It’s Just Stuff

cup of teaI broke my favorite tea cup last night.  It wasn’t an heirloom.  I bought it at Ikea for $6.  Tea tasted really good in that cup.

Coffee should be slurped from mugs.  Tea should be sipped from thin cups.

Even my kids knew that I always made tea in that white cup.  When it hit the floor and broke into pieces, Jenny immediately offered to glue it back together for me.  I explained that it wasn’t a big deal.  I have other cups.  Will said, “Mom, I’ll buy you a new one.”  They both got worked up about my tea cup.

Strangely, if their own stuff breaks or gets misplaced, they are both pretty non-chalant.

We have a favorite saying around here.  When we have turned the house upside down looking for something, one of us will chime in with,  “It’ll turn up.”  I’m not sure why they were upset about my cup.  As I write this, I wonder if they are thinking that I am as fragile as that tea cup.

I sat them down and attempted to diffuse the whole situation about the tea cup.  I explained that before I’d had them, I was preoccupied with my stuff.  I kept tabs on everything, and I could locate anything at any time.  My stuff was way too important to me.

Then I had kids.

Suddenly I saw what was truly important in life.  I explained that the most important things are family and friends and, of course, our fat cat.  Stuff can be replaced.  Things break.  So what.  As long as we remember what’s truly important, it doesn’t matter if stuff breaks.

Narcissists cling to their stuff.  Their stuff is a reflection of them.  I used to try to remind Mark that we were raising kids, not grass.  But, he’d always tell our sweet  little toddlers to pick the gravel out of the grass.  They were just learning to walk, and they’d accidentally kick a few pebbles onto the lawn.  Instead of, “Way to go, Champ!  Look at those steps you’re taking.”  It was, “Come on, Pal.  Let’s not kick rocks onto the grass.”  Or, “Hey, Buddy, don’t make so many mistakes on your homework.  I don’t like erasure shavings all over the counter.”  Or, “I know you love that bike I got you.  And I know you love riding through puddles, but don’t get that bike dirty.  Okay, Pal?”

Why didn’t he just say, “Hey, Pal, don’t be a kid, okay?”

It’s just stuff.  It’s just a tea cup, or a lawn, or a kitchen counter, or a hardwood floor.  Cups can be replaced.  Scratches in the hardwoods can be buffed out.  Who cares about the lawn?  Fragile egos and self-esteem?  Those are too precious to mess with.

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  1. Wow! I have been reading through your older posts since finding this site and this one spoke to me so much. So many times I found myself saying to my N that it’s just stuff, who cares if the house isn’t perfect, what matters is the baby, his growth, his achievements, his happiness. Even now, when the N “visits” he tends to the yard, mows the law, trims trees. Sure the 4 year old likes to be out there, too but I wonder for how long he’ll want to watch his daddy mowing when he’d really rather his daddy play baseball with him.

  2. Hi Heather,

    It’s really nice to see you in the comments.

    Your comment reminded me of watching Will following behind Mark, while Mark did projects. I can vividly see Will waving madly and saying, “Daddy, will you stop working and play with me?”

  3. Hi Jess, I’ve been browsing through your blog since your beautiful Stratejoy essay. This post was particularly beautiful and struck me that things are just what they are…things. Thank you for your blog.

  4. Hi Christina,

    I’m glad you found us. Thanks for reading and commenting! ;)

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