I went back home to Denver to help my Mom and Dad de-clutter and prepare to put their house on the market. They were moving to Kansas City to be closer to my brother and I and our families. It was a long-awaited move. Having us and grandkids 500+ miles away had taken its’ toll and they were ready to change that. But after living in the same house for 32 years, the task at hand was monumental and emotional to say the least.
We spent days plowing through years of built up stuff that comes from raising children, the deaths of parents and grandparents, working hard and just plain living lives. As my Mom and I were in my childhood closet that had morphed into her “craft closet” through the years, I stumbled upon an old box of craft supplies. Some of the items in the box were so old that I recognized my own name sprawled in hot pink marker in my elementary school writing on the top portion of a bottle of glue. I thoughtlessly tossed it into the growing box of trash. My Mom, horrified, exclaimed that she wanted that bottle of glue!
What proceeded was an interchange that I am not proud of but that has taught me so much and that I pull from daily in working with Bee Organized clients. I impatiently exclaimed right back to Mom that “it’s just a bottle of glue!” and proceeded to tell her that it was over 25 years old, dried out and worth nothing and that I would buy her new glue when she gets to Kansas City. My Mom, tired and emotional, argued with me that I was being wasteful and that it was a perfectly good bottle of glue and that she was, in fact, taking it to Kansas City.
The argument pursued until my Dad came in and broke it up. I drove off in a fit of rage and called my brother to talk me off the ledge. I was mad that my Mom was insisting on keeping things that had no value. I was mad that there was so much stuff. I was just plain mad, tired and emotional.
After my poor brother got up to speed through my tears and drama, he calmly explained to me that it is way more than just “a bottle of glue.” Knowing that my Mom was so excited to soon be living in the same town as her grandchildren, that bottle of glue represented all of the future plans, adventures and crafting with her grandchildren that she was busy planning in her mind.
I had to sheepishly admit that my brother was right. He saw clearly what I couldn’t see in the midst of all of the “stuff.” I turned my car around, walked into my childhood home one last time, wrapped my arms around my Mom and apologized.
It’s just a bottle of glue…but it was my Mom’s bottle of glue and my Mom’s plans. We all attach emotions, memories, failures, guilt, joy and even plans to inanimate objects such as a bottle of glue.
May we all patiently find that balance of not keeping everything, finding the joys of de-cluttering but also honoring emotions, memories and dreams through our stuff…or, just a bottle of glue.