School papers and similarly sentimental stuff

During my three daughters’ school years, I kept all the papers and projects they brought home from school. Everything. Spelling tests, stories, handwriting practice (they did that back then), certificates earned for field day and perfect attendance, report cards for each quarter of each year.

I kept it all. Times three. All in cardboard boxes in a storage space beneath the house we lived in for the duration of the girls’ school years. Lots of stuff, lots of boxes.

In 2007, Jim and I moved from the house where the girls grew up to a bigger house. No downsizing for us! We moved into a house twice the size of the one where we raised our daughters. (Because we were dazzled by its beauty … and history … and potential to be the best Grandma House ever.)

Which meant I didn’t have to get rid of all those precious papers and projects when we moved. I simply packed them all into bigger, better containers — big, black, 24-gallon Rubbermaid containers … with lids! For storing in the garage at our new place for safekeeping until Brianna, Megan, and Andrea had settled into a home with storage of their own.

My plan was that when the time was right for each daughter, we’d go through those school papers and they could pick and choose what they wanted to keep for their own. At their own house.

They never wanted top keep any of it — any! — for their own. No matter how many times I asked throughout the years.

So I kept it for my own. At my house. For twelve years those Rubbermaid containers jam-packed with the precious evidence of my girls’ childhood day-in-day-out duties sat high on a shelf in my garage.

Until earlier this year. When we decided to move into a smaller house. One half the size of what we were in.

This move meant I absolutely had to get rid of the school papers. The girls still didn’t want them. Any of them.

My head told me to just throw it all away. After twelve years of not looking at the stuff, there’s certainly no need now.

My heart told me to go through each box. Because, you know, there’s surely some stuff we should hold on to.

I listened to my heart. And went through all four boxes one by one, piece by piece.

It took hours and hours on multiple days. I took photo after photo to text each girl things I found funny or poignant. Tears marked many of the papers as I laughed so hard I cried over my goofy girls’ take on things or lamented the loss of those oh-so special years with my three brilliant, beautiful babies.

I did find some stuff I should hold on to. I chose to keep report cards and certificates. From all twelve years of school … times three. Proof of how my girls progressed (and sometimes regressed), with comments from teachers underscoring the process along the way. And I kept one art object apiece plus a handful of silly or sweet pieces that tugged at my heart.

I also kept a couple things related to my progress along the way. Because in those tubs o’ school stuff (and some non-school stuff, too) were glimpses of how my daughters might grade me if they’d been asked. Peeks into what they thought of me way back when I was pretty much a screaming mimi of a mama (over)directing and (over)protecting the daily doings of three headstrong women-to-be.

Among those sorts of items that I kept are proof of Andrea’s confidence in my hair cutting abilities (all images enlarge when clicked) …

Proof from Brianna she was willing to pay for my love (from my account, that is) …

And an especially sweet school report from Megan, the daughter who disliked me the very most as a teen, that she liked me, she really liked me — at one point in time …

Some sentimental things are worth holding on to, even when downsizing to a drastic degree. So I held on to those and more.

Not much more, though. In fact, I managed to condense what most mattered from those four Rubbermaid containers to fit in a shoebox. A shoebox that doesn’t take up much space. A shoebox now in the storage space beneath our new house.

(A shoebox that, I must confess, makes me chuckle as I imagine Brianna, Megan, and Andrea arguing over ownership of when I’m gone … as they realize they should have taken the massive, memory-packed containers when I offered, when there were more than enough to go around.)