Letting Go


One of the most surprisingly difficult things about motherhood for me has been the letting go.

(In that, most of the time, I am realizing that I don’t want to.)

For a long time, I have collected various leaves and pine cones and acorns that Captain Bravo has picked up for me on his travels. (I wrote about these gifts back in the spring.) Sometimes he will gather them on our walks together, sometimes he will bring them home for me when he goes out with someone else. 

It is as if he sees a pine cone and thinks of me; it is sweet and special and I always feel touched.

For a long time now, I have kept this collection of treasures on our fireplace – and we would add a leaf here and there if he saw one that caught his eye. 

This past weekend, I was cleaning and preparing to put up some decorations when I moved the shallow bowl. It was overflowing with oak and maple leaves and small brown pine cones and acorns – even a few pebbles. I placed it down and considered what to do with it. 

The logical part of me knew that I had probably kept it too long. It was a bowl of dried leaves, for crying out loud! I could have thanked and complimented and quietly shuffled them into the compost bin. Captain Bravo might never have noticed. 

But I didn’t do that. 

I collected and displayed and with each added item, my sentimentality grew. 

(This is probably how hoarding happens, isn’t it?)

I knew it was time to listen to my inner Obi-Wan and Let Go. We took a photo of the collector with the collection before the leaves hit the compost.

Treasures Letting Go

And Captain Bravo? Was totally fine with me getting rid of these gifts – he smiled and said, “That’s OK.”  Perhaps the promise of colourful decorations replacing the collection had something to do with it, but I think probably not.

He wasn’t attached anymore – I was. He had let go of it the moment he had given it to me. I was the one that had put value on it and cherished it. I was the one the feared that I would miss them. After all, maybe next spring Bravo will no longer think to bring me treasures. Will I miss them? Will I miss the see -an-acorn-think-of-mommy-ness that is such an endearing part of being 4 years old? Would I feel empty without it? 

EmptyCorner Letting Go

Empty corner of living room, empty corners of my heart?

It let it go. Just as I have struggled to let go of art projects and hundreds of paper scribbles over the past years. I let go because you have to let go of somethings or else there would be no room for the new. In keeping everything, and holding it close, I would be closing myself off to new beauties just appearing on the horizon.

DecoratedMantle Letting Go

And that night, as we sat among the twinkling lights and the newly-hung stockings, I did think of the acorns and the leaves and the pine cones. I thought of the boy that gave them to me and noticed his smiles as he placed ornaments and sipped hot chocolate with mini marshmallows.

In remembering I realized that my heart wasn’t empty. It is so very full.

Do you have trouble letting go of special treasures?



About Kim Steele

Kim is an early childhood educator turned stay at home mom who lives in Nova Scotia, Canada with her husband. Together they are co-piloting two little Captains, Alpha and Bravo. She writes about the funny and the sentimental of everyday life with her boys. Kim is fond of Jane Austen and science fiction and can often be found singing in the car - although she has been known to stop for coffee or chocolate. Connect with Kim on Twitter and Facebook.

Comments Make Me Geek Out

  1. Ack, he’s just so cute!!
    Yes, I have trouble. Case in point – our basement has a stack as tall as me full of Scarlet’s art projects from the last two years. I think we’re about to employ some sort of solution. I hear there’s an app to organize them by photo and date (as if we remember the dates) but I do think taking photos is the solution.
    Heck, it’s the solution for most things in my life, so why not this?
    Tamara recently posted..Honey, I Broke The Baby & My Mind.My Profile

    • That is what I have started to do too, Tamara. Taking photos helps me to let go, because I know I have the memory whenever I want to look back on it. I didn’t know there was an app? So cool.

  2. I have a harder time now letting go than I ever did. I think it’s because they will soon be gone and I want to keep close everything I can from them.
    Andrea recently posted..DIY Mac and Cheese on the StoveMy Profile

    • I can see how it would be harder to let go as time goes on – totally. I can see wanting to keep everything close because time just has a way of rushing by, doesn’t it?

  3. I think it’s natural to have a hard time letting go. When I worked with people organizing their photos, it was always hard for them to let go of photos. But most of the time we have multiple photos of the same things, so you don’t need to keep the blurry ones, the duplicates, and those that are just plain bad.
    Michelle recently posted..Gifts Any Photographer Will LoveMy Profile

    • I have gotten better at deleting photos as I go, Michelle – because I take so many of them that it would be impossible if I didn’t get rid of the ones that I am never going to need.

