March 1, 2012



I have a confession to make: I am a serious packrat. As in, a certifiable, card-carrying packrat.

Mr. Splendid is undoubtedly nodding his head emphatically YES as he reads this.

When I was small, my mom would give me a box of fancy chocolates each year for Valentine’s Day. Four little handcrafted, edible works of art that must have tasted absolutely divine.

I honestly don’t remember, because I scarcely ate a bite of any of them.

Fast-forward from the mid-eighties to four years ago, when my parents were moving out of my childhood home. Mom called me in a tizzy, as she had just spent an entire afternoon cleaning out things from my old room. 

“Amy, why are there seven boxes of petrified chocolate here?” she wanted to know. 

My explanation? In my young mind, I truly feared that if I ever ate all of those chocolates, one day in the future I would find myself wanting a chocolate, but I wouldn’t have any left. And where would I be then?

If only I still had that kind of willpower when it comes to chocolate!

Nowadays, my desire to save has nothing to do with chocolate. It has to do with my children’s stuff. 

Teensy baby clothes.
Papers from school.
Locks of hair.
Lost teeth. (Yes, teeth.)

My son lost one of his top middle teeth last night, and I have to admit that I have shed more than a few tears over it. It has nothing to do with his snaggletoothed appearance, which is genuinely adorable. The fact is, I am struggling with the fact that this is just one more reminder that time marches on. He is almost entirely a boy now, shedding the very last vestiges of babyhood, little by little, day by day. I still remember so vividly comforting and rocking him when that little tooth first made its painful appearance some 6 years ago. I can recall shedding tears then, too, at the fact that those pearly whites meant the end of the gummy-faced infant smiles I so earnestly adored. 

Change, when it comes to children, is nothing if not bittersweet. It seems as parents we’re always marking milestones, emotionally dedicating ourselves to commit each of them to memory. The mama that I am can’t bear the thought of getting rid of the last few tiny newborn diapers. The special toys. And – yes – even the lost teeth. 

After the Tooth Fairy made her appearance last night, she was kind enough to give me the tooth to dispose of as I so choose. And, instead of throwing it out, I tucked it away in the box alongside the four other little teeth Jack has lost so far. 

Which begs the question: What compels me to stockpile things like I do?

After some reflection, I have come to one conclusion: I do this because, deep down, I often battle a fear that what is behind me is better than what lies ahead. Uncertainty of the things to come causes me to cling to tangible pieces of the past.

Can you relate?

I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with preserving boxes full mementos from beautiful times gone by. Life is full of moments that deserve to be documented with keepsakes and souvenirs that connect the people we are today with the ones we were in days gone by.

But to strive to cling to those things out of love – not fear – that is the key.

So. Back to the teeth. I can almost hear the voice of a teenaged Jack, stumbling upon that little white box one of these days. “Ugh – Mom! Gross! Why did you save these?”

On that day I want to have a much different explanation to offer than the one I gave my mother after she found my stockpile of uneaten Valentine candy. My reply?

Because I love you, sweet boy. 
All the way to the moon and back.

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11


Love this post? Let's keep in touch!

Subscribe for free to have PS delivered straight to your inbox.

, ,

12 Responses to Packrat

  1. Jill March 1, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    What a beautiful, well-written post! I often find myself thinking the exact same things. Despite my best efforts, I am still hoarding momentos of their childhood but after reflecting I know that it is out of love. Beautiful pictures by the way! Thanks for sharing!

    Jill @ Create.Craft.Love.

  2. The Smiths March 1, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    Aww, this post made me cry. I do the same thing. I keep everything and always have since I was little. I have a 4 month old now, so I know my need to hold on to things is just going to get worse.

  3. Laura @ Laura's Crafty Life March 1, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    So much of what you wrote resonates with me. I am a packrat too. But I think it has a lot to do with my mom passing away when I was only 8. I have a hard time letting go of “things”. And I have the mental block of – what if I need this one day, just as you did with the chocolate. So instead of enjoying whatever it is in the moment, I often end up wasting something holding on to it for a ‘special’ day. I have been trying to be better about it. It is hard to change old habits though! 🙂

  4. DeAnn @ The SIP project March 1, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    Very sweet post! I find it hard to let go of things too but have deiced if I am going to keep them it has to be organized in a visually pleasing way.

  5. Jennifer March 1, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    Beautiful post Amy! Very sweet. I am also a packrat, but I usually do it out of fear of not having enough. If I get rid of those boxes, toys, clothes, random stuff I know I will need it eventually and maybe at that time I won’t be able to afford to buy new, more, different.

    I think it’s sweet to save the baby teeth! 🙂

  6. Full Plate Designer March 1, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    Wow! Thanks for the lightbulb moment for me today. That really hits a cord with me and my stack of my little boy’s preschool papers I know I need to get rid of but just can’t seem to do it…I’ll hold on to a few out of love and chunk the rest to let go of the fear. Here’s to a fabulous future! 🙂

  7. Samantha March 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    awe – i was welling up reading this. i could have written this myself – totally! i am so sentimental, even when it comes to my children shedding their teeth. my 7 year old lost one of his top middle teeth this week too! it was hanging in there for a LONG time and, secretly, i hoped it would never come out. i love his tiny teeth and they remind me of the days when he was teething as an infant and how i cradled him all night when it was coming through the gum. he was my first so it was my first experience having a teething baby. ahhhh, motherhood is such a mix of emotions!

    i am NOT trying to promote my blog in here at all, but i did want to share a tip about saving your children’s teeth in a precious way. i am all about keepsakes when it comes to my babies, and you sound much like me. i found this GREAT tooth fairy keepsake and immediately bought 3 for my children (7, 5 and 2) so when we lose a tooth i am always prepared. and their sweet little baby teeth are in a treasured place where i can visit them anytime i want!

    check it out here!…

    and your son’s face look absolutely precious with those missing teeth! 🙂

  8. Jess March 2, 2012 at 12:55 am #

    You are so sweet. And your little boy is BEYOND adorable! I’ve recently been called a hoarder {by my boyfriend whom I live with} I think I much prefer to be called a packrat…it just sounds better…(if that’s possible?) I feel like as crafters and things we are passionate about (our little ones included) you can’t help but hold on to those things! Keep collecting!

    x0 Jess

  9. Jeni March 2, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    Beautifully said.

  10. Amanda @ Serenity Now March 2, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    Beautiful, beautiful post. And I can soooo relate. On many levels. 😉

  11. Jennifer March 3, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

    My mom saved all my baby teeth. For 28 years. She gave them to me and I threw them away. But it was important to her. I’ll save my kids’ teeth, too, I’m sure.

  12. Sarah March 22, 2012 at 1:08 am #

    Thanks for this post. My first born lost his first tooth tonight. I’m going to go cry now. registered & protected

© 2009-2016. Positively Splendid. All rights reserved.