Friday, March 15, 2013

Momentos - What's the Point?

I recently responded to a Tweet from @ADadCalledSpen, who also blogs as Dad and Proud, or That Spencer Bloke. (Way to confuse me there, mate.)

He was mentioning that even though some of his kids' photos are blurry, he was torn about throwing them away. Most of the commenters on Twitter agreed with him in some form or other, and I have to admit, I've been there. I remember the first official portrait we had done of the Queen(ager); even though some of the proofs weren't brilliant, I hated not to buy every single one because it seemed like I was, in effect, throwing her away. Nonsense of course, and I didn't succumb to that oh-so-obvious manipulation of the parental heart strings.

I have Tupperware boxes by the erm, boxload, of kid memorabilia. Until they're about ten, they come home at the end of the school year with giant trash/bin bags of every last thing they did during the year. Even though I knew most of it would be sums and stuff, I still felt obliged to go through it and keep the "special" bits and pieces. Admittedly, with child number three and dwindling shelf space, the 9 year old's bag comes in through the front door and straight out the back.
Every so often I try to cull; I find that with a gap of a year or more, I more readily ask myself "Why did I keep that?' Now I find that if I ask "For whom am I keeping this?" it helps too. (Not that I talk to myself like that but "Who am I keeping this for?" didn't quite flow.) It also helps to ask how many times, in the last five to ten years have I actually looked at the objects or shown them to someone else. Usually, they sit there year after year, daring me to throw them out and follow my calling to the Unfit Mothers' Club.

One thing that spurs me on to memento minimalism is the fact that, at some point, they will be handed down to my children, who will probably do the same as most adults when handed a pile of their kid crap - throw it out. I remember the year my in-laws drove a load of boxes a thousand miles to our new house. The boxes contained tons of the Ball & Chain's stuff, most of which he had no memory of and the rest he didn't really care about. I think I kept more of it than he would have, but it definitely served as proof that you really can keep too much.

Anyone else agonize over this?


  1. Bother. Just wrote a comment and Blogger lost it. The gist of it was... instead of keeping lots of stuff, take photos of it. Craft items do go a bit grotty in storage, but a photo of that fruit bat made from a toilet roll and a pair of tights (yes, really) or the snake made out of a bicycle inner tube (yes, again), lasts very well.

  2. After the first few thousand coloring pages started coming home in preschool, I made an executive decision that I would only keep things that were generated by my own kids - in other words, original art or original words, not coloring or math pages or fill-in-the-blank pages. I kept things they'd written or drawn that I thought were funny, original, or touching (example: a poem my son wrote about missing our house in Arizona.) I figured they would enjoy having a few things that reminded them of their thoughts and feelings when they were small, but they probably wouldn't care how well they could write the letter 'p' when they were 6 years old. We still have a couple of Rubbermaid bins full of 'stuff,' but it's approximately one per kid - and at the moment, it's all locked up in storage in Texas!

  3. I went through this to some extent when I emigrated actually, only it was my own crap that I'd kept. I wanted to ship as little as possible to the US, so a lot got thrown out.

    I did write a long blog post about my emotional need to keep a British VHS of Snoopy Come Home even though it's completely useless on so many levels.

    I left a few things back with my parents, which I'll pick up one day. I'm now in the wonky position of not having many mementos while I know my husband has a whole back-catalogue of his life lingering in his parents' basement.

    Luckily I'm into photography now so I can just fill up external hard-drive with amateur snaps of everything I ever do :)

  4. As one who might be viewed as "unsentimental" by some, I know exactly what you are talking about. I only had the one though, so I kept a lot of it. And, in fact, cried, when Hubby broke the pot with the paper flower in it...for the third time!

    And yes, I re-glued it back together and put it in a safer spot.

  5. I'm a hoarder, and by the time I had kids their stuff had to compete with my collection of bottle caps and every letter I had ever written (remember letters, on paper? they took up space). Long story short, I learned to throw things out--my own, and theirs--though I did keep a few special items, which remain with me still.

    And now I am going through the same thing with my grandchildren.

  6. My son died of cancer when he was 29 and all the things I have of him that are important fit in a smallish, square, neatly decorated, box. It's more than enough and all I need.

  7. Irene - so sorry for your loss, and yes, those things are definitely worth keeping.

  8. Yes, I have definitely agonised over the children's things and always have to sneak a grandchild's picture off the fridge when they're not looking because it seems so heartless to get rid of them but they do pile up and I run out of space.
    I wish my children would collect all the things that are boxed up in my loft!!!!!!! I have been moaning for years!
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

  9. Lord yes, I agonize all the time!My rule of thub is to try to keep only those things that say/show what my child was like at that time of their life. Eamples would be a self portrait or a story about what they want to be when they grow up. The generic drawing or school work gets tossed.

  10. So far I have been moderately good at throwing out things. I still have a lot of lil L's baby clothes that now also have been worn by the Pea. I plan to have their (my) favourite pieces turned into teddy bears. One for me, one for each of them, one for their Grandma.

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  12. So true, Toni. I am the sentimental sort who would keep used candy wrappers (only when imbued with heartwarming memories, of course), but I also realize that there is a limit. In a few years I won't remember what event spurred me to keep that memento, and candy wrappers aren't very appealing anyway.


  13. I love family photos. Everything else, however, is fair game for throwing out. I've been culling a lot recently and the vast majority of things I can't even remember what they were once I've dropped them off at Goodwill.


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