Today, Margaret and I had a “Freaky Friday” moment. It started when I had a major meltdown. It was completely out of the blue – or at least it appeared that way. But it really wasn’t an isolated incident. It’s been building. It’s kind of like the guy at work who runs every morning and who seems healthy until he has a heart attack one day and then you find out later that he’s been scarfing down Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s cheeseburgers every day for the last 35 years.
My dirty little secret that led to my meltdown is that I allow myself and my family to stockpile items I don’t know if we’ll ever need again in obscure places around the house. Every few years I sort of sift through these items and throw some things out. But I always feel like there’s a chance I might use them again and so the items accumulate in little plastic bins designed to help you organize your belongings but end up being the “enablers” for hoarding crap. I have a fairly poor memory so I forget the items are there until a few years later, when I am frantically searching for something and I have to dig through three hundred items I haven’t used in years to find the one item I need.
While I was searching for that one item today, I completely came unhinged. As I was sifting through the bins, I started getting resentful that all this “stuff” was taking up space in my small house. Seeking revenge, I grabbed item after item, tossing each in the trashcan. Honestly, I didn’t even know what half of them were. Things escalated quickly. I begin yanking out drawers of stuff and throwing it all in the trash. I felt like the mouse in If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, when he gets completely caught up in cleaning the entire house. Margaret and the 6-year old were staring at me, understandably speechless and scared out of their minds. Tears ensued. “Mommy, please stop!” But I couldn’t stop. I was melting down. Then, Margaret came over to me and yelled the truth that I desperately needed to hear. “Mom, please stop this! Who cares about this stuff? Can’t you focus on us and forget about all this stuff?”
So here’s my advice to myself and to any of you mothers who may be able to relate to this embarrassing yet true story. Forget about all the “stuff.” There will always be “stuff” around the house but your kids and the ones you love won’t; one day, the kids will move out and they’ll have their own stuff. And then, you can watch them hurl their own stuff across the room.
You might be wondering how my mommy meltdown ended. I took Margaret’s sage advice. I dumped out the trash bag of unimportant “stuff” and turned my attention to the important stuff – my two daughters. Which is exactly what I should have done in the first place. Mommy lesson learned.