The Toy Retirement

The Toy Retirement

A Story by Carole

Being sentimental can be tough, especially when it comes to "Toy Retirement." It is, however, a necessary phase of motherhood; a turning point.


There comes a time in every good veteran mother's life when she must embark upon an arduous and difficult task. A bitter-sweet turning point that may very well yield bountiful tears and heartache. One that is lavished in tender memories of days gone by; days that passed far more quickly than she had anticipated for her now 23, 20, and 18-year-old. A time that she must give away, throw away, pack away or sell the toys that were so much a part of her children's lives, but also hers: The Toy Retirement.

Though many toys have already been given away, a few stragglers are left in my attic. The big brown over stuffed teddy bear with one eye missing, the doll with matted hair from submerging her one too many times in the bath tub, the multitudes of Barbie dolls, and the talking Buzz Lightyear from the movie Toy Story with all of the adjustable parts, that announces clearly when the button is pushed, "To infinity and beyond!" The stuffed purple Barney that sang the song the whole family sang together in carefree merriment, "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family, with a great big hug and a kiss from me to you�won't you say you love me too?"

The neon colored sand toys in the green Rubbermaid container are sitting neatly behind the white wooden playhouse with green shutters in the backyard. They are faded and worn and have seen years of sand play beside the blue swing set long since sold at a garage sale.

As I sit in my wrought iron lawn chair and gaze across the green grass at the play house, I think about the little cement block patio I had wanted to make outside of it, the sign I had wanted to paint for the entrance, and the other projects that didn't transpire because three kids meant crazy schedules: Baseball, softball, soccer, roller hockey, swim lessons, field trips, friends, and over nighters. Playing taxi was just something I did back then.

I've been busy washing a menagerie of stuffed animals I brought down from the attic to pack away securely for the grand kids. There are multitudes of colorful beanie babies, stuffed ducks, bunnies, and bears. I stop and reminisce about each one as I go, pondering where they came from as they disappear one by one into the clear Rubbermaid container for safe keeping. Some were favorites and were slept with, while others adorned the crocheted netting in the corner of each of their bedrooms near the ceiling, suspended by 3 white hooks, and left to peer over the edges as if to guard their rooms each night.

Toy retirement has been just one facet of the task I have set out to accomplish during this phase of my life. Yet another sentimentality was going through old school papers. It has been time consuming and heart wrenching. I couldn't help but smile when I found the infamous cat or dog portrait my oldest son Shawn drew, who admittedly wasn't an artist. My daughter Michaeli was notorious for coloring beautiful collages. And then there was my youngest son's notes�they each hold a special place in my heart.

The most recent one I ran across on yellow construction paper penned by my youngest son, Chad, stole my heart when he gave it to me as a young boy, and reading his words brought back the vivid memory of that day: "I love you mommy. From your secret "mirror" (admirer)."

Oh, the memories. Oh, the yearning to turn back the clocks for only a day of the 1-year-old birthday parties and the cake smeared faces, the sticky fingers, the "I love you, mommy's," the sweet and gentle kisses, the dandelion bouquets hidden inconspicuously behind their backs, the knee scrapes and the band aides. The little arms reaching up to me begging to be held, "Mommy, hold me," "Tell me a story," or "Will you rock me, mommy?" I said then as I would say now, Yes, my darling. Yes�Yes�A thousand times, yes" for you won't be little long. I know that full well.

Cleaning and scrubbing
Can wait 'til tomorrow
For babies grow up we've learned
To our sorrow
So quiet down cobwebs,
Dust, go to sleep�
I'm rocking my baby,
And babies don't keep

(Author Unknown)


© 2009 Carole

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This is really so beautiful Carole! It is so emotional that it even made my eyes wet while I was reading it...
"Toy retirement" is really a very important and tough phase in any mother's life and this piece of writing came right up from a mother's heart...That's why it is so pure, deep and emotional :)
Thanks a lot Carole for letting us know about this phase of motherhood and sharing your life experience here!
The choice of words are just brilliant and both the pictures are going so well with it! (specially the second pic)
Very powerful piece of writing it is....Awesome!!! :)

Posted 15 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


Great story telling. This did justice in the realm of getting the message across. Great message. There's lot of times where a story can have a great message to aim for, and have a lot of under lining things but then no one gets it, and if no one gets it, then the point has failed. But in my opinion this did well to get the message across. You made it clear, which is why I think it's good. Keep up the good work. What was also great was that I could imagine the story as I read it, and that is also a strong point of stories. The ability to have the reader imagine it because after all we're reading not watching it, but it was as if I was there as I read this, and that is great. Good job once again.

