Learn to value what you value, and teach your kids to do the same.
Why do I get so stressed out from packing? Well the surface reason is that we’ve had so many ‘bad’ experiences with the nice things we buy getting ruined or lost, so now my first reaction is to go on the defensive, feeling angry that our stuff isn’t respected and cared for, feeling helpless like there’s nothing I can do to control what happens with the stuff when I’m not there, and feeling guilty for keeping their ‘nicer’ clothes and accessories at our place, and sending them off with the more used stuff.
The truth is that I feel like what I want and what’s important to me doesn’t matter.
I feel like my own values and the way I want to live and be in my family doesn’t matter. What I do doesn’t matter. And why do I feel this way? Because I put my time, energy and money into something that matters to me, but that 'something' that matters to me isn’t appreciated or respected by others.
And you may say, “it’s just stuff, it’s not that important”. And that’s true, if there was a fire or other force of nature that took the ‘stuff’ away, it’s replaceable and it’s not the most important thing… I get that, but I would still be at least a little sad to see it go, wouldn’t you? Just because it's not the most important doesn't mean that it isn't important at all.
That same principle applies when I put my time & energy into my work, and use the money I make to pick and choose something nice for my step-kids.
The “stuff” has emotional and energetic value because I put my time, energy, love, and yes… money, into giving them that stuff. These objects have meaning to me.
When a child gives us their drawing that they worked hard on and poured their imagination and energy into, we don’t throw it away or use it to clean a spill off the floor. We value and appreciate it for the creativity, emotions and energy our children have invested in it.
When something that I invested my time, money, energy and emotions into is mistreated, not cared for, or forgotten, it triggers these negative beliefs in me - the beliefs that I don’t matter and what I value doesn’t matter.
So that’s the real root of the problem here - my false negative belief that what I value doesn't matter.
Kids will be kids, they get dirty, they are forgetful, so I let it be. And their mother will be their mother, and care for their stuff in whatever way she wants, and I can’t do anything about that. Maybe she doesn’t understand the value I place behind these things, and that to me, they’re not just replaceable. And maybe she does. Either way, we’re not in a place now to be talking about these things without causing a conflict, so I choose to let that be too.
I see the value in the gifts that I give and receive, with all the love & emotion that goes behind giving them.
Stuff is not just stuff. Politics is not just politics. Money is not just money. It all has value based on what an individual places on it. I teach my step-kids about this value too, starting with the value we place on material objects.
In fact, this whole blog about ‘stuff’ is based on a conversation we had the other day when I was packing up their stuff and teaching them how & why they need to take care of it. The drawing example was a great way to help them understand how I feel.
I can’t control whether or not they actually take care of their stuff when they're gone, and I can’t control what their mother does, and right now I can’t even control my negative reaction to packing.
But I can control the value and worth that I put on myself and the things that matter to me. Whether that be material things, spirituality, or emotional connection - these things are all important. They have value because I give them value. I acknowledge the value of the things I give to my children, and trust that when I acknowledge this value others will begin to see it as well.
How do you feel about packing? How do you cope? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.
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