A GRACE FILLED JOURNEY • Saving Her First Portrait Of Mommy

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Although my dad might argue I spent my entire adolescence as a hoarder, I can’t say that I’m really much of a “saver” anymore.

It’s probably true that I had a lot of “stuff” growing up. I collected playing cards, magazines about Days of Our Lives, knick knacks that forever had to be dusted, every Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins book ever written, Beanie Babies, oh, and all my prom and bridesmaid dresses, just to name a few.

Over the years, I’ve purged most of those things, donating many to organizations where I hope they will be put to good use by someone else.

And even though you might not notice if you looked around my house, I get tired of clutter. Get me in the right mood, and I will toss just about anything. When Charley was born, she inherited the room I grew up in, which was filled with some of said “hoarded” items, and I didn’t have much trouble pitching high school notebooks, college newspaper articles and even some old scrapbooks that I’m sure no one was ever going to want to look at.

Apparently, I should get rid of some more treasured items, though, because every time Kyle helps me clean, he finds something new to add to our piano top, where he has proudly displayed my Old Settlers Queen and high school tennis MVP trophies. Maybe we can replace them with some of Charley’s someday.

So, it’s pretty easy for me to part with things that were mine, even if I was very partial to them at one point in time. However, I struggle much more to get rid of things that belonged to Grace and Charlotte.

During the pandemic, I did manage to box up clothes they had outgrown and donate them to Hearts United in Litchfield, but I often look back and think about who bought it for them or how cute they looked in it. I have the same problem with toys and stuffed animals, especially the ones that have come from special people in our lives. 

But the hardest thing for me to get rid of is their artwork. When Grace started preschool, I saved every single paper she came home with in the beginning. I carefully put everything into a folder intending to put it all in a binder one day.  When Grace started preschool, she was able to help with some of her artwork. Her aide would even mark which papers she did, and those I have definitely saved. But in her later school years, Grace became unable to help with the work. And I tended not to save pictures that were drawn and colored by aides. So, it was a little easier not to save everything, and I still hope to put her papers in a binder when I get a chance.

Things were different when Charley started creating her own masterpieces. Although I started off saving every piece of art she created, it quickly became evident that it would fill our house, and I do tire of clutter.

So, I began saving a few things I really liked and tossing away others. During the pandemic, Kyle helped me install cork board along the wall in the playroom where we can display her creations, and its’ still easy to change out and replace with new ones. 

She also loves painting with watercolor, and this summer, we have been letting them dry and then dropping them in the mail to grandparents and other special people. I hear her artwork is on display on refrigerators all over the area!

And while I don’t tend to save many of her creations at home anymore, I have one framed on my desk that she drew on a notepad. It’s the very first picture she ever drew of me, and I think she really did a great job.

When she starts preschool this fall, I will probably start another folder of some of my favorite papers to save. And even though I won’t save everything, I’ll always have room for her favorite masterpieces.

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