Opinion: Change & Letting Go

Letting Go on The Sentimentalist

These Sweetest Moments

This post is longer than I had intended for it to be but I wanted to share some thoughts I’ve been ruminating on for the last few weeks. Once I finally sat down to start typing I realized I had more to say on this topic than I thought. Sometimes the words that describe my feelings reside in the back of my fuzzy mind but it takes a while for me to figure out how to share them in writing. The reason I forced myself to write this post on change and letting go is because I get the sense from a few recent conversations that others out there wrestle with many of these same emotions and thoughts – especially this time of year. So here goes… I hope this resonates with a few of you.

With the end of each school year I feel a rush of emotions both good and bad. I look forward to lazy summer days, late bedtimes, and eating outdoors. As soon as we are on “break” we spend at least two weeks staying in our pajamas until 9am (a luxury if you have little ones that are usually up and ready for school by 7:15). I wait with bated breath for the schedule to shift into summer-mode but then under the excited anticipation I am also feeling a more melancholy longing for this year, the present, not to be ending. Where did the year go? How are both girls on the precipice of another birthday? They say the days are long and the years are short in this season of raising young children and very few words ring more true to me right now. I’m not a person who deals well with change. The speed at which my children are growing up astounds me. I want to bottle them in this moment. In fact – I want to press pause on it all. I don’t have that itch to move homes or towns. I don’t redecorate because I tire of colors or design. I like things to stay the same so in a world where most of us are moving at break-neck speeds towards the next activity or event I often feel sick with vertigo-like anxiety as things are ending and moving on.

My baby boy, now 8 months old got his first tooth at 5 months. I marveled at how “young” he was in comparison to his sisters. I grinned as I used my nail and tapped on the little white nub that protruded from his gums but inside I was wistful that he was a little less baby and a little more boy in that moment. And as I hugged my middle child’s teacher (a dear friend from my childhood and complete superhero at our school) goodbye at the end of the year I held on a little longer than usual – wondering if I had really appreciated her as much as I should have. Had I gone in to the classroom enough times to read a book? Had I lingered at drop-off long enough each day to absorb her wisdom and advice?

And in the chaos of that last week of school I lost my watch. It was a precious gift given to me by my husband. We hemmed and hawed over which one I wanted for nearly a year before he presented it to me as a surprise one Christmas. I’m embarrassed to admit not a night has gone by since then that I haven’t thought about it at bedtime as I drift off to sleep. It felt careless losing it and I have beaten myself up about my absent-minded ways – but more than that I am crushed that it is no longer with me. It’s an item, I know, and readily replaced, but I can’t bear to think that the watch I wear next will just be a “copy” of the original that held such meaning. (In truth I also can’t bear to spend the money to buy a new one.) The watch is just one example of a few things that I have had to “let go” of in recent weeks and I am sure sleep deprivation can definitely be blamed for me misplacing more things than usual (car keys – ugh!). I have honestly had a tough time with each and every loss. The move to our new home has us all giddy with delight but I still fear the purging process that I know lies ahead. There is so much we need to let go of that is no longer needed or useful at this point. Just typing that feels uncomfortable to me.

My mind feels muddled as I try to figure out if my inability to let go of moments and mementos is just plain old sentimentalism (acceptable) or a real issue. I often wonder at what point holding on is in some ways holding me back? I’m currently reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in preparation for our move. It was recommended by a friend and I find myself shaking my head and almost cringing as the author, Marie Kondo, encourages the reader to purge and organize. She assures us that we will live happier lives when our surroundings are less cluttered. She encourages the reader to only hold onto the things that bring them joy. I know it’s true but I’m not quite there yet. I hold on to my belongings like fleeting moments. A skirt reminds me of college so it sits in my closet and is never worn but still there. A piece of jewelry speaks to me of the giver when I see it in my drawer so it too stays well beyond its shelf life. For now I will repeat the mantra that these are just things and there is joy in the liberation of letting go – whether an item is purged or lost. It doesn’t feel totally right yet but in time I hope it will…


  1. Selina Strong says:

    Your honesty is refreshing and disarming. Your courage to share is beautiful. I love you very much.

  2. Oh, I love this- I relate to every word. xoxox

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