When it came right down to it, I couldn’t throw away the craft supplies. Sparkly pipe cleaners, glitter, feathers, beads, gold paint, clay—all the stuff you need to turn delivery boxes into trains, forts, and castles, or to create Cleopatra headdresses and war chieftain headbands.

I love crafts. Nothing makes me happier than visiting my mom in the ‘burbs of Indiana and spending a good hour or two wandering through the Michael’s craft store, that big-box homage to all things glue-gunnable.  And I loved the days when the boys begged to “do a project,” so in those little left-over pots of glitter and glue I see sparkly remnants of their little boyhood.

Neither boy is likely to ask to for stick-on fuzzy bugs any time soon, so I gave most of the supplies to Caleb’s first-grade teacher. But I couldn’t leave it all behind. I mean, what if we’re in the midst of some school project next year that would be just perfect except we don’t have any glitter? Do they have glitter in Abu Dhabi? What is the Arabic word for “craft store?”

Oddly, while I couldn’t quite throw away all the crafts, I had no problem tossing out boxes and boxes of nursery school mementos. I marched through those boxes like Sherman marching across the South. I kept a few things—a huge painting of a sunflower that Caleb made; the fairy-tale hats given to each graduate from their nursery school; a few of the more wonderful drawings that Liam made, including an entire “book” he made, in 2004, about Olympic women’s hockey (he drew pictures of his favorite teams, complete with uniform details, players’ names, and stats).

When I was finished weeding through the boxes and boxes of saved projects, oddly shaped bent-wire creations, and store-bought valentines from kids we no longer know, I felt like someone in an article from Real Simple: “look at the marvelously organized mom!”

Then guilt hit: had I really thrown away the worksheets Caleb used to practice his letters? The snowman made from pom-poms? Will my children think I don’t love them when I can’t produce the first-ever fingerpainting?

It’s a risk I’m going to have to take. I refuse to be the woman a friend of mine told me about, who photographs every worksheet and art project her kids bring home and then throws away the projects.
I mean, that’s crazy, right?

Whereas bringing little pots of glitter and sparkly pipe cleaners to Abu Dhabi makes perfect sense, don’t you think?