By Lisa Manterfield
Spring has sprung and, as usual, I find myself in a cleaning and decluttering frenzy.
I’ve made trips to the thrift store with bags of clothes that are too big, too small, or just plain ugly. I’ve purged my kitchen of all those “good idea” gadgets, rusted cake pans, and broken plates that I’ll get around to gluing “someday.” I’ve even parted with a box full of books, which is a big give-up for me. And I’ve been eyeing the curtains in my living room and thinking about throwing them in the washer.
I go through this every year and find it very therapeutic. But in the past, it’s also been a dangerous pursuit, fraught with emotional landmines.
One year, while rummaging through a rarely used cupboard, I came across some baby-related stuff. I’d been getting rid of all those things bit-by-bit, and I was fairly sure they were all gone. So it was a deflating moment when I unearthed some items that had slipped through the net.
This find was particularly difficult, as it was the glossy information packet we received from our first fertility clinic. It had a picture of a beautiful glowing baby on the front and was filled with encouraging stories, happy family photos, and explanations as to how the expert team would help us build the family of our dreams. Inside I found test results, ovulation charts, and notes written in my own handwriting, reminding me of where I’d been. The whole thing reeked of hope and it stirred up some of those old emotions.
To my credit, I ditched the whole thing without getting upset. I didn’t keep one scrap of paper. There was another, similar item in the cupboard, too, but now I can’t even remember what it was, because I tossed that out as well.
After that, I went to my bookshelves and pulled out the Knitting for Two book I’d been keeping. In addition to the maternity cardigan I started (that was still somewhere in the house) I’d actually used the book to knit a sweater for a friend’s baby. I only did it once, because it was so painful, and I realized that it was part of the hair shirt I chose to wear for a while, when I was forcing myself to be around other people’s babies, and to be “genuinely happy” about pregnancy announcements. This was long before I figured out my need to grieve and heal, so that I could genuinely be happy for someone else’s news. At that time, I had opted to torture myself by knitting from my baby’s book. So out it went.
My purging of baby stuff was a gradual process. At first, I couldn’t get rid of anything. After a while I threw out the assorted test kits, and the doctor info, moving slowly towards throwing out baby clothes (and even a maternity top a friend had given me.) The fertility and pregnancy books went next, and so it continued.
I’ve no doubt that there will be other landmines scattered around my house, even now, and that they’ll come to the surface some day, but now I know I can handle them. And I know I can throw them away with no (or little) love lost.
Just a reminder that the ebook versions of both I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home: How One Woman Dared to Say No to Motherhood and Life Without Baby: Surviving and Thriving When Motherhood Doesn’t Happen are only $2.99 for the month of March. Available on most online retailers.