I have a confession to make, I think we have a hoarder in training (HiT) in our house. Yeah, I know. Scary.
Is there any hope? What can we do? Anything?
It began at early age, and I when I look back to her early years, I know I ignored the early warning signs. Both of us did. And, these red flags continue today, but now it’s too late. There’s no goin’ back.
The HiT was a toddler, maybe 2 years old and it was a typical weekday morning. I was in a hurry, as usual, because my morning routine involved dropping her off at daycare and then driving in rush hour traffic 30 minutes to get to my downtown office. Argghhh, this was not the morning to misplace my keys. Frick! Where could they be? (Our house was about 900 square feet – there weren’t a lot of hiding places for keys in our first house.)
I was racing around like a mad-woman looking for my keys and beginning to panic, getting the cold sweats, panting (my boss at the time was not that understanding). If I remember correctly, the hubs hadn’t left yet, so I took his key to my car and his house key because I usually got home first.
Off I went (without my keys), tried to get something done at work (while being distracted by my key dilemma), picked up the HiT from daycare , went home and probably started dinner. I don’t know if it was that night or a couple of days from that fateful day, but eventually we did find my keys. Where?
Well, in my daughter’s little pink Fisher-Price plastic purse. Of course! Why didn’t I look there first :)?
What made me finally open her purse? I really have no idea. But, Mike and I found a random assortment of items in that purse – my keys, a coaster, some of her small toys. Things that she just picked up as she strolled through the house like a bag lady.
After that, when anything went missing, we looked in all of her bags, backpacks and purses.
When she was a little older, maybe 7 ish, I bought her a package of gummy Life Savers. Have you ever seen one of these packages? The gummies come in a plastic tray which holds them individually (kind of like an egg carton).
This is a reconstruction of the conversation that occurred later in her bedroom (I think we were cleaning it up or going through her clothes):
Me: “HiT, when you’re done with your candy, you need to throw the this away (holding the tray and wrapper). It’s trash.”
HiT: “Mommy, it’s not trash! I think the tray is cool. I may need it for something later like for a project.”
Me: “Honey, this is trash. I really don’t think you should keep it. Will you keep every tray?”
HiT: “Mommy! No, I won’t. I promise. Just this one.”
I walked out of her bedroom shaking my head and thinking, “Oh, no!”
Other hoarding evidence as she has gotten older:
She loves, loves, loves antique stores (can’t leave a store without buying something – last purchase, which was yesterday, was a ceramic owl (huh?). “Mommy, it was only a dollar!”)
She is a shopaholic (shoes, clothes, scarves, fingernail polish (even though she has no nails to speak of), purses, etc.)
She buys about 5 pairs of sunglasses each summer
I bet she has a purse for every other day of year (I may be exaggerating a bit.)
She says that when she is older, she wants to live on a farm (chuckle!) so she can own multiple dogs, and other barnyard animals
She loves watching the following shows: American Pickers, Extreme Couponing (on TLC). I will admit that she hasn’t started watching Hoarding: Buried Alive (on TLC). On second thought,. . . . maybe she should.
Um, she “cleaned” out her room and produced four grocery bags of stuff for Goodwill. I was thrilled…..until I looked in her room. It. Looked. Exactly. The. Same. (Oh, Powers That Be, help us!)
Now, I will tell you that I think it runs in her genetic code (NOT from my side). My husband is a reformed hoarder (like a 2 on a scale of 1-10). I, as you might imagine, don’t hold on to much (I totally get this from my dad). I keep what is necessary and toss the rest (I do keep some keepsakes – I’m not completely dead inside).
My favorite “hoarder” story on the hubs: The hubs graduated from college in the Spring of 1988 and we got married in February of 1991. When we moved into our apartment and merged our stuff, it was a revelation for both of us. We rented a 2-bedroom apartment and used the extra bedroom for stuff we didn’t know what to do with. One day, we started going through the room in preparation for the move into our FIRST HOUSE and there, sitting innocently, was his backpack.
It still looked full. Wait, it was still heavy. What was in there? (Mine was cleaned out the day after graduation and has remained empty since). I hurry and open it wondering what awaited me . . . .there are textbooks, notebooks and something that is round, black and hard. What the hell is it? It rattled when I shook it. Maybe some ancient Indian musical instrument?
I show Mike his backpack and apparently it’s a time capsule of his last day of school, literally. On the last day of college, he just moved his backpack “as is” to his first apartment shared with his BFF, Jud, and then this backpack moved (undisturbed) to his second apartment (where he lived alone) and then it moved to its final destination – our first apartment. The round, dark, black thing that rattles? An orange. Yep, an orange that petrified in his backpack.
Oh, my. Our HiT comes by it honestly.
I do love that girl so much and she cracks me up when she talks about all of the dogs, and possibly the cow, she is going to own on her farm, etc. She promises us that her dorm room and subsequent apartment won’t be buried in ceramic owls when she is on her own – Mike and I just laugh to ourselves especially when we see the trail of evidence that she leaves throughout the house……..
Both Mike and I have told her that we just don’t want to find her literally buried in her farmhouse under piles of stuff! She has assured us that she won’t bury herself alive.
We’ll just have to see 🙂