For the past two weeks, I've been at my Dad’s house cleaning it out from top to bottom in order for him to sell it. When I say "cleaning from top to bottom," I literally mean every closet, drawer, and cabinet -- including his attic. He and my Mom lived in this house -- my childhood home -- for thirty years. To say that there are thirty years of memories and memorabilia stored in the house is a huge understatement!
As my sister and I went through all of the boxes and bags stored in the attic, we found old books, magazines, many pictures, and even stuffed animals we had as children. We had two options: bring them to our own houses, or get rid of them.
Now, as a self-proclaimed pack rat, I assumed this would be a difficult decision. I thought that I would certainly want to save everything that represented my childhood. (My mother was just as bad I am about saving everything. Let me just say that thirty years of saving things makes for a very full attic and over-stuffed closets.) Yet as we worked each day, I began to realize that the dust-covered animals and old magazines that once seemed so important did not mean as much as I thought they would when they needed to be shoved into boxes and saved.
I began to wonder if I was doing my children a favor or a disservice by saving so many items from their childhood. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved seeing those things from my past, but after thirty years, most of it was in no condition to keep, and I ended up getting rid of the majority of the items that I once loved so much.
What slowed us down, though, what made us laugh and smile and remember great moments from our childhood were the pictures. It really did help me realize that, years down the road, those are the real treasures -- the pictures of kids just being kids, or the times when they were proud of their accomplishments. Oh, sure, I will still hang on to some artwork and report cards and other stuff I know my kids will want decades from now. However, in thirty years, the dusty stuffed animal they find in a box in the attic probably will not mean nearly as much as the picture of them playing with it. In all likelihood, much like my sister and I -- what they will really cherish are the pictures and videos that capture who they were at that moment in time.
Even though I did find things I will be taking home with me -- items I am grateful to have now -- I do not have to save everything to ensure my kids have great childhood memories. Because let’s be honest -- isn’t that what we all want? Moments frozen in time, showing us who we were so many years ago?
So don’t worry about what you look like when someone tries to take your picture. Stop searching for the perfect pose for your children. Just get out that camera and start capturing moments your children will cherish decades down the road when they, too, are clearing out their childhood home.