It’s been on my to-do list for days but I haven’t been motivated to cross it off. I need a looming deadline to create a sense of urgency. The book drive ends in two days. Now, I think, I have a reason to clean.
The plan is to pull each book from the shelf and stack it in one of three piles: recycle, donate or keep. I start in A.’s room. As the youngest, he owns the least amount of stuff and most are well-loved hand-me-downs. I don’t expect to find many books with binders intact and containing all pages to donate.
What I do find surprises me. Winnie the Pooh smiles from the front cover of the hard-covered board book I read to I., then F. and then A. Jemima Puddle Duck stares at me with her small, accusing eyes. All of them ask how I can give away such an integral part of my boys’ babyhood.
These books mark all the stages of my boys’ life. From chewed corners to long-lost friends Bob the Builder and Dora the Explorer, I realize how quickly my boys are growing up. Last night, my oldest read a book on the Titanic disaster while F. scoured through a book that contains all things shark.
I put the Winnie back on the shelf and sit back on my heels. How can I give these away?
I retreat to the kitchen and a cup of coffee hoping the caffeine will knock some sense back into me. Reasonably, I know I can’t keep every talisman of my kids’ childhood. Plus, I want another child who may not have access to Beatrix Potter to sit snuggled in their mother’s lap and let the words fall over them like a warm security blanket.
I give myself permission to keep five favorites. Books I’ll want to share with my own boys’ children one day. In the donation pile go Bob and Dora. They scoot over to make room for books on colors and shapes. Mother Goose stays with me. So does Winnie. And the one board book with corners so nibbled if I look closely enough can see the imprint of I.’s first tooth.
I rush to drop them off before I change my mind.