Go through your house right now with a couple trash bag and throw stuff away or donate it. The giant tacky bows that you received for your first baby shower, the puzzle that your son spilled applesauce on that you shoved back in the box for some reason, the dizzying array of party favors collected over the last six years. Parenting reveals many things about your personality but the one I wasn’t expecting was the revelation that I’m a lowdown, miserable hoarder. And I think my kids have observed this and are becoming tiny hoarders too. I found my daughter’s backpack the other day and it was filled with dirty rocks, Pokemon cards and old Band-Aids. I’m embarrassed for my mother (and mother-in-law) to see our kitchen drawers because they contain mostly batteries, light bulbs and two complete Pyrex dish sets with an assortment of 29 random lids.
How can I stop the madness? Should I organize the world’s junkiest garage sale? How can I stop collecting junk?
When I got married, my parents started coming by our house with “the box.” It was an old cardboard produce box chock-full of my old American Girl books, trophies, terrifying dolls, just all kinds of random remnants of my childhood. They would be so happy to hand over this stuff, free from the burden of keeping it. I remember shifting through it, laughing and reminiscing over these treasures, each one bringing up an fond memory. The wooden plaque I received for leading our relay to victory at the all-city swim meet. It was one of the first times I can remember when I tapped into that hardly used part of my brain that could focus and stop clowning around. I was quiet the whole day, intent, focused, completely in tune with my body and mind. My mom was legitimately concerned that I was sick because she had never seen me so quiet/calm/not doing the running man to make my brother laugh. The meet finally arrived and I dove into the water, knowing I could push myself to break my fastest time. I remember finishing the race, checking the time clock and knew we had won first place. It was exhilarating. I received the small wooden plaque and treasured it. Remember when Michael Phelps broke all those world records? Yeah, this was actually nothing like that.
The plaque is now in my daughter’s closet and I’ve already exhausted my children with retelling the story of my victorious night. And I shake my head as I try to make room for the plaque in the midst of her painted rocks, beginners magic kit missing some crucial pieces and piles of drawings. I try to weigh out the good hoarding of meaningful items- sentimental and treasured versus the anxiety inducing collection of hot garbage. So, the swimming plaque is a keeper, but the World’s Best Limericks book, the Wyle E Coyote cross stitch and creepy dolls (sorry mom!) need to be thrown away.
Are you in this wrestling match too? Trying to decide what to keep and throw away/donate? Have the kids touched these items in the last month? If not, toss it them out with great relish. Do you still have the bowls you ate ramen noodles out of in college? Get rid of them, immediately.
Stuff weighs us down, creates an unhealthy need for more stuff and literally blocks our way. Let’s all agree that our hearts don’t need more stuff keeping us from the good that surrounds us. I’ve noticed in seasons where we have less stuff, after we’ve done a few rounds of clean up and donate, my kids are actually happier. They are so much more in tune with their surroundings than I even realize and they seem less over-stimulated and start tapping into their imaginations more and that’s well worth it’s weight in gold, er, gold plated framed pictures of wolves, Audrey Hepburn or even that Michael Jordan Art of the Dunk poster. Okay, I might still need that, you know, for my son. Lord help me.
I’ll let you know when our garage sale will be.