Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cleaning Out

So it's January and the theme is decluttering. This used to be a fun job when I was a kid and my Mom did all the real decluttering for me. I could just work on my own room... my bookshelves, my closet, my desk maybe. It was a one-hour job, tops, and it was gratifying as all get out. Tangible results! Praise and kudos from mama! Yippee! But trying to declutter a whole house is something else entirely. Especially when your house is shared by two treasure-seeking, sentimental hoarders who, if you could look through your X-ray hoarding glasses as they pass through space, have stuff and things and papers and hair bows attracted like magnets to their little persons at all times. Which drop gracefully and in equal parts in every room of the castle. Small Fry in particular has a special talent for treasure seeking. Wherever you go, she is three steps behind with her sharp little eyes scanning the ground and her pockets growing full of crystals, discarded gum wrappers, tiny sequins, acorns and teeny flowers. Big Stuff's talent is for dropping all the things that cling to her as she passes from room to room. Backpack, shoes, a sock, a sweater, some school papers, a jump rope, four books, and the other sock ....she leaves a trail of bread crumbs like Gretel but in reverse. The bread crumbs lead FROM there TO here. You never have to wonder where or if she's been in a room. Just check for open drawers and towels on the floor. So my decluttering theme includes the vast and scary "Playroom." And I am cleaning and cleaning in there. I am taking out garbage bags full of toys, stuffed animals, Polly Pocket shoes, broken dolls, torn playing cards, and I am amazed that hours later, it doesn't look much better! I am overwhelmed. And annoyed. But then I come across a stack of baby books - Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? Goodnight Moon. Jeremy Fisher. And I recall hours of rocking in my glider and reading these sweet books to them as they snuggled in my arms and stroked my hair. And I come across a destroyed versions of Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders and remember playing these first sweet games with them as they learned their colors and how to count. And I find the purses I bought to match their Easter dresses, full of treasures, of course. And the dollies we used to feed and burp when they were not far out of the feeding and burping stages themselves. And I thought, how would I feel about cleaning all this out if they were grown up and these many and varied treasures represented long-ago memories of the little girls I once had? Suddenly, these things are no longer clutter to be cleaned out but a picture of happy childhoods being lived. And I felt better about the cleaning and looked at it in a whole new light. Although my ruthless plan now became derailed by sentiment for things I cannot bear to part with. Mess, repurposed as ways to appreciate my life. It's still recycling. :-)

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