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My Closet is Never Empty

Mary McLaurine is the keeper of the stuff for her adult sons. She likes it that way. Read more from Mary on her blog.

Since starting to write again, I have met many people on social media that have become wonderful friends. Many of them are young mothers experiencing all the joy, laughter, tears, heartache and frustrations of trying to make their child’s world the perfect place to grow and thrive.

I enjoy reading their posts and follow their blogs. They take me back to a time when my two boys were infants, toddlers and mobile little terrors! They share stories of late night feedings, lack of sleep, doctor’s visits, absentee husbands and wives, the perils of staircases and sharp cornered coffee tables and all the struggles that inevitably take place on any given day. It is a world unto itself, the world of their young children, their own personal photo albums and anecdotes to chronicle, literally, each step of their child’s journey.

My Closet is Never Empty: caretakers

I realized after several weeks that although I enjoyed being reminded of all the trials, tribulations and triumphs of toddlerdom, that there was nothing being chronicled by a mother of “grown” children. It’s true, they no longer toddle, need changing or help up and down the steps but they always need parenting for they are always our children, no matter what their age. Why was I reading these blogs and feeling like an outsider looking in? I was a mother of young children once. Then it dawned on me. I am still a mother, no longer of infants or toddlers but a mother, just as I have always been. Just because most mommy blogs are written in reference to much younger children doesn’t mean I am an outsider! Once that little squirming, wrinkly, squalling, red-faced creature is placed gently in your arms, you are then and always will be a mommy, mother, ma, mum or whatever word you want to attach as title to the most important undertaking of your now forever changed life.

My closet has never been empty. My clothes, shoes, scrapbooks and things of import are all in there but so are crates of memorabilia that my two sons have collected over the years. My son who is 29 now, insists that I keep his autographed picture of a WWF wrestler he once adored and admired named “Mankind” in a box for safe keeping. Along with Mankind, who to this very day I could strangle to death because I had to watch every WWF match presented on TV, there is his Passport, Social Security Card, Birth Certificate and a poster of the Grateful Dead spinoff band, Ratdog, autographed by all the band members. “Mom, c’mon, you know I will lose all this stuff if I keep it!” So, there sits the crate. There are a few other mementos as well, some on hangers, some tucked in a small box and some whose significance to him is unclear to me. I keep them nonetheless for they wouldn’t be there if they weren’t important to him.

My 33 year old son is staying with me at present because car repairs had to be made to both of our cars and since I live on a fixed income, the only logical thing was to let him move in here for a bit so the monies that would have gone to his rent and utilities could now go to the ridiculously expensive car repairs. He is quite organized and most of his belongings are in a storage unit but his day to day necessities and clothes are ever present in my small bedroom closet. Make no mistake, when he leaves, not all of his things will leave with him. His favorite and most prized possessions of music he loves, endless pages of music composition, pictures of his old girlfriend and past proof of his “thug years” will remain here with the Guardian of All Things that “will be lost if you don’t keep them, Mom!”

Over the last several years, my children have returned home for various reasons. One was quite ill with Lyme Disease and in bed for many months, here, with Mom. I made his food, washed his clothes, watched movies with him when he was so sick he couldn’t get out of bed, wiped his tears away when it was just all too much for him to handle alone, helped him into and out of the shower and did so many of the things I did when he was just a small child.

They have both returned home between lease rentals or to get back on their feet financially when some catastrophe occurs…and they always occur in life! Sometimes it is for what seems like the bat of an eye while other stays can last as long as a few months. Both have had their share of injury and illness and tough times requiring the much needed love, care and support only a mother can give.

Neither are married, perhaps the ‘keeper’ torch will be passed on if and when that should happen. I do know from my own experience that there are simply times in one’s life when only a mother will do. These are the times we know we are still tethered to that immortal bond that is never severed, never broken and in my opinion continues to exist even when one dies and leaves this realm forever. My mother has been gone 26 years now and I can tell you I still feel the connection and turn to her for guidance, support, love and sometimes, a good swift kick in the ass.

