When you’re getting married, all you think about are weddings. When you’re pregnant, all you think about are babies. When you become a mother, all you think about are your kids (and sleep and poop). When you’re moving, all you think about is how much crap you have.
The amount of stuff I’ve amassed over the last seven years in my current house is grotesque. There are boxes in the closets that never got unpacked from the last time we moved. I don’t even know what’s inside any of them! There’s so much stuff for my eyes to take in from room to room, closet to closet, and corner to corner, that I can hardly see anything at all, which is sad because hidden in the mess are some beautiful symbols and keepsakes of my life, my kids’ lives, and our family’s life together.
When our realtor first toured the house a few months ago, her fresh eyes gave me fresh eyes, and I saw with devastating clarity everything I’ve overlooked, forgotten, and stopped noticing while raising my two boys. I felt embarrassed and anxious. I felt guilty. I felt not good enough.
Of course, it reminded me of motherhood. It made me think about how chaotic our days sometimes are, how distracted I often am, and how time and time again I miss out on or don’t pay attention to or lose sight of what’s important because there’s too much crap in the way.
A few nights ago, I discovered one of the boys has plantar warts on the bottom of his foot. It’s common in kids and easily treated, but I had no idea they were there. How did I not know? How did I not see them? The experience left me feeling embarrassed, anxious, guilty, and not good enough. For better or for worse, it gave me fresh eyes.
I’m not a bad person for having too much stuff, and I’m not a bad mother for having a kid with a wart (or two or…never mind), but physical, mental, and emotional clutter is powerful. As frightening and intimidating as fresh eyes are, they’re necessary. They force us to sift through the chaos and commotion of life to see with clarity what’s important, whether it’s a photograph, a journal, a candle, or a kid.
Most of my time lately has been spent pondering one seemingly simple question: Toss or keep? I’m known in my family as The Tosser (the rest of my brood are straight-up hoarders), but even for me, arriving at the best answer is sometimes difficult. Every opportunity for fresh eyes is another chance to get it right and – if I’m lucky – end up with less stuff and fewer distractions on the other end of this move.
Speaking of the other end, I look forward to when we’re in a new house and all I can think about is where to display my growing owl collection, because I’m pretty sure I’m going to need their wisdom (and fresh eyes) over and over again.