How Thinking About Hoarding Makes Me Cry

In celebration of Labor Day, my family decided to forgo barbeques, the beach and all other fun day-off type activities in favor of actual labor. There may have been some strong arming and rallying cries of “School starts in two days! We need to get organized people!” on my part, but it was all in the spirit of celebrating our laboring forefathers fight against The Man. I got to play The Man. (I find I often get to play the part of the oppressor).

Some people spring clean, but I find a good before-school-starts cleaning to be far more beneficial. And necessary, by virtue of the fact we have neglected doing much cleaning all summer. And heaven knows nothing– except homework– gets done during the school year. And so the cleaning of closets, bedrooms, playrooms and such had to happen.

When I told Girl 1 we would REALLY be cleaning her room, because she could no longer use her floor as her closet, her response was, “I’m afraid I may be one of those people, like on that show, that can’t throw anything away because they keep everything.”

Me: “Do you mean Hoarders?”

Her: “Yeah, that one.”

Me: “When did you watch Hoarders?”

Her: “At Grammy’s”*

Me: thinking I should probably not be happy about her watching this show, and also assure her that her inability to throw things away is actually a laziness problem, as opposed to a psychological one, but instead, saying, “Well, you probably are a hoarder, judging by how much crap is currently littering every surface of your room, but if you clean it up, you’ll be cured. Then we won’t have to worry about the dog being buried alive somewhere in here and finding her when she’s all crusty and decomposed.”

Her: “I don’t want to be one of those people… But I don’t want to clean my room.”

Me: “Start cleaning, or I will.” (this is code for “I will throw everything you love in the garbage.”)

And so we cleaned. And I wish I could write an inspiring story about how we worked together as a team and had so much fun and I taught her so many valuable life lessons as we went. But really, it just sucked and I said things like, “When are you going to need your notebook from 2nd grade again? You’re in 5th grade now.” and “We are NEVER having a doggy spa at our house again, so you can go ahead and throw away that schedule you made” in a really loud angry voice.

Part of the problem with cleaning her room was the little part of me that didn’t want her to throw away that 2nd grade notebook. I wanted to sit down and look at it and remember her three years ago and what she was learning then. Because now we are reaching a point where she knows so much and I can feel her slipping away a little more each day.

She makes me crazy, but I want to hoard her.  I’m torn between wanting to watch her grow and learn and wanting to keep every little piece of her locked away in a treasure box that I can keep all to myself. But not in a creepy/Mom’s-gone-crazy way. I just want to be able to pull her five year old self out of that box and spend a little time with her. Then put her away and pull out her two year old self– before she had sisters– and we would sit in the rocking chair reading and cuddling.

I wish I could keep every picture she’s drawn, every story she’s written, every project she’s completed. I wish I could remember every funny thing she’s done and every word she’s said– at least the nice ones. Mostly, though, I wish time wouldn’t go so quickly.

I spent a lot of years thinking it couldn’t go fast enough. Years of pregnancies, diaper changes, potty training, permanent markers on fresh painted walls, permanent markers on freshly bathed children. Years of questions about what could we possibly be thinking leaving markers out–again.

Now I think it all went too fast. I should have used one of those permanent markers on my memory because I’m forgetting too much of who she was.

And darn it, this post was supposed to be a funny one about hoarding.

But now I’m crying.

So I guess my next post will be about the funny hoarding tendencies of my parents and in-laws. I have none of my own, of course. Except when it comes to my children. If I figure out how to hoard them without all their crap, I just may do it.

* other shows watched at Grammy’s house: Cops, Lock Up, and UFC fights. It is a price I am willing to pay for a week alone with my husband once a year.

18 thoughts on “How Thinking About Hoarding Makes Me Cry

  1. Jill Campbell says:

    Beautiful post. I have a hole in my bedroom wall that is covered by a bookshelf that my 22 year-old made with her head when she was 7. . . It was one of those “I cannot tell a lie mother” moments. I'd like to say I haven't patched it up because I'm lazy. So I will.


  2. Julie Coulter Bellon says:

    Aw, *sniff* we're doing the same thing at our house, but I'm the paper hoarder because I can't get rid of all those special projects.I'm so glad for my journal when it comes to moments I want to remember though.Great post!


  3. Maggie says:

    At first I was laughing (and thinking about how many episodes of COPS my kids have watched with grandpa), and how my own daughter number 1 seems to believe every tiny piece of what I consider crap needs to be saved. And displayed!But then you got me tearful. I would love to “hoard” my kiddos and do exactly like you said, take out the two-year-old version for a little while just to remember. Great post on this first day of school.


  4. Anonymous says:

    LOL, we have the same “code” in our house too. Just emptied the youngest two's bedroom! Someday they'll learn…I hope.Still this was the prefect post for the start of school 🙂 They grew so fast!


  5. Anonymous says:

    I LOVE THIS! I think you are me in another body. This is exactly what it's like for me cleaning with my nine year old. Such a great post. Thank you.


  6. The Writing Well says:

    Hi Brittany, Love this post. I too started out laughing and remembering what it was like when my two boys were practically twins. They are now 14 & 15 and I love every bit of them. But ended with eyes full of tears as I realized how fast time has gone by. Will visit back soon:) Keep the funny coming!


  7. J.R., Amber, & Co. says:

    So now I'm crying because your daughter is EXACTLY like my daughter, and I feel EXACTLY the same way! Love you and love your daughter (and mine), too! And I hope you forgive me and love me despite my hoarding tendencies… blame dad.


  8. Becca says:

    Well done. My 5th grade daughter just wrote a paragraph about her room for her teacher, and it was hilarious to me – all about stashing things under the bed and in the closet, then reading for half an hour to make the timing right enough to fool Mom. Poor kid. Her Mom is such an idiot. Don't you love when a funny post turns weepy and you remember that you're not really in charge of your writing at all? (We call that Inspiration, honey.)


  9. Debby J says:

    Ah, this made me misty, Brittany! You captured what many moms feel as their daughters begin to have one foot in adolescence and the other in childhood. She keeps all that “crap” (your word….I would have used the same word, btw), because it's attached to a memory…and the laziness thing, too. A few years from now, if this is your only issue, just close the door! Thanks for the lemon cake…..oh so yummy! Your writing is really engaging (says the teacher)!


  10. Katie Dodge says:

    Funny, I am taking a break right now from making threats of throwing toys away because my children have been “cleaning up” for the past couple hours and not too much is getting done! We share a group in the campaign, BTW. Looking forward to more of your posts! 😀


  11. Enjoy Birth says:

    I want to hoard my babies too. Makes me almost want another one. I actually wrote a short story once in high school about finding an old love letter shoved in a drawer while cleaning out my room. Notes/notebooks can really bring you back in time.


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