Downsizing. The word sounds sad…and old. I am like a hermit crab, looking for a new shell, but not a larger one—a smaller one, to fit my smaller life.

Purging. I roam around my big house, tossing overboard the flotsam and jetsam of my previous life.

     Tortilla press—used twice. 

We moved here from a little house, one that barely held our brimming-with-life children who exploded into every inch of their new home. It really doesn’t seem that long ago. I must have imagined making tortillas in my new kitchen, but life was busy. Instead, I bought tortillas.


So many books. They seem to multiply on their own. Books about marriage, mothering, faith, purpose. Books that affected me so deeply, I vowed to read them again and again. And did not.

I moved here with so much hope. The perfect life, the perfect marriage, the perfect family. Some of it has been realized, some not.

Perfection is what happens before real life does.

     Old oak rocking chair.

We bought it when the baby was just a dream. It’s been creaking for a while anyway, and the finish is worn off in several places. 

We moved here when my womb was full of yet another child. Exhausted. Hopeful. Fearful.

Another labor and delivery in the middle of the night because that’s what babies like. Perfect, the doctor said, twice. 

     Framed pictures.

Put the pictures in a box, donate the frames. So many. “They’ll never be this age again,” said the photographer. Looking at the photos, I can hardly believe they were ever that age. 


 Wondering if I could have done better, had more boundaries, had fewer rules.

All the teenage years, in this house. The growing pains. The misunderstandings. The burgeoning autonomy. The girlfriends. The driving lessons, the cars bent from mishaps, the prayers for safety. Lord have mercy. 

     Boxes full of memories.

 A lock of hair from a first haircut. A crayon drawing of me holding a baby brother. An essay demanding a dog. Save? Toss? 

Here’s the rule: Store up your treasures in heaven. But I had these little tangible treasures, hair smelling sweet after a bath. Craving my milk, drunk and smiling when they were satisfied. Growing, running with an energy unmatched by any adult. Then testing my patience and, certainly, my wisdom. And leaving, one by one, for their adventures.

I’m not a sentimental woman, but even I can be tested. 

Marcia Thomas lives in a suburb of Chicago with her husband of 41 years. She has raised four handsome, self-actualizing sons. She has found healing in exploring her story in the presence of others and treasures the opportunities she has to be that presence for others. She is surprised and pleased to find that the glad work of healing does not have a retirement age.