Sunday, August 21, 2011


Hung out Friday with a good friend of mine from growing up (she has known me since first grade - over 20 years!). I've talked to her a bit about the hoarding situation, because I've known her so long, I trust her, she's a psychologist and also has really really reasonable standards of appropriate boundaries or behavior. At one point though I recounted a story from when I was maybe 20.

So for almost as long as I can remember either the kitchen or dining room table has been unusable. We would either eat all our meals on the kitchen table or all of the meals on the dining room table, depending which was clean. 
So I have this recollection, thinking, I'm going to do something awesome for Mom, she's always complaining about how the house is such a mess. I will clean off the kitchen table so we can eat on it again. She was away helping as a cook at this church youth camp for teenage girls - I think at least two of my sisters were attending. Anyway I spent probably half a day tossing the expired coupons and the junk mail, compiling anything that looked important into a small stack. I wiped down the table, put out a tablecloth, possibly even picked some flowers from the yard to make it all pretty for when my mom and the girls arrived home. I was imagining her being so happy and pleased that we would be able to use the table again, that it looked so nice, that I had spent time to do something kind for her. 
I was so wrong. She returned from camp with a bunch of extra (non-perishable) food from the camp's industrial-size kitchen, a ton of craft supplies from the craft barn, and other supplies that were going to get thrown away. They all ended up on the kitchen table and stayed there for months, maybe even years... 
Pretty much within minutes of arriving home, she had returned the table to an unusable state. I have to say I was a little bit heartbroken. 
This of course is before I realized that there was something significant going on in her mind that was making her like this and making the house like this. I somehow thought it was our kids' fault for being so messy, for not helping enough with the cleaning. If only we could be better then things would be better... yes, I believed it on some level, took it to heart.

And you know what, maybe I still feel that way. Those little "if only"s. If only I can figure out the right way to help Mom, then everything will be okay. I just need to learn to let it go. Slowly I'm learning to let it go.


  1. It sounds like you're doing a good job, Curious. Keep up the good work, and your own good, clean home.

    You deserve it.