I’ve written about the topic of nesting and family traditions before (see “A Very Nesting Christmas”). But I’ve been mulling in the back of my head for quite a while now about all the non-holiday “stuff” that reinforces the story of our family. How all sorts of things – from before and after our divorce – surround us in our home all the time because we nest. (Nesting, aka bird nesting, means we’ve kept our kids in the family home ever since our divorce; my ex and I do the moving in and out to take care of them).
And it’s not necessarily the stuff of family traditions or special family heirlooms. It’s just all sorts of mundanestuff. From the plastic Ikea bowls we’ve had since the kids were babies; the Speed Racer poster that first hung in the “baby’s” bedroom and now hangs in the basement over the pool table where the teenagers hang out; and the cartoon-y mythical Phoenix magnet on the fridge that we bought while visiting their aunt in LA; the wicker basket from Target that used to hold their Playdoh toys in the corner of the kitchen and now holds the dog’s chew toys. I mean, I could walk from room to room and the list would go on and on! (And you would say, “Okay, Beth, we got the idea already!”)
I wonder what it’s like to be a divorced family in the traditional two houses. Where does all that “shared” stuff end up? Is it discarded if it was “dad’s” or “mom’s”? Do the kids still hear the stories?
Does it matter? Well, that I don’t know.
But I do know I like how it is here. While it’s true I do not like clutter (see How 8 Books Changed My Life), I love having that meaningful stuff around. Even if we aren’t always consciously aware of it, that stuff reinforces our story – the story of all the things we’ve experienced together as a family, the things that makes us a family. Oh, of course, the stuff of special times and the traditions are a part of this. But, perhaps even more importantly, the mundane things. The day-to-day stuff; the living our lives together stuff; the stuff that accumulated from just being another family who’s taking it day by day, season by season, year by year.
So – inspired by a mixtape I found while cleaning out a desk drawer – I made a video, below, musing about that find, then fleshed out the idea in “Bird Nesting After Divorce: Honoring Our Family’s History” in an article I wrote for Divorce Magazine.
Now I’m going to break out those old Ikea bowls and serve the kids some applesauce to go with their “it’s Friday and Mom is really tired of cooking” chicken nuggets dinner. And I’ll serve myself some wine in my favorite glass that my niece Mary gave me before I even had kids. Cheers to family memories!