  4. Parenthood in general is a delicate balancing act of knowing when to hang on and when to let go. I find it SO hard as letting go is not my forte. I think I’m getting better, I know I am, but it’s not easy. I’m working on it!! –Lisa
    The Dose of Reality recently posted..Walking The WalkMy Profile

  5. I struggle with this all the time – letting go of the treasures and the art work in particular. I think that it’s partly me wanting to hold tightly to this time and this age. I know that the likelihood of me going back and looking at these things is slim but there’s something about the act of letting go that gets me. Or I may just be a hoarder. In either case, this is the hardest part of parenthood for me.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..9 Things I Learned During Yoga Teacher TrainingMy Profile

  6. I have MAJOR trouble tossing the art. I make Tim do it now. I pick a few that I know I want to save and then he tosses the rest, in one fell swoop. He’s vicious. He’s the same way with toys. Good thing I have a cedar chest where I can hide some stuff. ;)

    Your little guy is so sweet. Glad you made room for the new…
    Elaine A. recently posted..My ApartmentMy Profile

  7. I’m the antithesis of hoarding. I have no problems letting go of stuff. Even the kids’ art stuff. I know, I should be more sentimental but I have a compulsion to keep things neat. I do take pictures of everything, and put all my emotions in that. That counts, right?
    Alison recently posted..Do More Of What Makes You HappyMy Profile

  8. My mother still has a dozen or so rocks my oldest son gave her once. Sometimes we connect to the strangest of things.
    Christopher D Drew recently posted..A Promise Kept- 5th Day Of AdventMy Profile

  9. When we moved to Canada we came with 14 boxes and 8 suitcases and half of the boxes were full of toys… It felt good to start fresh and while I used to keep EVERYTHING, I now get rid of it just as well. There are some special keepsakes that I hang onto, but most of it I carry in my heart :)
    Kerstin @ Auer Life recently posted..5 signs you need a breakMy Profile

  10. Great post, love how it comes around full circle. Your heart is full regardless of the things we hold onto, so sweet :]
    R.F. Dietz recently posted..A List of 7 Badass BloggersMy Profile

  11. My kids don’t even like to bring anything home anymore because I throw everything away. I’m horrible – I know. But I rarely keep anything. Now my kids make fun of me for this trait though. LOL
    tracy@sellabitmum recently posted..I Believe In MagicMy Profile

  12. Oh, I do. But sometimes, not as much trouble as my daughters do! We have at least two containers of locust shells hanging around that they collected…

    It is hard, though, sometimes. And probably the reason why my MIL brings boxes of T’s papers from elementary school. ;)
    Greta recently posted..My #JamberryChallengeMy Profile

    • I think it must hard for a lot of people – I know my oldest hangs on to his collections of things for a long time before he decides he is finished with them.

  13. My car is currently full of all the little rocks that Benjamin gives me whenever we go somewhere. They are in the cupholders, the door handle, and on the floor. I even have a special heart shaped one on my desk at work.
    Rabia @TheLiebers recently posted..My Hikes {Review}My Profile

  14. I am the WORST at sentimental collecting. I’ve recently started taking photos and scans of special stuff- but it will never, never be easy to discard “treasures” from my kids.
    Keely recently posted..Sleep. (Please.)My Profile

  15. oy. this was hard to read. i’m sure i’m a hoarder. but i do let go. sometimes. after long battles and sighs and sometimes swearing and tears. and other times? i can’t and things go into boxes and will stay there…until one day they get passed back down to my kids and they’ll be the ones to decide what’s worth saving and what should go to the compost pile….

    erin margolin recently posted..My Toddler Talks & Kimberly ScanlonMy Profile

    • I know there will be things that I keep for my guys, too. My oldest seems to be a sentimental collector of things, too – so one day he may be glad to have them. :)

  16. Oh, I totally get this! I am a saver. I save EVERYTHING and I feel those feelings when I have to throw something away. My husband rolls his eyes at me. :)
    Kristin Shaw recently posted..What I will knowMy Profile

  17. Right there with you, Kim! No matter the age (I have a newborn and adult children with kiddos) there is always something you want to hang on to for dear life. I’m a saver and a keeper. ;-) I’ve missed visiting you. This is another wonderful post!
    Crystal recently posted..Ladies Only Blog Share Link Party: These Crazy, Stressful HolidaysMy Profile

    • Thank you, Crystal! So glad you stopped by!
      There are always things I want to hold on to. I guess I just have to make decisions and then follow through with them – that may help us from collecting too much. :)

  18. Yes, I have a hard time letting go. I’m very sentimental, so I can only imagine once I have kids how hard it will be to let those things go. Maybe that’s why writing helps. In it, we capture the moment, the feeling, the entire sensory experience, of the memory. And photos too.
    Stevie recently posted..Ask Away Friday with Heather of The Frill of LifeMy Profile

    • I think it really does help me. I know that writing about our moments and sharing photos here really has helped me let go of some things I might otherwise hang on to.

  19. I am so not a hoarder to the point where I can be insensitive. I have to be careful of that.
    Your living room looks incredibly cozy!
    Lady Jennie recently posted..Back to our Regularly Scheduled ProgramMy Profile