There are few words sweeter to parent’s ears than, “I made this for you!” said through sweet, smiling cheeks. We’ve all gotten them…those precious gifts from our children made with macaroni noodles, paperclips and feathers. Our children’s eyes gleam as they proudly hand us some creation they’ve spent anywhere from six minutes to six hours on their bedroom floor inventing, they’re fingers still coated in glitter, glue seeping from the edges of their masterpiece.
Now I’ll admit that over the years I’ve occasionally stashed said gooey mess in a hidden place until their back is turned. I’ve shoved pretty pictures into the bottom of the trash can many a time, burying the fancy paper project deep below the dinner scrapings, only to have some heartbroken three year old discover it through the plastic garbage bag…damn clear plastic…at which time I feign surprise and wonder how it got there, fishing it out, coffee grounds and all. Don’t act life you’ve not done it… what am I supposed to do, keep every scrap they ever hand over? I know, I know…yes.
So a few years back I began to keep a Rubbermaid tub in my closet…the kind usually reserved for moving day and Christmas decorations…and every time a treasured item wears out its welcome on the front of the fridge, I toss it in the tub. And when that tub overflowed it grew into another until I now have three totes of crafty memories keeping me grounded to my past, and a colorful history of my children’s unconditional love for me.
Occasionally I weed through it all in an elimination attempt. I pull it all out on to the living room floor and dump it into a heap, plop down in the middle of it all and let my fingers do the wandering through time. I find things I didn’t find before, pull out a beaded string necklace and pull it over my head, clip a school photo pin on my shirt, don a purple sailor hat and a rubber band bracelet and strut around all afternoon watching the gleeful faces of the creators as they see me put to use their well loved gifts.
But those totes mean so much more than just a keepsake…they document the many children we’ve seen come and go, some of them just for a few weeks, some of them for years. I’ve held on to report cards documenting the ups and downs of children in care; school projects they should have given their own parents; mother’s day cards not meant for me, but for the mother who didn’t show up for the visit… from children we’ve not seen in years and probably never will.
Through those totes I’ve kept some portion of them with me,those kids I miss so much…mine to take out any time I want, gaze warmly at the construction paper evidence of their love for me…even if it was for a short time. I can hear the sweet whisperings of children from my past that I remember still…that I love still…smiling sweetly up and saying, “I made this for you.”