Posted 8 Years Ago

This is absolutely beautifully written as you share feelings that I have been going through as well; as a matter of fact I 'm sure most mothers can relate to the powerful emotions that you have penned so well in this piece. Save those toys...grandchildren will be on the way one day :-)! This is a fav. ~ Jude xoxo

Posted 15 Years Ago

Whenever I do my "spring cleaning" I feel this way. I have a million gazillion dolls as you know and a couple of years ago, I put some of my dolls away. It killed me! I also keep all my stuffed animals. I have them in bags in the basement for my future children.

It's hard to part with the tangible reminders of happy times and things that touch our hearts. I like how you've described this and shared your feelings.

Posted 15 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

wow, this does have a sense of loss to it, brings a tear to the eye. I still have the majority of my toys, even some newer ones - ever heard of the teletubbies? I keep them for memories which I think all toys have a certain attachment like that. you are right though and we all have to move on - or just get bigger and bigger houses!

Posted 15 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Hi Carole,
Well, I don't have kids, but my sister had three girls, now all grown, but I remember the sweet times, and I also know what I missed by not having any of my own. The very saddest of memories are the ones you never had. Thinking about that is too much so I just enjoy, reading about yours, so very beautiful.
Great job!

Posted 15 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I am sending my first born off to college next week - all summer, although I knew I would miss her, I was rather looking forward to a little bit of a break (I still have one teenager at home - so not a complete break lol). As the time draws nearer, it is beginning to hit me - no longer will I be waiting up until she walks through that door safe and sound; no more will I know that she is safe and sound each night, I will have to leave that one to faith. I still have some of her stuffed animals tucked away, along with her favorite bedtime story; her pacifier; her pup and her blankie. They grow up way too fast don't they? great write - so glad I came across this one at this time.



Posted 15 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

oh my goodness, Carole! WOW!
Just reading your intor" Being sentimental can be tough...toy retirement is a necessary phase..." KILLEd me! Tears spilled like water from a faucet! I JUST put away some things that Baby used that 1st belonged to mr 13 yr old. I was overwhelmed by the realization that in just a few short yearsMr 13 will soon spread his wings and fly...oh how I wish I could clip those terrible wings and keep him locked here, safely with Momma! ( He LOVED Toy Story by the way...AND Baby watched it for the first time on Monday and was enchanted!- the movie is yet another hand-me-down from mr 13)
"playing taxi", yes, don't we?!?!
and dandelions hold a special place in my heart...I STILL have that first clumsily put together "boquet" from mr 13...gosh, it must be at LEAST 11 yrs old!
this story is VERY touching. Vivid images and a loving account of your memories. I am SO GLAD you mentioned this to me and suggested that I read important lesson was taught to me today, dear friend! I have just been reminded of how easily time can "get away from us" and that we too often forget that the memories we make for our children is REALLY all we can leave for them!! Can you imagine the love and history they will feel when your children open those rubbermaid totes and bring those toys out of retirement for their own children??? WOW!!!

Posted 15 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I don't have any kids but if I did I'm sure the tears wouldn't be able to be held back on this one. Lovely piece. But now you'll have the grandkids!!!! ;)

Posted 15 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

what a great story! It would behard for a mother having to give away sentimental things that their kids had. My mom did it with my 2 brothers and now me. I try to get rid of things from when I was little, but can't, it's too tough.
Lots of memories lie between little things from the past.

Thanks for sharing!

Posted 15 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

A very heartwarming walk down memory lane. That's the thing about time, it is a beautiful thing, but it can only last for a moment until it is memory. I know how hard it is to let go of things that trigger memories, I have boxes upon boxes of stuff. It's almost like the items are time machines that let us travel back to those moments. Awsome write!

Posted 15 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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33 Reviews
Shelved in 4 Libraries
Added on July 21, 2008
Last Updated on February 8, 2009



Rio Rancho, NM

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