Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hand-me-downs

I think I know eight pregnant women right now. And a close friend has a one month old. And there are lots of slightly older kids. It's weird thinking about getting rid of things, now. There are a few ways I can go about maintaining sanity in my house. I can ensure that we have a small enough number of items that cleaning it takes very little time or I can allow items to creep in and spend more and more and more time cleaning. It's time to purge.

This is more complicated now that the stuff is "Shanna and Calli's". I really shouldn't just raid their stuff all the time getting rid of things. That's rude. Sorta. Letting them make my life shitty is far more rude let me tell you. I have no fear that the river of stuff will run out. More will come, inevitably. They age out of things anyway. How do I allow them to form sentimental attachments and yet bow to the inevitability of life that stuff comes and must go? I think we are going to go through stuff today and make piles. Shanna loves giving gifts. How can we be generous with our bounty?

This leads to all kinds of maybe-not-polite-but-necessary corollary conversations. One pregnant friend has few friends and no family. Others have many friends and large, wealthy families. We have people in our lives who have very different levels of need. That makes a very large difference in how I behave with people. I offer to treat friends who are barely surviving. I let friends who have more money than me pay for me. I smile and say thank you. I don't offer to return the favor. For me I am very ok with accepting favors from people who have a lot to give. Sure, no problem. I struggle with allowing friends who have more need than me do things for me. It's complicated.

I feel like it is important for me to be very clear what my values are and why. I'm teaching how to be a part of society. What part do I play? To have great privilege is to have great responsibility. What does that mean? What does that mean in terms of our life? What does it mean that the people around us have equal and sometimes greater privilege? How do I think responsibility trickles around us?

Part of what I am teaching is responsibility to the household. It is not fair that I have to spend so many hours cleaning up messes I am not making. If she can't clean up after herself we need to start scaling back so that she can. She needs to learn how to take care of the amount of space she can handle. I need to give her a smaller scale so that she can succeed. Right now I am failing her by giving her a task that is far too large for her. I am not properly scaffolding her learning experience. That's fine. We have pregnant friends.

Today is going to be one of those structured learning days, as I am starting to think of them. I have a specific lesson I am working towards. We are all responsible for maintaining our stuff. How much stuff do you actually think you can handle? I am going to do a preliminary pull of stuff that will be good to give away. We'll negotiate from there.

It's going to be a long day. It will be a good day. As long I remain patient today will be fantastic. Shanna is really happy to work with me towards goals like this, at least for now. She likes making decisions. She likes being generous. It makes her feel good to think about other people being happy to "get" her stuff. I talk about how neat it is that objects can take on a history and a story. "Oh this used to belong to ____ and then it went to _____ and now it is _______'s." We have things like that. We tell those stories often. I constantly talk about the origins of objects. Shanna thinks her grandparents in Texas are the most generous people in the world because most of her favorite clothes and toys arrive magically from them. She thinks about it a lot. I have feelings about that but I keep my mouth shut about all of them. What I say to the kids is, "Your grandparents love you." That's it.

Shanna and I will have fun going through the clothes pile and deciding which pregnant woman needs that item more. She gives good "why's". Not all needs are financial or material. With most people I expect the story of items to be lost. When the story of an item is important I have to be careful who I give it to. We have a lot of clothing from Noah's family. We may be the second or third in hand made clothes. That story matters to me. It's not particularly rational. This is the story my children are being born into. This is what they have of their family on that side. I want them to know where it goes once it leaves them. I just do. That means I need to be careful where I send it.

I want to send the clothes to people who will take pictures of their children wearing it and give them to me. I want to be able to send them to Noah's mom and show that things she made are still being used and loved. That is all the family relationship I will ever have. That depresses the fucking shit out of me. I feel like I come from nothing and I will become nothing and there will be no trace of me. I have no connection to anything that will outlast me. I want other people who touch me to understand that the touch carries on. They are still actively doing good in the world by having done this thing years ago. Thank you for doing that. It's a thing. Maybe it isn't a rational thing. But this is what I have right now. It's the best I can do.

So when I think about pressuring my daughter into going through her belongings so we can give them away it's kind of a loaded thing. This is going to be a long and emotional day. Which things can I give to people and have no expectation of the story carrying on? Which things do I have an attachment to the story moving on? How will I deal with it?

This is why I normally give stuff to a thrift store and come home and cry. Letting go is hard. I do understand attachment. I just can't function and be a nice person when I have to clean all the f'in time. No. It's just not necessary. We have to figure this out. Ok. I think I have girded my loins and set my purpose and all that shit. Time to go mommy. Oy.

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