Stories and thoughts about family and life

Cleaning out the Closet

on February 4, 2013

That seemed to be the theme for the weekend for me.  In my mom-rant that became Saturday morning, I endeavor to have my children complete their chores.  So I don’t go completely berserk and OCD on them, I try to find something else to occupy my time where I can still check on their progress, but not feel like I have to do it all.  I remember making the remark to my husband “I just want them to be functional, clean adults.  I don’t want their wives to hate me one day because they can’t match socks or do laundry or clean the toilet.”  I remember doing chores at their age, and in true Bill Cosby style, they were MUCH worse (those of you who are too young, Bill Cosby always told about walking up the hill BOTH ways to school in the snow).  Anyway, my kids do have it pretty great–they have electronics, more game consoles than most, in fact.  They have their own rooms, and they have pretty cool parents.  I think so, anyway.

So, anyway, closets.  After I yelled at Lucas for having clothes all over the bottom of his closet, I thought I should probably take a gander at my own.  It wasn’t too bad, since we had already cleaned it out on one of the days we didn’t have electricity during Snowpocalypse 2012.  Now THAT’s a fun afternoon for you.  Imagine if you will. . . it’s below 50 in the house, we’re all bundled up and praying for the power to come back on.  We’ve played every board game we own at least twice, and all the devices are dead.  We’re trying to find something–anything to keep moving and hopefully generate some heat.  What a great time to clean out closets!  Surprisingly enough, we were able to weed out a remarkable number of items which make spring cleaning dramatically more simple.

After I check through mine and make sure I didn’t miss anything the last pass, I proceed to the bathroom closet in the main bath.  This closet houses all the extra towels for the house, as well as extra cleaners, and pretty much anything else the boys would rather not deal with, apparently.  I sigh heavily and call to my husband.  We spend the next 60 minutes pulling everything out of the closets, rearranging the shelves and pulling out about 15 old towels that have seen much more productive days.  We bag those to drop off at the Humane Society and proceed.  While Louis finishes putting the last of the towels in the closet I decide to conquer under both sinks.    Have you looked under the sink lately?  I mean, really looked?  It’s absolutely frightening to find what is under there when you really start pulling everything out and looking at it.  Cocoa butter I used when I was pregnant (it does NOT reduce stretch marks enough to make it worth the extra effort, by the way).  Two scales.  Really?  TWO SCALES?  Because knowing I’m overweight on one apparently isn’t good enough.  And that’s not even counting the scale we actually use in the master bath.  A hanging basket.  7 kinds of bathroom cleaner–three of which I’ve come to decide I can’t stand.  A bag of seashells from when I visited the ocean for the first time about 15 years ago.

Then I have a stackable drawer set that goes under the vanity which found its way into the bathroom when I didn’t have room anywhere else after having kids.  In it I found an assortment of thank you cards, birthday cards, note cards, and, get this, network cable.  Because that’s where you store the network cable, right?   Along with a box of crayons and about 12 highlighters.  I don’t personally recall putting anything in there except the note cards, but hey, I was sleep-deprived for a really long time so who knows?  I mean, I am the same person who carried my passport around for over a year in my laptop bag and never knew it was there, all the while tearing my house apart continually each weekend looking for it.  It was only after a weekend trip away that my husband was looking for a phone charger and just happened to open this little-used pocket on my laptop case and found it.

The cabinet above the toilet was interesting, as well.  About 10 candles of various assortments, every imaginable children’s medicine, and bandaids in anything from Spongebob to Hot Wheels to Finding Nemo.   Bath salts and lotion were the primary resident, though.  Apparently I’m afraid I might not be able to take a hot bubble bath at a moment’s notice.

I finish the bathroom and clean the sinks and then decide that I’m on a roll.  I move onto the hallway closet.  Our hallway closet is about 15 inches or so wide at the door, and maybe 24 inches wide total.  It stands the height of the hallway, and has about 6 shelves in it.  It usually put the things that don’t have another home there:  the fire extinguisher and ladder (we have a second story), the extra light bulbs, the extra Kleenex, photos, and extra sheets.  I’ve taken recently to storing the extraneous travel items here too, so it took a bit of rearranging to get the gigantic new package of light bulbs we thought we needed (which was easily 12 inches by 7 inches) onto one of the shelves with all the other items.  I have extra candles stores here too (I like candles, what can I say?) as well as the Glade plug-ins and things of that nature.  I laugh as I prepare to type this next part.  I found on sale one weekend (I actually remember buying them) the Bath & Body Works Wallflowers.  A couple of the plugs but mostly about a dozen sets of refills.  I’m pretty sure I found them on clearance and decided everyone loved them so much, I was bound to as well.  Yeah, well, not so much.  They don’t last long enough to suit me and I need things that don’t require me to pay them a lot of attention (just ask the plant brought to us by Louis’ aunt and uncle a week ago, which I’ve already managed to kill).  I grab a bag and decide to take them to the office to give away.  I was tickled to see that the first person who arrived this morning was so excited to see them, she took half of them.  Mission accomplished.  I love for things to have a home.

I’m amused at why we hold onto the things in our lives the way we do.  I’ve started a new policy several years ago in my closet.  If I haven’t worn it in two years, it goes, unless it’s something sentimental to me, or something that you only wear occasionally anyway (like something formal).  Even then, if I don’t have a reason to wear it in three or four years, it still needs to go.  Yet I hold onto crazy stuff like cocoa lotion and candles for years.   So, between the office, the donation site at Saver’s and the Humane Society, several people got to benefit from my need to houseclean.

I realize it’s not just me.  That became all too apparent this weekend as I teamed up with another Cub Scout mom to organize our storage closet for scout items.  We took everything out into the hallway and sifted through it all.  We installed shelves and carefully itemized everything going back into the room.  We were amazed to find ream after ream of construction paper (literally three stacks about 2 feet each tall).  20 screwdrivers, 30 paint brushes of varying sizes and uses, about 30 bottles of various paints.  Glue sticks, uniform pieces, pencils, scissors, glue guns, and just about anything else you can imagine you might want for an art project.  Years of these items which had been purchased and put away.  Boxes of items donated to our group that no one had been able to take time to sort through.  Old manuals, old reports, serving items, food, award items, and the like.  Six hours and five trashcans full later we emerged from our shiny clean room, with everything stored and sorted and counted.

It’s amazing how you can go in and out of a closet time and time again, and never realize how cluttered and crazy and disorganized it’s become.  Kind of like life.  I’ve reflected on this a lot the past couple of days as I’ve prepared for our trip this summer and, in true OCD fashion, I have a box where I’m collecting the things we’ll need for our trip so we’re sure not to forget.  I try to eliminate the clutter from my life, but I always intend to read that magazine or file those pictures or save those addresses so I can write cards.  And then six months are gone by and I wonder what this clutter is on my desk again, only to sift through it and realize I haven’t done any of those things.  I think as I sort through the closets that I can’t believe it takes me so long to do some of this stuff, and then a year later we’ll do it again, and wonder again why there are two scales (because, of course, who throws out a perfectly good scale?!), or realize “oh, that’s where that got off to.”

Our house isn’t big enough to have the closets I would like.  I curse it sometimes for limiting me on my space, but I realize that it’s also a blessing of sorts.  I can’t imagine what kind of hoarder I would be if I only had the room!


One response to “Cleaning out the Closet

  1. Chris says:

    Hooray for moments notice hot bubble baths!! Oh man, that made me laugh!

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