By Contributing Mama Daphne Biener
Not long ago my daughters discovered that some of their precious art work goes pretty much straight into the recycling box. Never mind that it is a carefully culled, minuscule fraction of what they create. Because at this point I have transformed, in their minds, into a callous, uncaring cleaning machine tossing masterpieces to the curb in a willy-nilly quest to de-clutter our home.
I categorically deny this characterization.
They may not know it, but there is a towering stack of artwork in the basement. I have saved countless samples from each child in an attempt to document the miraculous transformation from scribbles to stick figures to fairies and families.
There are also a few other, er, items of memorabilia that I have saved. With the passing of time these items have become so heavy with wistful reminiscence, so magically infused with nostalgia, that I am no longer able to throw them away. Despite my deep belief that they really need to be thrown away.
But perhaps it’s beyond my control. After all, they say that heredity is destiny…
About ten years ago I was helping my mother clean out our childhood home when I came across an old medication vial. Opaque and orange and rattling. I popped that puppy open, sending 60 minuscule baby teeth dancing across the floor. It was gruesome.
“Why Mom? Why?” I cried in distress, wringing my hands and looking tortured.
My mother, apparently a secret collector of creepy carnage, looked wistfully down at the pile of teeth. She smiled as she rubbed her fingers back and forth over a disembodied ponytail tied with a pink ribbon. I ran screaming, before zombies crawled out from under the bed to join her.
60 teeth. Mine, my brother’s, my sister’s, all commingled in one ancient sinister vial. A 20-year old hunk of blond toddler hair. Memorabilia sure, if you’re Freddy Kruger’s mom. It was gross. Truly gross.
Now before everyone jumps to my mother’s defense, I should offer up a little confession: Upstairs, in my nightstand drawer, is a baggie of baby teeth. Only eight so far but if I’m being honest, my insanity shows no sign of stopping.
It started innocently enough; my baby girl lost a tooth. A tooth! A tiny piece of the precious time capsule that took us from aching baby gums to gaping smiles to giant crooked teeth fighting for space in her sweet little mouth.
I should blame my mother. This propensity for creepiness is clearly stamped into my DNA.
Oh, while I’m confessing, there is one more thing. And if you were even the slightest bit turned off by the baggie of teeth, you might want to log off here.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with the joy of watching that second pink line appear. You may even have spent 3 minutes hovering over a plastic stick yourself, waiting for confirmation of your seat on the wild nine month ride that ends with your being interested in reading things that mama birds tend to write.
Every home is different, but one might imagine that within the subsequent moments of the appearance of that life-changing line there are tears, maybe some hugs, perhaps even some hesitation over the enormity of the moment. But certainly, amidst the excitement one thing definitely happens: that plastic bearer of baby news makes it into trash.
Except sometimes, it doesn’t.
Maybe what happens is that it sits there on the counter flaunting its wondrous news for a week or so and then maybe it gets stashed in a hasty moment into the cupboard behind the dental floss where it sits and sits and quietly, innocuously, sits some more.
I know. It’s not pretty. I’ve tried a number of times over the years to throw it away, but I can’t. The power in the pee stick is strong, and I cower before that power.
It’s bad, I know. But no one can say that I’m a ruthless recycler of nostalgia.