Keeper of the Stuff

The Boy and The Girl are home from college. And so is all their stuff. So much for a clean garage.

Does family life equate with stuff? This is the question I am asking myself today.

When the kids were small, and tumbling about the house daily, I waged a constant war with untidy possessions. Toys scattered across the floor that needed rounding up and sorting back into drawers, half built Lego constructions that could not be touched, Brio train empires that were a nightmare to vacuum around, sneakers left on the stairs (how did I never break a leg?), wet towels, abandoned socks, and dirty clothing forgotten in corners and on closet floors. I used to corral, collect, and complain. Pick it up, put it away, send it to the laundry.

Then the kids left home, and the house was suddenly tidy. And quiet, and empty. And I asked myself, "Is this what I wanted, when I was complaining about their mess?" The answer of course was "NO!" But do children (and husbands, and other assorted family members) necessarily come with associated mess? I think the answer is Yes.

Lat summer I cleaned out the mudroom, and the garden shed, and the garage. I even started on the major (and HOT) job of sorting the attic, and its decades of stored memorabilia and detritus. Over the past year my Husband has slowly silted in the garage shelves and kitchen counter with tools he still needs for as yet unfinished projects, with files that have not found their way back to the filing cabinet, with oversize food items from Costco. (He is convinced that we are saving money on enormous packages of laundry soap, cereal, and toilet paper. Of course, it takes us months to work through the back supply, and in the meantime none of these items fits into any cabinets in the kitchen. What we do for love.)

Now the children are home from college for (part of) the summer. And home with them has come their Stuff: boxes of out-of-season clothes, not-quite-worn-out sneakers, computer parts, music collections, boxes of school books and papers. I love having the children home. Love it. Love it. Love it. So I must accomodate their stuff, their gear, their garbage. Their rooms are crowded, the laundry is exploding, the garage is.... Let's not even discuss it; it's too painful.

I guess sometimes Home is a revolving closet, a storage shed, a dump. Home is where you keep your Stuff. I put family above everything: I am the keeper of the Flame. I am the keeper of the Stuff.

Sarah

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