I know, I know, I just told you (in the previous post) to remember who you were but there is definitely a balance to be had. Remembering who I was really helped me to connect to interests, parts of me, that I erroneously thought needed to be automatically sacrificed to make a life with my husband and children; art, music, going out with friends, these did not need to be sacrificed. However, other aspects of my life needed to change in order to make way for a new reality with my kids.
Before kids, I was on a fast track to becoming the next Latin American curator (at least in my head). I graduated with a BA in art history and Latin American studies and landed in the best spot I could be, El Museo del Barrio, the only Latin American museum in New York City. I was already an intern there and when I graduated, I was quickly hired. I subsequently worked in an art college, various other museums, and became an art teacher in a public middle school. All of this to say, that I had amassed a vast art book collection ranging in subjects such as art history, art education, and art making. I also accumulated art journals and various catalogue raissones.
When I decided to take my sewing business seriously, I opened a shop on Etsy.com and rapidly began building my fashion, craft and sewing book collection. At the same time, book collections belonging to my husband and sons were also rapidly growing. Our small two-bedroom Bronx apartment could hardly contain all the bookshelves, toys, and special equipment that filled our house. My home was becoming cluttered, overcrowded, and disorganized. There were times that I just didn’t want to be in the house because it was so overwhelming with the piles of stuff we had all around; the art books, the piles of unread New York Times, fashion magazines, art supplies, etc. Dan, who has impulse control issues, would knock down the piles, crumble papers, and break books, and I would constantly, over and over again, pick these items back up, try to fix them, and move them elsewhere. Then it dawned on me. These items no longer spoke to who I have become and the point that I am in my life right now. Dan was giving me a sure fire sign, in his non-verbalness, to get the hell rid of all this stuff cluttering the home that has nothing to do with the mother I am, the mother I have become.
It was a big wake up call and I decided to make the very difficult decision to sell part of my art book collection. As I prepared the list, I cried. Perhaps, I was mourning my life pre-kids, pre-autism, pre special-needs, pre-tantrums, when I could lay around and read art history books at will without fear of them being destroyed. I tearfully typed each title of the book knowing that it was the best thing to do for our family. Maybe if I had a bigger home, it would not have been an issue, but for us, in our tiny Bronx apartment, it was the right thing to do for our kids. They needed space. We shouldn’t clutter the house with our dreams deferred when there are new dreams to be made, new memories to store. I found comfort in knowing that there was another door opening for me, only me. This de-cluttering wasn’t only about the kids. I was embarking on an exciting journey starting Nelesc Designs (now Nelarte), a screen printed/ reconstructed clothing line of unique garments.
I didn’t sell all my books, though. I kept some of my favorite art books, some slides, and my old-fashioned slide projector. Occasionally, I gave my oldest a mini art history lesson, or worked on a craft project with him. Although I wasn’t practicing at that time, art history was very much a part of my life and I still cracked a book open for enjoyment once in while.
*I am glad I didn’t sell all my art books because seven years later, I returned to my museum practice and am once again building my art history book collection in a bigger home.