The other night my three daughters and I watched the 2001 Disney/Pixar classic, "Monsters, Inc." We enjoyed this movie for children, despite the fact that they're teens (or almost). And the reason we were watching a show for little ones is because my basement threw up into my garage.
Stay with me here. I'll explain the "Monsters, Inc." connection.
I mean huge, heaving globs of stuff. As I write, we're essentially in the "dry heaves" state. Little odds and ends, a puzzle piece here, an old book there, a strand of paper lights in one corner, a broken-down table in the other.
There's nothing like a household move to clarify what one really needs and wants.
A move is on the horizon. My four kids and I will be joining my husband in his home, soon to be our new family's home, about 40 minutes away, when school is finally out for the year and my own house has been leased.
I wrote last fall that many people live together without being married, but my new husband and I decided to do things differently and get married without living together. At least for a few months while our children got through their current "phases."
Anyway, it's time. And so the contents of our basement, after we spent a day cleaning it out last week, were organized into about 20 garbage bags, assorted donation bins and boxes marked for moving.
Now I have to shovel out the garage, it's true, but that's another story.
I haven't moved much in my life. With my last move, almost nine years ago, I don't remember going through so much stuff. That's probably because my children were all little then, 10 and under. I suppose they hadn't had to accumulate a lot of things.
But, most importantly, in packing up there was no sense of "Oh, my kids are too old for this now and that's kinda sad!" since my youngest then was only a few years old.
Nine years later, and I feel like I'm living the last scene of "Toy Story 3," when the once-little Andy, now going off to college, plays with his toys for the last time. That film did me in for about two weeks, as I wrote about at the time.
So there I was in my basement, gathering worn-down, old-fashioned number blocks given to my now-almost-19-year-old son when he was a baby -- given by my mom, just months before she died. Those aren't going anywhere. But there were also books about skyscrapers and the stars -- also my son's; the VHS tape (who even has those?) of "A Pocket for Corduroy," which all my kids loved when they were tiny; a delightful little tea set that belonged to daughter No. 3 -- who just turned 14; and games like "Sorry" and "Candy Land," not played in years. One item after another went into the "books and toys to give away" box.
I know: I should clean out my basement more often!
Of course, after packing it up I went back and plucked out a few things when no one was looking. I justified the little doll's house and the bucket of Legos by telling myself I now have a step-grandbaby and another on the way, so surely we can keep some things for them.
But I'm really keeping them for me. I am not kidding anyone.
When I was a child and looked forward to growing up, that life always included young children. What's a grown-up life without young kids? Well, I'm finding out every day now. I wrote recently about saying goodbye to my minivan of 10 years, and what that means. In a few months, I'll be saying goodbye to a home that was a big part of my children's youth as well. OK, OK, so it's a nostalgic time -- it's allowed.
This, of course, is where "Monsters, Inc." came in. Once we organized all the movies, matching up covers and DVDs for the first time in years, we unearthed the little gem and my oldest daughter suggested we watch it. I think that we all hold onto pieces of our childhood like that.
It was delightful.
It's true I can't wait for the next home, and day-to-day life with my new husband. Wonderfully, the kids are excited, too.
In the meantime, I have to admit that as I look around my clean, cleaned-out, light-filled basement, I'm discovering that time moves on no matter what we do. And as I realize that every movie jacket I see on the bookshelves has the corresponding movie in it and, at their ages, they are finally likely to stay that way, I'm also discovering that having one's children growing up does have some real advantages.
Betsy Hart's latest book, "From The Hart: A Collection of Favorite Columns on Love, Loss, Marriage (and Other Extreme Sports)," has just been revised. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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