I vaguely remember all the clutter from my childhood. With five kids in a small house, things stayed tidy for all of 3.7 seconds if more than one of us was home. I knew, intellectually, that the mess was everybody’s stuff; abandoned socks, backpacks, jackets, hairbrushes, toys of every shape and size, and all manner of discarded dirty dishes. Emotionally, however, it was never my problem. It always seemed to be my parents’ fault for keeping so much of their own stuff, or not making my brother and sisters get rid of their stuff. (I still maintain that I was the tidiest person in that household once I reached 15 years old. At least, I kept my mess in my own room where it didn’t bother anyone.) It was never my fault, you see; it was my mom’s. She ran the house. Couldn’t she get rid of the foot-high pile of stuff on the sideboard? Surely all that stuff was worthless. Papers. Who needs to keep papers? Why were there empty containers hanging around? Why on earth did she need so many books about organization and cleaning? Why did she twitch and yell at me when I tried to sweep the whole pile into the trash? I was helping, dammit. Why didn’t she see that I was helping when I tried to toss out the stack of tax documents? Taxes were taken out when you bought things, the silly woman!
Now, sitting at the desk surrounded by toys, yarn scraps, bills needing attention, abandoned jackets/slippers/dishes/socks, empty medicine boxes that I can’t quite throw away because the instructions on the bottle/tube are insufficient, and replacement goods that won’t be needed for another few days but have no place until then (I’m looking at you, toilet paper and diapers), I feel like I’m drowning in stuff. …And…I kind of understand. I’m nowhere near the Hoarders-level of accumulation, but we continue to move into smaller and smaller dwellings even as we add family members. No matter how much stuff I get rid of, there is always more. Kids grow, vacuum cleaners explode from cat hair overload, holidays and birthdays keep coming around, yarn stores have sales…it never ends. I feel like I could re-stock an entire thrift store
If you don’t hear from me after a few days, you’ll know I met my end trying to tackle the Sierra Madre of laundry piles.