My box of all things that “will be lost if you don’t keep them, Mom” was found in my mother’s closet by me, two days after she died. I had the daunting task of going through all of her belongings and came to the hard realization that they were all just things, not her, just her “things”. Her whole life was put into boxes and distributed accordingly to family, Good Will and the trash. Hiding in the corner under ancient files full of 15 year old tax returns and stacks of tattered magazine articles full of recipes she was one day going to cook or patterns she would one day sew, laid my box of things she kept for me. I could have retrieved them years before, surely after raising a family I was responsible enough not to lose or misplace them but I realized then and there that it was part of the bond between us. All these things I found so tragically important and had to leave in her care were left with her because that way, I had never really left. Part of me, the most important, cherished parts of me, were there in her safekeeping. In a way, she was safeguarding my heart, for all those now seemingly silly things, were at one time, parts of my heart. Who better to leave your heart with than your mother?

So when is it that we stop being caretakers, soul savers, spirit builders, disciplinarians, keepers of all secrets and cherished items? When is it we no longer turn our heads abruptly to heed the familiar sound of “Moooooommmmmm” that we instantly know is our child beckoning? When? Never.

While I can relate to the young mommies blogging by letting my mind wander back to long ago, I, too, can contribute to mommy blogs! I am still a mommy. My children may be older and have very different needs than when they were little boys, facing a far more dangerous world because they are grown but the instinct to protect them and to keep them safe in that perfect world we once provided for them is still always there, just as it has been since the day they were born.

We are always the parent, the Guardians of Hearts, the Keeper of the Connection and the lead filled boots that keep our children securely anchored when they begin to float too far from us and need to be reeled back in. As a mother, I look at these items my son’s have collected and decided were their most prized and important possessions and although I scream in frustration every time I trip over the corner of a crate or am called upon to retrieve a much needed document or a specific piece of paper that is needed ‘RIGHT NOW’, I savor the connection.  These are not just crates full of “stuff”, they are pieces of their hearts they have entrusted to me, their mother, the keeper of “all things that will be lost if you don’t keep them, Mom, “.

My closet is never empty, it doth runneth over like the love for them in my heart.

Mary McLaurine

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    Susan Maccarelli

    Tuesday 12th of May 2015

    So sweet Mary. I am moving from having babies and toddlers to having little kids. They will only be 4 and 5, but it is a different stage and I feel a little of that. My daughter produces more artwork each day than I can comprehend, so I end up throwing it away or cutting it up to make grocery lists on, and it is tough not to keep it all, but it is just things like you say. Oh, and I am older than your son, but I loved me some WWF in the 1990s - Sting was my favorite!

    Mary McLaurine

    Tuesday 12th of May 2015

    Hahaha, Susan! Sting, lol. I went to several matches with him and they were great fun. His favorites were Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Mankind and Triple H. I never minded seeing Shawn Michaels throwing guys around! We loved D-Generation X, too. So funny thinking back.

    Yes, it is bittersweet watching our children go through so many stages of growing up. I had a lot of trouble throwing things away, too. Each time I threw away some scribble work of art I felt like a horrible mother, lol.

    Thanks, Susan :)

    Tara Brelinsky

    Tuesday 12th of May 2015

    What a sweet story and one that makes me a bit envious. My own mom threw away some of my memories and she rarely let's us look through the old photos. I appreciate your willingness to be the keeper in your family. And I agree mom bloggers shouldn't include mothers of littles only.

    Mary McLaurine

    Tuesday 12th of May 2015

    Oh, no, your mom threw some of yours away? I'm so sorry :( I hope someday you get to look through those albums to your heart's content!

    I love the mommy bloggers, their stories do take me back but I skip over a lot that isn't relevant to me or my memories. Diapers, breast feeding, birthing details - all good stuff but I enjoy the tender stories more.

    Thank you for your comment and get your hands on those pics!

    Janine Huldie

    Tuesday 12th of May 2015

    Oh Mary, how I love this and my closet is already full and can only imagine this will still continue to grow with my own girls, too. Again, just beautiful!! ;)

    Mary McLaurine

    Tuesday 12th of May 2015

    Thanks, Janine! Yes, it will definitely keep growing! I love going in there and poking around sometimes, each little item brings back a special memory.

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

    Elizabeth Thompson

    Tuesday 12th of May 2015

    This is wonderful. "I had never really left." Perfect.

    Mary McLaurine

    Tuesday 12th of May 2015

    Thank you so much, Elizabeth!

    Chris Carter

    Tuesday 12th of May 2015

    OH Mary!!! This is absolutely breathtaking! I kept thinking of so many of my friends who have grown children, and I know they would absolutely love this I know their closets are over-flowing too!

    I just loved this. Sharing!!

    Mary McLaurine

    Tuesday 12th of May 2015

    Thanks Christine. I bet your closets will be overflowing before you know it! Thanks for sharing and for your kind words.

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