Sunday, September 11, 2011

Making Room

took this picture at the coast this summer. love those daisies stretching right up to the sky.

My little brood's been sick this weekend. Quite sick. Fevers and coughs all around. I don't know how I avoided it (knock on wood!) -- guess someone needed to be well enough to care for the infirm.

Saturday morning while my peeps languished in the living room, I took the house and yard and garage and car by storm. (Should I feel guilty about that? After week one of home school, I threw my arms wide open to greet the weekend.) I tore through these parts like a dervish. I couldn't get things clean enough, organized enough, purged enough. I took two full carloads to goodwill. Enormous garbage bags stuffed full of accumulated crap. When I pulled up with my second load, the employee manning the drop-off station said, "you must me moving?"
"No, I'm just neurotic," I told him. "and sick of clutter."
"I guess so!" he heaved as he hefted a large black garbage sack of my stuff into the truck.

I don't think of myself as a hoarder, but I guess I have had a tendency to hang on to stuff. And I think I know why...I felt like we might need it? Or like someday we might fall on such hard times that we'd be glad we had 47 stuffed animals and an extra high chair and all those over-sized, ugly hand-me-down maternity clothes. ???

Now I prize simplicity and minimalism more than hidden potential or possibility lurking in stored stuff. I want a simple life. I want to have things because I love them or use them - preferably both. Good thing I think my husband and children are so loveable and useful...everything was under "save or send" scrutiny Saturday afternoon :) I'm not sure what the motivation behind it all was; I think there may have been a few things at play...
We helped Nate's dad move recently and being involved in that process really made me want to pare down and rid my life of unnecessary stuff. There is a complication that comes with accumulation. It was kind of sobering to see him toss, recycle, and give away so many things that had once been important enough to purchase. So many of the things we buy are needless and the satisfaction they bring is so momentary. I am trying to evaluate purchases differently.

The other thing that motivated the great garage clean out was a recent conversation with a friend. She had some advice for me: "I know you're sad that you haven't been able to get pregnant...but you've got to go on with your life. You've got to find joy in what you have. Fill your life with things you couldn't do if you had a little baby. Have adventures with your husband and kids. Get rid of your baby stuff. Move on!"

At first it felt insensitive. I got little defensive and bristled at her boldness. But all those things are easier said than done, I told her. And I am trying to move on and find joy in what i have (not hard to do), but there is still a sadness, a longing.

Even while I made my rebuttal I felt the truth of what she was saying. I told Nate about it. "She's right," he said. And she was. So lots (most) of those big garbage bags that I hauled to goodwill were full of baby things - clothes, toys, blankets, accessories. I sat in the hallway by my laundry room (cooler than the garage) and went through boxes and boxes of baby clothes. Half of them were spit-up stained and wretched; easy to give up. Some were sweet, but not particularly sentimental; slightly harder to let go of. And some were absolutely precious. So precious that I had to cry a little bit over them. It was like pulling a memory out of storage - a little outfit or a tiny pair of shoes that stirred up the sweetness of that season with my baby. Those were the ones I kept, the things that brought back the most vivid essence of my babies. One box of boy things and one box of girl things.

Not surprisingly, shedding that physical weight has helped me let go of some of the emotional weight, too. Or maybe it was the other way around? Either way, I feel less tangled, less heavy. Still hopeful. In my garage, in my mind, in my heart, I am making room. I'm not sure what for, but inspiration will fly by and drop a feather for me, I'm sure.


  1. Getting rid of all your baby stuff is an excellent way to ensure that you'll have a baby. My husband keeps telling me I need to go out and find a part-time job that I'm totally in love with or plan an enormously complicated family vacation because JUST when things are getting good, I'll end up with morning sickness. That's our hope anyway.

    I still pray for more babies, but I've now learned to pray that they'll come in His due time and that he'll give me patience until that time arrives. And oddly enough, the patience factor has been granted. With every negative test instead of getting stressed out like I'm prone to do, I have this odd reaction of "oh... well... better luck next month...." SO not my normal response. But I appreciate the extra patience and perspective He's giving me... it doesn't stop me from being a squeaky wheel, but I'm slowing coming to accept His timing, whatever that may be.

  2. I read a book by the Fly Lady this summer and a question posed in her book keeps me paring down - "Does this bless my life?" I feel like I keep getting rid of stuff, but still feel bogged down by the amount of our stuff! It's crazy how stuff accumulates, especially with kids.
    Good luck with your homeschooling adventure - we are trying Calvert this year too.

  3. This is a subject that is tender to my heart because I never dreamed in a million years that two babies was going to be the Rigby allotment. I wanted a quiver full :) (Good thing Jordan turned out so beefy, between those biceps and that smile he helps to fill up space!).
    What I needed to learn was to concentrate more on what I did have than what I didn't. Gratitude expanded to fill all the empty spots (and mothers, gracious enough to share, letting me hold their babies every chance I got took care of the rest).
    What I wish I could tell my twenty-four year old self is that happiness is a choice you make every day, hour, and sometimes minute. But then again, that discovery has been worth all the bumps and bruises it took to claim it. I guess I wouldn't change anything after all :)
    I love you Em. As you untangle, I learn. And remember. That's the power and gift of capturing moments.
    Randi Rigby (Ignore the Issaquah 2nd YW tag!)

  4. Em, I love the advice your friend gave you to make the most of where you are right now. So true for all of us, but hard to remember when you really desire a good thing that's just not working out. (Although I find that my baby-hunger can take a step back if I sit next to someone in church with a shrieking baby. :-)

  5. "inspiration will fly by and drop a feather for me, I'm sure." How perfectly expressed. I love that. I'm sorry things have been hard. I'm sorry we haven't had a real talk in so long that I didn't know you were going through this.

    I need to purge too. Thanks for the inspiration. Love you.

  6. Emily, I loved reading all the posts that you've written recently. You express yourself so beautifully. Also, I am sure that Nate would agree that you are the best thing that ever happened to him (what did you call yourself - a fuddy duddy dweeb?!?). Lots of love, E

  7. always inspired by you, em. miss you like crazy.

  8. I loved reading this...but honestly bristled a bit too when I read that advice! But I guess its good. Hard but good. I still have every single item of clothing both my babies have worn. I just can't get rid of it...even the ugly stuff. But ridding myself of other baggage is certainly in order. Thanks for the perspective. love you.

  9. Em, I'm a moron! I left a comment on your B&B post that was intended for this one...sorry!


  10. I sure love your family! You really are blessed with such a good husband and some of the cutest kids I know. You write beautifully. I'm still waiting for that book of yours...

  11. i have to say i'm proud of you for taking that advice so well. good advice, but hard to swallow at the same time. after we had that failed placement that was to be a little girl, i only had a small box of things meant for her. i kept it in the closet high on the shelf and wouldn't allow myself to look at it. it was even hard after we got charlie. then i finally told myself to stop being sad about that baby, and move on. as i went through it then i cried! (again, charlie was about 9 mo.) i gave several things as baby gifts and letting it go was hard, and really helped. i never dreamed i'd be blessed with little lucy. and like you, some of the cutest stuff i kept for myself. and i'm glad i did because it was fun to put it on lucy. but before we got lucy it really helped to finally go through it and get rid of that emotional baggage! what i've learned through infertility is that it comes in waves and stages. mourning the loss of my biological children was a huge step for me. and i guess i'm just rambling, but what i think i'm trying to say is what you're going through take courage and time and strength and faith. because you can't know for certain what the future holds but you can control how you handle it. and i think you are amazing. and i love you.