Judging by today’s title, you might assume today’s column is going to be about my varicose veins. (Don’t worry, that will be another column entirely. We met our deductible with our newest bundle of joy and I plan to see a specialist within the calendar year about it. I’ll call it, “You’re So Vein.” By the way, if I ever have another baby, remind me to shoot for a January due date. You can only see so many specialists deductible-free in such a short span of time.)
Anywho, today’s topic is about taking things out of circulation. I just folded a mountain of laundry this morning only to decide half the things I was folding desperately needed to be taken out of circulation: The thrift store jeans that needed to be patched again, the pajama pants torn and way too small for Mr. 95th percentile for height, not to mention the hand-me-down shorts tattered by four separate boys over a period of 13 years whose hem is halfway torn off.
I can’t tell if the reason they’ve made it through the laundry cycle again and again until now is because they are soft, weathered favorites, or because there is simply not much else to wear around here and options are low.
I guess it stems from my own childhood abhorrence to clothes shopping (my mother will tell you she used to have to take me kicking and screaming.) I’ve grown out of the kicking and screaming phase, my husband will testify to that. But I don’t like to spend money on things that get outgrown so quickly, myself included. You see, as many of you, I have spent the majority of my adult life gaining and losing 50 pounds with each child. I’m constantly between sizes.
Like now, I’d love a new pair of jeans, but not in this size. 10 more pounds I tell myself…okay, 15 to really make the investment worth it. This hesitation to buy clothes that actually fit a present-day me trickles down to my kids until I find myself folding tattered rags passing as outfits. But things can be so hard to throw away!
I once had a teacher who, when confronted with a dry-erase marker out of dry-erase ink, would say, “Thank you for your service,” and then jump shoot it into the wastebasket and pull out a fresh one.
So this is the phrase I’ve decided to adopt: Thank you for your service. I said it to the p.j.’s, the shorts and the jeans today and they seemed to be okay with the break-up. I said it to the outgrown underwear and the socks I have no intention of darning, and they took the news really well. I even think they found my honesty and candor refreshing.
This simple motto seems to take all the guilt away from filling up the trash with the things not good enough for the charity truck but somehow good enough for my armoire. The pacifiers my baby tried and didn’t like, the sippy cups who’ve lost their lids, the torn bed sheet…Thank you for your service. Just like that, five simple words can replace guilt with a feeling of gratitude.
And when the doctor blasts my unsightly leg with his high-tech lasers or whatever it is they do to get rid of this road map of the lake country my left leg has become, I will say with all the gratitude I can muster for this wonderful, redundant organ…yep you guessed it,
Thank you for your service.
Margaret Anderson is a BYU graduate, returned missionary, free-lance writer and the mother of five small children. Read more at www.jamsandpickles.wordpress.com