What Playing with My Dollhouse in My Thirties Taught Me

After a long and exceptionally cold winter, spring is finally upon us — the season of rebirth, growth, and cleansing, both physical and mental, to make room for fresh new ideas and perspectives. While many people use the vitality inspired by this season to begin spring-cleaning frenzies and get rid of old objects lying around the home, I actually made way to bring back an old item that was sitting in my parents’ basement for years… well, actually decades. I brought out my old dollhouse. It’s a Playskool Victorian dollhouse that is probably a vintage piece now, which perhaps attests to my age, but I don’t think I’ve seen a dollhouse today with the level of detail that this piece incorporates. It’s complete with a washer-dryer that actually spins, a battery-operated night light that actually turns on, a toilet seat that lifts, an oven and cabinet doors that open, a wreath that you can place on the front door and a traditional mailbox that you can place mail in. You may be able to tell that I took some time playing with it and going down memory lane before cleaning it up and giving it to my daughter to play with. 

When it was sitting down in my parents’ basement for years, I wondered for a long time why they hung on to it. Why was this toy, this object that seemingly had no value, accumulating dust? Couldn’t we sell it, donate it, or even trash it? Nobody was going to miss it. My parents (like a few others I know) have a tendency to hang on to things. Collectible items, old projects of ours, you name it. It drove me crazy. I blamed them for placing such a strong emotional attachment to items. I almost felt like it was unhealthy. 

But when I brought out my dollhouse, I thought – maybe there is some merit to keeping this after all. As a vintage piece, I do think it’s worth much more than it was. It’s economical and eco-friendly to reuse toys that are in perfectly good condition. And my daughter loves playing with it! Especially now that her mind is in a creative, imaginative play phase, and it’s so fun to see her play and talk to the dolls as she interacts with each room of the dollhouse. There’s also a profound level of joy seeing the next generation be inspired and delighted by the same things that once delighted us. 

I constantly grapple between the need to clear out things from my surroundings, and from my past, and the desire to hold on to them for just a little bit longer. I’m still trying to find a healthy medium between emotionally attaching to things – whether it’s objects, memories, or people – and letting them go to make way for new things that may contribute to my growth. 

I do believe the emotional attachment that we place on some things, people, or circumstances can sometimes weigh us down and hinder our growth, and it can be an arduous and often painful process letting go. But what I’m learning is that I have control over how much importance I place on those things – and not the other way around. 

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