I’m a Pack Rat.
There, I said it. I keep stuff. That’s what I do. I’m good at it, too, sorting and boxing and labeling Items Of Note, buying shelving and plastic tubs with aplomb, keeping mementos and records, kids toys and movie ticket stubs and wine glasses I’ll never use.
It’s a problem.
Lately I’ve wanted a cleaner life. A less cluttered life. A life where I can find things, like that book I know I have somewhere, or do crafts with those beads I knew I bought but who knew where I put ‘em. I want to look in a room and see the floor, see the top of a dresser, walk through the basement without tripping over bags of unwanted items and Good Intentions. I wanted to nest.
The problem with wanting is I become obsessed with it.
My obsession started out simply enough…I couldn’t find the microwave popcorn. Labor Day weekend I cleaned out the kitchen cupboards. Threw out couscous that expired when my daughter was still a preschooler. Then the bathroom cupboards. Threw out medicine for a disease I didn’t remember having.
Last Friday night I purged the kitchen of all unnecessary items…the broken bread box…banished the blender to the basement (I’ve used the thing twice?). Moved the microwave, the knives, the toaster. Rearranged and reorganized. Then I started on the living room. Pulled books off the shelves, cleared off the mantel. I was up til 2 a.m.
Saturday I cleaned Boy-child’s room, transitioning him into late-tween years, opening every cabinet, unlocking every plastic bin and poring over every piece of the contents, pulling kid-stickers from the walls, making room for the dartboard which has sat like a bastard on the floor since last Christmas, waiting for space. I was up til 1 a.m.
Sunday I finished cleaning Boy-child’s room. Then started on Girl-child’s. I had to banish her from the room so I could fill trash bags with half-colored coloring books, hundreds of Happy Meal toys, boxes that once contained High School Musical locker equipment. Baby dolls were removed, stuffed animals relocated, the used-and-neglected Barbie Doll head thrown out and the Game of Life moved to within playing distance. I moved Girl-child from toddler to tween.
Last night, tucking Girl-child in, she hugged me tight and said, “Mama, I didn’t get many hugs from you this weekend.” Shit. She was completely right. In my quest for cleanliness, I cut into kid time. “I promise, more hugs this week, m’kay?” Girl-child snuggled down into my arms. “I can smell your perfume”, she said, and drifted off.
I now have nearly a dozen plastic bins…empty of their contents. I can see the kids’ bedroom floors. Their dressers are clean and polished, and the dust bunnies have been banished. I ran a marathon of cleaning.
I still have to tackle our bedroom. And the basement. And the garage. This morning I can barely walk, after stooping, stretching, hauling away 8 construction-type garbage bags of detritus away. I got 4 hours of sleep last night, my legs twitching the entire time, and now I realize I didn’t poop all weekend, so I got THAT goin’ for me. But I also have some peace of mind…some uncluttering of mind…something I desperately needed.