers... it was horrible... and then watching my baby and later babies grow... with out her to witness the milestones with me... ugh... but... somehow... most days... it isn't about the things... it is about the memories she passed down to me... the little traditions she left me with... that I smile as I teach the same things to my babies... they love all my 'grandma Norma used to do this' stories... that part brings you peace. Building those memories helps ease that deep nudge to hold onto stuff ... some things I do regret parting with... but really... it is the memories of her that are more precious than gold! =) and some stuff I just keep in a box ... knowing it is stuff and I should just let it go.. baby steps!! I hope one day my babies love their memories of me and the fun things I did with them...the memories I helped them build... the values I taught them... ya know... the heart stuff. =)

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  67. Thank you for this post. I started reading it yesterday and then had to stop or I would have been crying. I managed to read it and all the comments today. You see, we moved out of our big house in January into a rental and then in May into a much smaller home in another state. And there is still half a semi trailer storage unit FULL of stuff we CANNOT possibly keep.
    I never did baby books for any of my seven kids, just saved the stuff. I didn't make scrapbooks, just saved the photos. I make the drive down to the storage unit about once a week and try to fill the car to take to Goodwill or the dump. I did keep all the photos, etc. but oh the sheets and pillows and blankets and outdoor toys and vhs tapes and, well it goes on.
    I'm trying to be happy with less because I certainly do not need all I have. Thank you again!

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  68. Estate sales used to make me cry not because of my own mortality but because the things these people teasured were unwanted by their families. Either that or they had no one, which is sadder. One day at a sale an older gentleman said to me "You have to think of it as giving value to what they cherished because you want it and will give it a good home". Now I feel totally different about them.

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  69. This post title caught my eye on the Blogherads sidebar, because I've got a post on estate sales in draft. I think I'm a little older than you (40), and my takeaway is slightly different. But I loved this, and will link to it in mine when I wrap it up.

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  70. It was just this morning, as I dressed my "little" boy in his first scout uniform and sent him off to day camp, then I realized that my sweet little boy is growing up right before my eyes. I wanted to cry. Part of me is so excited to see him grow and change and experience new things, and the other part of me wants him to just stop growing and getting older.

    I once read a quote about this that I try to remember when I get sad about my kids growing up, "It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn't."
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

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  71. I didn't read all the comments on this post, but I'm sure all the Mommies out there are crying a little. As I did. I loved this post... thanks for giving me some perspective. Perspective on a day that found me growling at my 18 month old for not cooperating at Costco. God how I love my kids and how I wish time could slow down or stop completely.

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  72. Well crap. I was thinking about this post last night and decided to look it up and re-read it this morning and now I'm bawling at my desk. Love you, Sarah, you are inside my brain and say things that I'm thinking so beautifully.

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  73. Lovely post. I have been up since the wee hours of the morning with a sick child. And now I'm crying. I often wish I could just freeze time. My boys are young and sometimes I don't know how they got to be so big.

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  74. Powerful. . . When my kids were little, I said to my s-i-l, "I can't bear for them to grow up and leave home, I want to keep them with me forever." Her reply: "Once they're teenagers, you are SO ready for them to go." Well, mine are teenagers and I *still* do not want them to go. I would keep them with me forever. I waited 40+ years for my kids, they waited in desolate Romanian orphanages for me ... and none of us likes the thought of things changing. They will change, of course, and we will deal with it ... but dad-gum it, we don't have to like it :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Hugs ~ Mary

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  75. Wow, I am reading through old posts and this was so powerful. I have some old twin sheets I got at a garage sale, Ziggy sheets that say "I love you" and "You're special". I got them for the kids to take to camp so they wouldn't ruin the good sheets. Well, my kids love these sheets still and they are 39 and 34 y/o!!!! They LOVE those worn out sheets. I find estate sales in general cause unbearable melancholy. Thank you for such a thoughtful post.

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  76. Just thank you. Thank you for writing this...as a new{ish} mom I find myself so exhausted that I wish the days away...

    and now, I want to print this post, and place it on the fridge...

    in small things, remembered...

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  77. Just wanted you to know that I get it. Both the sheets and all the thought processes they triggered! A while back, when my grandfather died, we cleaned out the house and I found all the Snoopy sheets that they had for us when we would come sleep over. 6 years later, I have them. They are worn, they are sad, but looking at them brings me happy memories, so they stay!

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  78. I have been up 2 hours past my bed time reading many entries in this post. I have just spent two days in my closet...just my closet....cleaning! During that time I was thinking about the things I want to do with my 10 year old daughter as she is growing so quickly! Every thing I have read tonight is hitting me so deeply.... The 40 days of cleaning to the calm, organized, loving family life! Too much stuff = less time on the important things. Thanks for being here when I needed this!

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  79. Tonight I am nursing my little newborn and listening to my two not so littles snore in their beds and crying reading your post. I'm glad other people feel the same way. I feel so blessed every time I read your blog- like someone gets me (and puts it all down much more eloquently than I ever could). Thank you for inspiring me to simplify and be the best mother that I can- all the while recognizing the blessings in my life.

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