Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom
Audra is eight years old and a fashionista. The lucky girl gets hand-me-downs from her sister and her sister’s friend, plus she occasionally gets new clothes of her own, typically from the thrift store. Audra changes clothes many times a day (thank goodness she wears a uniform to school!) and makes some really wonderful outfits.
I have been of several different minds about Audra and her clothes. Initially I would tell everyone, “Don’t buy her clothes. She doesn’t need any clothes,” etc. Then, as I started decluttering and reflecting on our choices, I realized that Audra enjoys a good shirt far more than any other toy, game, or art supply she could receive. If you’re going to buy a gift, it should be one that the person really loves, so then I thought, “Good, clothes it is.” Unfortunately, I quickly regretted my choice. Why? Audra never cleans up after herself. Her clothes were thrown over the bar instead of hung, or they were dropped on the floor barely worn but would quickly become dirty after being stepped on. I got mad, ridiculously mad. I resented the mess; I resented the extra laundry; I started resenting her.
One of Audra’s excuses was that she didn’t know how to hang her clothes properly. I spend several hours teaching her how to hang the clothes and rewarding her a nickel an item. This strategy was only mildly successful, but I used it to justified my anger. Now I knew she was just being careless. Time passed, and I wasted precious time and energy steaming.
Then one day, I had a calm moment when I realized that I was handling the situation backwards. I realized that Audra didn’t have a problem; she didn’t care that her clothes were on the ground or that I was intermittently angry at her. (She’s got a temper too and a very resilient personality.) It was me who had a problem, and it is my job is to solve my problems. I got a big trash bag and picked up everything from her floor and everything that was not hung properly, except stray uniforms, which went into the laundry, and I put the trash bag in the bottom of my closet. To my stunned surprise, Audra didn’t notice. About a week later, I made the same sweep. Audra started to notice that she was having a bit more trouble matching outfits, but she didn’t see the bigger picture.
The third time I made the floor sweep, Audra walked in while I was stuffing my plastic bag, which now bulged like Santa’s sack. She was shocked, but we had a calm discussion. She rightly pointed out that she has more clothes than anyone else in the family but less hanging space. We brought in a rolling rack from the spare room. She helped me figure out how the clothes should be organized, and we started unpacking the bag of confiscated goods. She was surprisingly merciless, weeding out everything that she thought she no longer wanted. After a while, she got tired, we stopped hanging things up, and she has never asked for the remaining items. Her clothes have really not been an issue since, and we finished this project at least six weeks ago.
I realized that I let this problem – my problem – go on and on because I was too chicken to diminish her clothing pile. I really thought it would break her heart and that I would win the Mean Mom of the Year Award. How wrong I was. Audra still loves her clothes, but we both realized that in the land of plenty, it’s easy to have plenty too much.
Item 356 of 365 less things
5 Things I am grateful for today
- A roof over my head and a bed to sleep in – That is more than some people have.
- The good times together with family.
- Being organised for Christmas – The gift is bought, the pudding is ready and the house is clean.
- Stone fruit – Peaches, cherries, plums, apricots etc they are one of the best things about a summer Christmas.
- My little car – It’s compact, easy to park and cheap on the gas.
It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow.