Ever since my firstborn could crawl we have had building bricks in the house…
And so when my second child came along, I invested in a large quality pack of wooden blocks, some of which are pictured here. In many of my memories the blocks are there - lovingly built into a tower by tiny hands, stored in baskets ready for play, or drawn on with marker pen, to make block pets.
These blocks defined my children’s childhood - in my eyes anyway. I can still hear the tall towers falling over and the laughter that ensured. I can remember sitting on the floor, next to clapping hands and grazed knees with shouts of again and again. I can remember nothing and everything about those blocks.
Over the last three years, the blocks got played with less and less and were replaced by their smaller friends, the lego brick. Now don’t get me wrong, I love lego but the nostalgia of these wooden blocks stayed with me, meaning I couldn’t let them go. And so they sat unused, in a basket in the corner of the room. Wrapped in memories whilst gathering dust, until finally I decided, that they needed to be played with, by little hands once again.
I spoke to the children and they were happy to pass them on. It seemed that they had moved on , even if I hadn’t. They sold quickly, not giving me time to change my mind but I still felt sadness - as if by letting these blocks out of my grasp, I was letting go of that era of childhood in our home. But it wasn’t really the bricks that I could’t let go, it was admitting that my children were growing up and those wooden blocks visually represented that.
I’ve since learnt, that one type of brick will be replaced by another and now we have baskets of lego being played with, by slightly bigger hands. And I know that one day, when the time comes to let the lego go, I will feel exactly the same about these smaller bricks, as I did about the larger ones. Because it is pieces of childhood that we are saying goodbye to, the pieces that we want to keep, in case we forget. But our children grow up, regardless of whether we hoard the toys that they once loved or not.
We could even convince ourselves that we are holding onto these toys, to pass onto our grandchildren, I’ve certainly done that with a handful of things. But I'm learning to recognise the difference in holding onto a thing, that really represents my child, rather than holding onto something because I don’t want to let it go; such as a Cars car, that was played with constantly for years, now taking up little space, in a box of keepsakes. Something that my child, when older, can decide in his own mind, if it is wanted or not.
Now compare that to something that I couldn’t make a decision about and so used the excuse of grandchildren, (that may or may not ever exist) to justify keeping it. All the while, passing it onto my adult child as clutter because I had been attached to it, not them.
And it’s perfectly normal to do both of these things, that’s just bittersweet motherhood. The pang for what once was and the eagerness, of what’s yet to come. Only we can decide, what we are ready to let go of and why we still need, to hold on but those pieces of childhood are there regardless.
They are a part of us all that can never be lost, they are laughter, they are tiny hands and grazed knees.