This weekend I decided it was time to bring my guinea pigs in for the winter. They live outside all spring and summer, but as the weather changes I prefer to have them inside where it’s snug and warm and I can keep an eye on them. I have three more than I did last year, a trio of girls to add to my pair of boys and my single boy, Teddy, who I would love to pair up, but who seems to want to fight any other guinea pig. The guinea pigs winter in the conservatory, which is by now nice and cool, but not freezing. However this year I was about two weeks late moving them as the conservatory was full of half made patio furniture (it was a lot harder to put together than I’d envisaged and even with two of us on it, we can’t work it out), three big bookcases waiting for when my office is decorated and ready to move into, my office desk (also waiting) and a table which is my mum’s and which we have inexplicably been storing for her for thirteen years now. Oh, and two bikes and a Victorian preparation table, which serves as our dining table, but which is almost impossible to dine at as it is far too low (many, many spilled drinks due to knees colliding with table later, I think we probably need something more suitable) and four chairs and hay and animal food…you get the picture. Anyway, All the guinea pigs are in now but it does look a bit like when Howard Carter discovered King Tut’s tomb, with everything stacked and crammed. In the end we moved my office desk upstairs to the half paper stripped new office. It was no mean feat, the desk is, I think, oak, vintage 1950s, very nice but surprisingly heavy when lifting it over banisters and the clutter in the hallway which is waiting to go to the tip ‘when I have time’. As we carried it into the office one of the legs caught on the Moses basket stand, which was propped in there. I’d intended October to be the month when I let go of the Moses basket, but here we are in November and it hasn’t happened. As the stand fell it sustained a tiny mark. It had been perfect before now. I had a weird rush of emotions over the damage, but the most overwhelming one was of emotional tiredness at having this stuff here still. Even though the Moses basket feels like the epicentre of pain as far as the baby things go, the things we had prepared for Matilda, I think I have now reached a point where I want to say goodbye to it. But then, I keep saying that and keep not doing it. The truth is, it hurts too much, it feels dis-loyal, it feels like letting her down and it feels wrong. I feel like the killer whale that dragged the rotten corpse of its baby around for all that time, except it’s not seventeen days, it’s nine and a half years.
I looked around and saw that I’d become more of a hoarder than a clutter keeper and that I had essentially walled myself into my own house with stuff , not just baby stuff, but padding around that baby stuff that would protect and repel, and ensure that I didn’t have to deal with the utter pain that is around it. And it is so painful. Even after all this time, it is still so painful it makes me question how to live with it, how to actually get on with this life. It is not like this every day. But some days are just unbelievably hard. So I decided that I had to get on with the process of removing that part of my life, cutting it out of me and sewing myself up again ready to recover. I feel like all I do is sew myself up again and try and recover from things, though that isn’t even the whole truth, either. I have a good life, I’m making headway with my career, I’m doing what I want to do, but still. Anyway, today was the day. Today’s not the day to deal with the Moses basket, that is coming, but today’s the day for the two big boxes of maternity clothes and baby bedding, bibs and baby grows etc. You might remember it was December 2018 when I last had a go at taking stuff to the charity shop and was successful. This time I looked at all the bedding, which I’d hoped to make some sort of memory quilt with, but which I now realise was probably just me procrastinating to avoid the pain. So I bought myself another small memory box and told myself that whatever I wanted to keep had to fit in this box. I had to choose the most important stuff. I ended up keeping the most memory rich Maternity clothes, but letting some of it go, and letting the bath, the bibs, the baby blankets and cot bedding, some toys, the baby carrier and my ovulation testing kit, go.
I kept a photographic record, which I’ll not bore you with, and everything went into bags and that was it. I kept smelling the clothes and how they smelt of the hospital and how close it all felt again, like opening a portal into another time, another me, when I was someone else. And then I put the bags in the boot of the car and I drove to the charity shop, like I had before, except I panicked at the last minute and drove straight past it, tried to do u turn in the road, stalled the car and ended up sitting like a stunned rabbit in the middle of the traffic. Then I really did do it, I just picked the stuff up and walked in with my big smile pasted on. The charity shop people were delighted to have so much stuff and before they could ask, or make any sort of statement that would mean I’d have to say ‘actually, she died’ which is generally a bit of a conversation stopper, I flew out again and jumped in the car and drove home. Then I had a fall out with my husband because he’d put an empty carton of margarine back in the fridge and it felt like the last straw and then I had a big cry and now I am here typing this and feeling like a fragile, pathetic thing. This is all so hard. Though I am relieved it’s gone, it is still hard.
If you’re reading this, and you are years down the road and still not able to tackle the baby’s room, you know what, there’s no law against taking a long time, we do get there in the end.
Now there’s just one set of things to go, the Moses basket, the bouncy chair and the reusable nappies, the bottles and steriliser. I think that’s it, and I am determined to have those gone to a better home by the end of the year. It feels like being eviscerated, but what else is there to do.