2014 was supposed to be the year we finally cleaned out the garage, plowed through it, got rid of stuff, rearranged, organized. It’s a big space, double deep, perfect for an artsy hang out for the girls, a place where oils and pastels, papier-mâché and Mod Podge would dwell in creative bliss alongside a big screen TV and the Wii; a place where skis and bikes would line up nicely on a hanging wall system next to the rake and the broom and the saw. There’d be a comfy couch to sink into, high quality speakers.
Instead it’s the same cold, concrete space jam-packed with the life’s props. Hastily discarded skateboards, bikes flipped on their sides, helmets, pogo sticks and roller skates from rides around the neighborhood and days at the park. Folding chairs left unfolded from a birthday party. Random duffle bags half empty slump next to semi-rolled sleeping bags and mud caked cleats. A tattered, purple kite, its strings left tangled by the last child who flew it into the wind, rests against the wall. Long forgotten art projects – a jungle diorama, tiny hands imprinted on fading construction paper – in a pile on the shelf.
This weekend, I did not write, even when my husband had the kids to himself for a few hours. I watched the rain pelting down outside my window, carving rivers down the panes. When it was done, the gray sky split open along its seams, spilling out its bright blue insides. The slanting autumn sun pranced in and out of the clouds. The thin branches of the Japanese maple shivered in the light wind, its fallen, yellow leaves sticking fast to the driveway. I decided to go out to the garage.
The disarray is dizzying, but I always zero in on what is mine: the motherhood project. Evidence of early motherhood is everywhere. Clear plastic bins hold little girl clothes I’ve kept for 12 years. I sort through twirly flowered dresses and sweet applique t-shirts for the ones that might fit Lilah, now three. I drag a box holding plush toys, stacking toys and annoying bleeping toddler toys to the car for Goodwill. An outgrown five-point car seat lolls silently against the stumbling, energy-sucking refrigerator next to a very old, very used Pack-n-Play. I snap photos to post on Craigslist.
In the middle of it all is the rocker, its sage green cushions faded and stained. In this chair I’ve soothed all three of my girls, nursed for endless hours and read books again and again and again. This is where I held my babies until they fell asleep, until their tears dried, until their fevers eased. This is where I tickled them until they almost peed, sang Itsy Bitsy Spider and Shady Grove and Blackbird.
I nestle down into the cushions. Gently gliding back and forth, I let the big, hot tears run down my face. I miss the baby days, wishing I could go back because I’m not quite sure yet how to go forward without them on my lap, their little fingers tangled in my hair, their cheeks pressed against my chest. In those minutes of remembering, I know with certainty that it’s time to give the rocker away. It’s time to begin the next phase of this motherhood project, the one filled with tweens and teens, a tag-a-long younger sister and their midlife mama.
Maybe once I give away the rocker, everything else that needs to go will follow. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll finally get around to that garage project.
This post is part of the Reverb 14 December daily writing challenge, a series of reflective writing prompts designed to help let go of 2014 and move into 2015 with intention. Today’s prompt: What unfinished projects from 2014 are you willing to release now?