The three dogs were hanging out on the back patio, the chickens were fed, two kids were at school, the littlest one was taking a nap...and a partridge in a pear tree. Point being, my zoo was all taken care of and I had some free time. What does one do with a second to relax? Well, at that moment, it was just me and the downstairs coat closet ready for a good time.
I have a tidy house. That, by no means, says I have a clean house (Um, HELLO?! Three kids and three dogs live here!). But for the most part, it stays picked up. I like everything to have its place, clutter haunts me in my dreams, and I get an unhealthy satisfaction from purging all the things in all the nooks and crannies of all the rooms in my home. I should have a frequent visitor card at the donation place down the street from my house. No exaggeration, I drop off once a week. In my home, no drawer is safe. It took me until my oldest was almost nine years old to let her put away her own laundry because I hate crammed drawers (keep it folded kid!) and there is not a single plastic favor goodie bag filled with cheap toys from a birthday party that lasts even a minute in my house.
With the risk of sounding so lame-o, I'm going to say that purging and organizing is...a hobby of mine🙈. Good thing I'm already married, otherwise my e-Harmony profile would be the biggest snooze fest. One of my favorite books ever on this planet is The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Condo. I read that book in a few days flat. If you haven't read it, stop what you're doing, go to Amazon and order it now......I'll wait.
So in the book, the Konmari Method says you hold things in your hand and literally only keep it if it brings you joy. I love this idea, but I have to be honest - there has to be some wiggle room when using this method or I'd end up sitting on a pile of yoga pants hugging my coffee pot in an empty house.
So now you know my obsession with purging, which means you'd be shocked to know that this closet downstairs that I was standing in front of this fine day was FULL of kid stuff. I know it's normal for kid stuff to multiply quicker than the Duggars and slowly take over your home, but this was different. Toys? I get rid of them, no problem. My kids' rooms are organized and clean, but this kid stuff was attached to emotional baggage. Inside of the closet there were several drawers of craft supplies, well over 30 puzzles, 20+ board games, at least 25 curriculum helping books, so many flash cards, practice pages, and much more educational stuff.
I had cleaned out this closet several times in this house, as well as the same replicated closet in our old home. I just seemed to rearrange the stuff, but never really got rid of any of it. This time, I was determined for the process to be different. I pulled everything out of the closet and it looked like Lakeshore Learning and Michaels craft store exploded in my foyer. As I looked around, I realized I had kept most of this stuff since my oldest was in preschool (she's nine this week!).
Why? Why was I relentless in hoarding all these things, but yet I was never using any of them? Well, as most of you know, I got pregnant with my daughter at 18. I had NO IDEA what I was doing as I was thrown into motherhood, but I did know what I TOLD myself motherhood looked like. Turns out I'm really good at being a mom. I'm naturally nurturing and solid in sacrificing my own needs and patiently practicing intentional parenting. As a young mom, however, I had something to prove to earn my stripes. There seemed to be an exclusive club of "good moms" and you're either in or out, depending on your effort. The lies I told myself included that a good mom also has REALLY SMART kids. And REALLY SMART kids are a direct reflection of a mother who molds them tirelessly with phonics charts and flash cards and curriculum books. Sienna, my oldest, was potty trained at 15 months and knew the pledge of allegiance by the time she was two. I made it. Give me my badge - I'm in the good moms club.
Fast forward five years and my son is 18 months old and enrolled in speech therapy weekly. He literally couldn't even say "mama." Great! To me, this meant my card was going to be revoked, that the lie is loud and concrete, and I'm not a good mom because my curriculum closet has developed cobwebs from its lack of use. At that point, I was 23 years old with two kids, we had just bought our first house, and we owned a new family business. Working with flash cards was not even on the radar.
Now, we've added another kid to the mix (we're three deep) and moved homes and our business is growing. Like I mentioned above, three dogs have joined the crew and two chickens peck for food often. My plate is full and these days the daily "learning curriculum" has been simplified. Number one goal: survive. Yet this closet still sat full of reminders of what I needed to do to be a "good mom." They haunted me and perpetuated the lie that one day these REALLY SMART kids were going to prove my worth as a mother. And if I didn't mold them with the tools in my kid closet, I ranked as a failure.
As I rummaged through the stacks of material, it was extremely emotional. I'm proud to say that I literally got rid of SO MUCH STUFF. When I picked up each item, in my head I heard, "Keep it! You HAVE to start working everyday with the kids on this stuff! Do not get rid of it or you suck! Don't just give up. C'mon, that's the easy way out. The kids will be dumb if you do! And if they're not dumb they'll be mediocre and they have to be REALLY SMART!" But then I would pause and tell myself, "You're a good mom. You don't use these things. LET GO OF THEM. Most importantly, LET GO OF THE EXPECTATION THEY REPRESENT AND THE LIE THEY TELL YOU."
Now I have a clean closet. And a healing heart. And a third child who certainly doesn't know the pledge of allegiance, but equally impresses me with sticking her tongue out and making doggy noises. My "good mother" card is still pending approval, but luckily I'm president of my own club. I've started the "just do you" motherhood club. My personal slogan is "Burn the Flash Cards!" Wanna join?