You are not your stuff
Have you watched Repair Shop on Netflix? Oh wait, it’s moved to Discovery Plus. What is Discovery Plus? When did tv get so complicated? Anyway, I 1000% recommend it, especially if you like the Great British Baking Show. Same chill vibe, same great accents.
Briefly, people bring their down-at-heel family heirlooms to a fabulous barn (with no central heating) to have them restored. Paintings, furniture, clothing, machines – you name it, they’ll fix it up for you.
And believe me when I tell you that the objects they’re restoring are in terrible shape.
Beaten up, neglected, used for target practice.
And a lot of them were trashed decades before their owners finally got it together to get them restored. It’s really common for someone to bring in a thing they remember from their mother’s or grandmother’s house.
If you were to create a Repair Shop bingo card, it would definitely have "I want future generations to enjoy this _____" in the center spot.
And that’s where I get a little squirrely.
If you remember your grandfather sitting in that green chair after dinner, regaling you with stories of life on the river or whatever, then that chair means a lot to you. But now you’re 50. Your kids have never laid eyes on that chair, let alone your grandkids.
They have absolutely zero emotional attachment to it.
That’s okay, you’re restoring it because you want to regain that feeling of safety and awe you had as a child sitting in his lap. I just don’t want you to be disappointed when not one member of your family clamors to be the inheritor of that chair.
And please don’t roll over in your urn when they put it on the Buy Nothing page after your demise.
Our attachments are ours alone. But sometimes we want other people to share them. And sometimes we are annoyed, angry or hurt when they don't.
I’m not sure why we want our kids to treasure the things we hold dear. I have to bite my tongue sometimes to keep from urging my kids to do things or read things or try things because I love them, and you are part of me and why are you so independent and do I even know you at all??
Ahem. Parenthood can catch you off guard sometimes.
Guilt isn’t a good motivator. It might sometimes be an effective motivator, but it doesn’t leave the motivated with the warm fuzzies. Quite the opposite. So, let’s do everyone we love a favor and remind them that they get to make their own decisions.
If your kids decide to get rid of that gorgeous credenza when you’re no longer kicking it on earth, let them know in advance that it's okay with you. Even if it does show up their distinct lack of flair in home decorating.
I run into a lot of people who have a garage full of their parents’ stuff and no idea of what to keep and what to discard. Let’s not do that to our kids or whomever is going to inherit our stuff.
Let’s be kind, responsible people.
That means getting rid of all the junk (because no one wants to deal with that). And then letting our heirs know that we don’t expect them to adore the things we’ve left behind. It’s okay to give it away. Because WE ARE NOT OUR STUFF.