For almost twenty years I’ve moved one particular tote to every apartment and house I’ve lived in. It was one of the bigger totes I carried from the car to the basement. I was able to carry it by myself, but it was almost too heavy for me to lift.
How many times did I huff and puff while carrying it up and down the stairs?
In our last house, I kept it in a spot that I could easily access. When our nieces came to visit, I’d pull the tote out of the closet.
They played with my Barbies and Cabbage Patch dolls. For days (weeks!) after they left, my husband and I would find little plastic high heel shoes all over the place. After awhile I stopped saving them … those shoes never stayed on the oddly angled Barbie feet anyway!
For almost twenty years I carried this tote around with one thing in mind…a future child.
I lugged it from house to house knowing that one day my child would delight in my dolls, would care for them as tenderly as I had, would beg me to go to the store to buy new clothes for the dolls.
I was willing to carry around this weight for that child.
Recently a friend shared that she is collecting Barbie doll clothes for her granddaughter. I saw the request and didn’t respond. But that request gnawed at me.
None of our nieces are really into Barbies. What good are they doing anyone by sitting packed up in that tote?
A few days later I responded to my friend’s post asking if she might want some Barbies in addition to the clothes?
So, over the weekend, I pulled the tote out of the utility room. I couldn’t send the Barbies across the country in the nude, so I went through the clothes and dressed each of them. I recalled the whole set of Barbie and the Rockers that I once owned…most of the set is long gone, but there were a few outfits and accessories that reminded me of the hours I used to play with them. I found myself smiling remembering some of my favorite Barbie outfits and wondering if this friend’s granddaughter would enjoy them as much as I did.
I packed up the Barbies and the clothes. Then, at the last minute, I decided to clean up one of my Cabbage Patch dolls — Jonathan — and included him in the box too.
Then I cleaned up Emily — my first Cabbage Patch doll — and got her ready to send to another friend whose granddaughters often spend time at her house.
Later I sent a text to my sister-in-law asking if her youngest likes to play with dolls — she does! So I cleaned up my last two Cabbage Patch dolls for her.
In that tote was also my Little House on the Prairie book set, so I checked in with a different sister-in-law to make sure the girls didn’t have it, and shipped that off too.
By the time I was done, I was left with two kinda creepy dolls that I didn’t feel like sending to someone I love (how am I old enough to have creepy dolls?!), my clarinet, and a small box with papers, artwork, and other school memorabilia. I moved those things to the closet and put the big tote back in the utility room with the other empty totes we used for moving.
At first I was a little sad to be going through my dolls, but each time I cleaned them up, got the clothes organized, and started packing them, I began to feel a little lighter. Soon, I was looking for other items to ship.
I’m grateful for all the joy those toys gave me throughout my childhood. I’m grateful that each one is one their way to a new home, to a new child who will love and care for them. I’m grateful that instead of keeping those toys boxed up in a dark room, I chose to bring them out into the light. By bringing them out into the light, I feel lighter.
For some reason I needed to carry that weight around for 20 years. I carried that weight around for a child I imagined. This weekend I released that weight for the life I’m living.