Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Spring Cleaning (or "Do you really need this Pony?")
My boyfriend and ex-husband staged an intervention this weekend.
They lured me into the playroom outside with promises of "it's nothing bad..." and "you'll like it!" As I entered the playroom, my mom (who was in from NY) blocked my retreat.
"Sarah. You can't live like this." Said my mom.
"You have to get rid of all of this crap!" Said my boyfriend.
"You're setting a bad example for the kids." Said my ex-husband who was wearing a 30 year old striped mock turtleneck from the 80's.
I surveyed the room. It was filled floor to ceiling with puzzles, incomplete race car tracks, wooden blocks, infant puzzles, Barbies, Barbie dwellings, and enough Barbie accessories (plane, RV, remote cars, beds, tables, chairs, evening gowns and shoes) for her to colonize a small planet with her fellow Barbies. (Ken can dream...)
They were right. Something needed to be done. I just didn't want to be the one to do it.
I don't know why I have such a hard time with organization and throwing stuff away. I actually love to be organized. I love the equipment you can buy to get organized. I love the containers you can use to keep you organized. I love the concept of having all of my stuff put in special places so that it's always ready and available to me the moment I need it! Unfortunately, I just never know what to put where, or what to get rid of, in order to achieve that beautiful zen-like state other people achieve - you know the one...the one where you can actually see the desk under the boxes and papers.
I get attached to stuff. Ridiculous stuff. Like a small silk flower that came with a present from some guy for some reason I don't even remember, but I assume that since I've kept it this long, it must be important. I have letters from friends from sleepaway camp (from when I was, like, 9), I have every picture I've ever taken - even if it's out of focus - and I recently discovered my Girl Scout sash - complete with all of my hard-earned patches (music, sewing, cooking, ice skating...), many of which still had pins in them so my mom could sew them on at a later date when she "had a minute" (let's not even discuss the fact that my mom put PINS through my patches and sent me out like that - exposed sharp tips and all - she didn't even attempt to tuck them through the fabric to protect me...Aaaaahhhhh, the 70's....)
But this weekend I was forced to face the boxes and boxes and boxes (and boxes) of archived, abandoned and broken toys that reminded me of my children at varying stages of childhood. And I had to throw it away. It was not easy.
"Awww...look at this My Little Pony - it's Rainbow Dash! This was Izzy's favorite!"
"It has no mane and no tail." Scott pointed out.
"It was so cute. She would bring it in the tub...then she gave it a haircut..."
"...and you are getting rid of it."
I handed over the bald pony. Along with half a Pony dance studio, the ticket booth for Butterfly Beach and Pony cakes, flatware and hairbrushes to tame the no-longer flowing locks of 80% of the Ponies.
"Honey...your own kids don't want them. They're getting tossed." Scott can be so cold.
"Sarah, what's this?" My Ex stood up from behind an electronic keyboard and stand I hadn't seen since we'd moved in. He held up a hat box filled with baby caps and bonnets.
"Those were the kids' hats."
"Do they fit?"
"Then we're giving them away."
"Wait!!!!" I jumped over a pile of plastic food, nearly twisted my ankle on a cabbage and grabbed the hat box away from him. I went through the hats and bonnets holding up each one, remembering the tiny toothless faces that went under them. "Awwwww.......Remember Livi in this?" I held up a green bonnet with ruffled fringe. "She looked like a Pilgrim."
"Sarah, get rid of it." Said my Ex.
"Sarah, step away from the hat box" said Scott.
"Sarah, there are children in Africa without hats." said my Mom.
"Really? You're going with that?"
She gave me a look that told me she had wished my three kids upon me - and not in a good way.
Together, they got me to stop reminiscing about every item I touched and to clear away all of the toys we no longer use. Duplo blocks, Barbies, race tracks, anything Elmo...
We put the usable ones out on the lawn and hoped that people would take them. In LA, stuff on the lawn is like gold.
The room looks gorgeous and my kids were bouncing around it saying "This is AWESOME!" and "We have SOOOOOOOOO much room now!" and "it's not embarrassing anymore!"
We set up areas for each kid and on their shelves - in plain view - are the toys they play with. It's lovely.
They tell me the next project will be my office. As it stands, I don't write in my office. I can't. It's filled with stuff. But I would love to be able to use it, so I'm accepting their help.
But if anyone tries to throw out my Girl Scout sash, it could get ugly.