Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My Mom Is a Hoarder

My mom is a hoarder. And so is my dad. I've often thought about submitting them to Hoarders or Hoarding: Buried Alive.

When I was a child, my mom and I moved around a LOT. Every year, in fact. We moved so often that we didn't always bother to unpack everything. My mom liked to call herself a "Pack Rat". I remember in one apartment, we had makeshift walkways created out of boxes piled all over the living room - the living room that was unusable for a time.

My mom and my dad, who are empty nesters, now live in a 4 bedroom split level house. The garage is so full of stuff (theirs, and my recently deceased grandmother's) that they park their cars outside in the driveway. The basement is completely filled with old memorabilia or "As Seen on TV" things from Costco that it can only function as a storage area. The breakfast room has 3 bookshelves chockablock full of cookbooks and cooking magazines. The kitchen has so many appliances and pots and pans and serving ware that the cabinets have now spilled over onto the counters, and there is no more space to prepare food. I could go on. And on top of all of that, they also have a storage room down the street.

My mom and dad don't like living a messy life. They want desperately to be organized, they really do. But here's a story:

For Christmas last year I gave my mom 4 days of my life. In those 4 days, any 4 days out of the year, we would tackle 4 rooms of the house. The catch was that my mom had to let me donate, trash or recycle 90% of what I thought was needed, and she could save 10%. We started in the kitchen.

We went through tupperware, pots and pans, appliances, COLANDERS. My mom owns something like 7 colanders. SEVEN. She has 5 or 6 casserole dishes, innumerable pots and pans of the same and varying sizes, 3 different coffee makers (standard, espresso and Keurig). We filled maybe one large box to "sell at a yardsale", and maybe one trashbag of broken items. Every time I asked my mom to pare down, she gave me a reason why she couldn't get rid of this, and certainly couldn't part with that.

The yardsale never happened, and I don't know where that box is now, but I'd wager several of those items are back in the cabinet.

So we didn't tackle any other rooms. I love my parents, but I wasn't going to waste our time.

The thing is, I don't judge my parents for hoarding. Sure, I make jokes on occasion, but the truth is that they're bombarded with advertising and socially accepted norms 24/7 telling them that owning more is better. Upgrading is important, but nostalgia is good too. So they have no filter and they keep everything.

I don't judge them at all, but I don't want to live like that.

In what may seem like the most obvious statement in the world, I think there's a chance I was maybe influenced by my mom. Bless her heart, she tried to instill the values of cleanliness and organization, but I had no frame of reference.

Besides having an overabundance of "useful" items (I'm using that term loosely here), my mom is also a collector. Of like, everything. Magazines, cookbooks, kitchen tchotchkes, ashtrays, menus, clowns, Murano glass. When I was 8 or 9, she and my grandmother (another fine collector in her own right) decided I needed to start a collection. My grandfather had collected yo-yos, my uncles had collected stamps and coins. None of these were interesting to me, so I started collecting cat figurines. Why? No idea. Because I was supposed to, I guess. I stopped collecting them sometime in high school.

When I came home from college my freshman year, I wanted to clean out my bedroom. My mom said she'd help me. Big mistake. I tried to donate my prom dresses, old board games with missing pieces, and (you guessed it) the figurines. I had no attachment to them anymore. I had pictures of myself in my dresses, I couldn't play the games without the pieces, and c'mon. Who needs cat figurines? I'm not even a cat person.

But my dear, sweet mom couldn't let go (there's a pattern here, I'm sure of it). She wouldn't let me donate my dresses. Sharpshooter and Trivial Pursuit are still on the top shelf of the closet, and those cat figurines?

Packed away in the storage room down the street.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for not mentioning the ashes in the closet